Gurudwaras In Amritsar

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AKAL BUNGA housing Sri Akal Takht Sahib. See Akal Takht

GURDWARA LACHI BER, a small, domed structure raised upon a marblepaved platform near the gateway to the Harimandar, is named after the ben (jujube) tree by its side which yields small (lachi or cardamom sized) berries. According to tradition, Guru Arjan used to sit under this tree and watch the digging of the sarovar, the sacred tank. Bhai Salho, a prominent Sikh of that time, also used to relax here after the day's labour at the tank. It is said that when Mahitab Singh Mirankotia and Sukkha Singh arrived here to have the Harimandar liberated from the control of Massa Khan Ranghar, and chastised the desecrator of the holy shrine, they fastened their horses to this jujube tree before entering the building.

BERBABA BUDDHA Ji, is an oldjujube tree standing in the parikrama or circumambulatory terrace along the northern bank of the sacred pool. It is here that the celebrated Baba Buddha, entrusted with the supervision of the digging of the tank, used to sit with his piles of digging tools and implements and other materials used for bricklining the sarovar and later for the construction of the Harimandar. A marble platform now surrounds the tree trunk.

GURDWARA DUKH BHANJANI BERI Stands on the eastern flank of the sarovar by the side of yet another jujube tree known as Dukh Bhanjani (lit. eradicator of suffering) Beri. The place is associated with the legend of Bibi Rajani whose leper husband is said to have been cured of his malady by having a dip in the old pond which had existed here since ancient times. Guru Ram Das, hearing the report of this miracle, decided to develop the reservoir into a proper bathing tank. He is himself said to have given the tree the name Dukh Bhanjani. People have a strong faith that water in this portion of the tank will heal their ailments.

GURDWARA THARHA SAHIB, situated in a narrow street called Bazar Tharha Sahib, a little way north of the Akal Takht, commemorates Guru Tegh Bahadur's visit to Amritsar in 1664. Soon after assuming office as Guru, he had come from Bakala to pay homage at the Harimandar, but the priests in charge who belonged to the rival Mina sect shut the doors of the holy shrine in his face. Guru Tegh Bahadur then sat praying for some time at the spot now marked by Gurdwara Tharha (lit. platform) Sahib and then went back towards the village of Valla. The Gurdwara is a twostoreyed domed structure. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated on the first floor. The ground floor which gives the look of a basement cellar has a platform and the stump of an old tree believed to be the one under which Guru Tegh Bahadur had sat.

GURDWARA MANJI SAHIB, adjacent to the eastern boundary of the compound housing the Harimandar and the sarovar, is situated in what was formerly known as Guru ka Bagh (the Guru's garden). This was the place where Guru Arjan used to hold the daily divan. A marbled platform marks the spot where the Guru used to sit on a manji (cot) with the Sikhs squatting on the ground in front. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated in an adjoining room. A vast divan hall constructed in front of Manji Sahib during recent decades now covers most of the former Guru ka Bagh.

GURDWARA GURU KE MAHAL, as the name signifies, marks the residential house of the Gurus. It is situated west of the Akal Takht across Guru ka Bazar street. Originally constructed as a modest hut by Guru Ram Das in 1573, it was enlarged and beautified by Guru Arjan Dev and Guru Hargobind. The old house has since been converted into a gurdwara with the Guru Granth Sahib seated in a large rectangular hall. Besides the daily services, a special divan and Guru ka Langar are held on every Sunday following the first of a Bikrami month.

The most important event of the year is the celebration of the birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur who was born here on Baisakh vadf5, 1678 Bk/1 April 1621.

GURDWARA BABA ATAL SAHIB, a 9 storey octagonal tower, over 45 metres high, standing close to the Kaulsar pool about 200 metres southeast of the Harimandar, marks the spot where Baba Atal Rai, 9 year old son of Guru Hargobind, passed away on 9 Assu 1685 Bk/ 13 September 1628. See ATAL RAI, BABA. A simple memorial in honour of Baba Atal was raised on the site originally. The construction of the present edifice commenced after the Sikh misls had established their authority in the Punjab. The cornerstone was laid in 1770 and the first three storeys had been completed by 1784. The upper floors were raised by Maharaja Ranjit Singh during the 1820's. Sardar Desa Singh Majithia contributed the gold for gilding the dome at the top. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated in a small inner room on the ground floor. The first six storeys are larger than the upper ones which rise above the central sanctum. The doors on the ground floor, four in number, are decorated with embossed designs, on brass and silver sheets. Interior walls and the ceiling are covered with murals depicting scenes from the lives of Guru Nanak, his two sons and nine successors, Guru Gobind Singh's four sons and Baba Buddha.

In olden days, the ground around Baba Atal Sahib (as the building is popularly called) were used as a cremation ground and the area was dotted with samadhs (memorial shrines) raised for eminent sardars (chiefs), saints (holy men), and warriors. The shrine was taken over by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in August 1921. During the process of widening the parikrama, most of the samadhs were demolished. Those surviving include the ones commemorating Jassa Singh Ahluvalia and Nawab Kapur Singh.

GURDWARA MAI KAULAN DA ASTHAN is on the bank of the Kaulsar tank, both the tank as well as the shrine sharing the name Kaulan. Kaulan was, according to tradition, the adopted Hindu daughter (slavegirl, according to some sources) of Rustam Khan, the Qazi of Muzang, a suburb of Lahore. She was of a religious bent of mind from the very beginning and, as she grew up, she became acquainted with the teachings of the Gurus and turned a devotee of Guru Hargobind. Her father did not quite approve of this and subjected her to the harshest treatment to dissuade her from the path she seemed to be carving for herself. But she remained adamant and fled home to seek refuge with Guru Hargobind at Amritsar. Gurdwara Mai Kaulan da Asthan, as the name signifies, marks the site of the house where she lived. After a few years she shifted to Kartarpur, near Jalandhar, where she died in 1629. The Kaulsar tank was excavated by Guru Hargobind for Kaulan's convenience. It was rainfed and remained neglected until desilted, cleaned and renovated in 1872 and connected to the hansli, or water channel bringing waters of the River Ravi to the Amritsar sarovars, in 1884.

GURDWARA RAMSAR stands on the bank of the Ramsar sarovar, near Chativind Gate, on the southeastern side of the walled city. After the completion of the Harimandar, Guru Arjan undertook the compilation of Adi Granth, the Holy Book, now revered as Guru Granth Sahib. For this task, he chose a secluded site. The spot selected was then a shady nook, one km away from the bustle of the town. To make the surroundings more agreeable, he had a tank dug which was named Ramsar after Guru Ram Das. Here, Guru Arjan composed his famous Sukhmani, the Psalm of Peace, and with Bhai Gurdas as his scribe compiled the Adi Granth during 1603-04. The present Gurdwara Ramsar, a small marblelined hall topped by a gilded, fluted lotus dome built in 1855, marks the site of the Guru's labours.

GURDWARA BIBEKSAR stands on the eastern flank of the tank Bibeksar got dug by Guru Hargobind in 1628 for the convenience of such pilgrims as would prefer seclusion to the hustle and bustle of the immediate environs of the main shrine. The Gurdwara lies northeast of Ramsar between Chativind and Sultanvind gates of the walled city. The Gurdwara was raised by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1833. The building for Guru ka Langar and a well were added in 1905-06. The Gurdwara was controlled by Nihangs until its management statutorily passed to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in 1925.

GURDWARA TAHLI SAHIB is connected with yet another sarovar - Santokhsar close to the Town Hall in the heart of the old city. Santokhsar, 148x110 metres and 2nd only to the Amrit sarovar in size, is said to been the first tank the digging of which was commenced by Bhai Jetha (later Guru Ram Das) in 1564 under the direction of Guru Amar Das. But before long Bhai Jetha was called back to Goindval, and Santokhsar remained halfdug until Guru Arjan Dev completed it in 1588. It fell into neglect during the turbulent eighteenth century and was resurrected only in 1903 after the municipal committee of Amritsar had declared it a health hazard and threatened to fill it up. Although in 1824 it had been connected to a canal fed channel, or hansli, to make it independent of the vagaries of rainfall, the channel had become choked with silt and the tank was turned into a receptacle for locality garbage. A complete desilting was carried out in 1919 through karseva (voluntary free service) under Sant Sham Singh and Sant Gurmukh Singh. The Gurdwara derives its name from a tahli tree, Dalbergia sisoo, of which only a stump now remains near the main gateway. It is believed that this was the tree under which Guru Ram Das and after him Guru Arjan stood supervising the excavation of the tank. The Gurdwara comprising a rectangular hall on the western side of Santokhsar sarovar is next to the Tahli Sahib stump as one enters the walled compound enclosing the sarovar and the shrine.

GURDWARA CHAURASTI ATARI, literally, a tall house at a road crossing (chaurasta, in Punjabi) is located by the side of a plaza at the end of Guru ka Bazar in the heart of the old city. It is dedicated to Guru Hargobind who occasionally came here to rest. The plaza was the site of the initial encounter with an imperial force that attacked the Guru in 1629; The original house was demolished under the orders of the British officials soon after the annexation of the Punjab, in order to widen the plaza. The present building, smaller in size, has the Guru Granth Sahib seated on the ground floor. Besides daily prayers, special congregations take place on the first and the fifth day of the light half of every lunar month.

GURDWARA LOHGARH SAHIB, about One km to the northwest of Harimandar, marks the site of a fort of the same name (lit. fort of steel) constructed by Guru Hargobind for the defence of the town. The main battle of Amritsar between the Guru and an imperial force under Mukhlis Khan in May 1629 was fought here. The present Gurdwara stands on the ruined mound of the fort, which was razed by Ahmad Shah Durrani during one of his invasions in the mideighteenth century. The nearby gate in the city wall constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh is also known as Lohgarh Gate.

GURDWARA PIPLI SAHIB, about 1.5 km west of Amritsar railway station towards the Khalsa College, marks the spot where a large sangat, column of devotees, coming from Afghanistan and northwestern districts of the Punjab to take part in the excavation of the main Amritsar tank was welcomed by Guru Arjan, who came forward personally to receive them and who subsequently made it into a resting place for sarigats coming to Amritsar from that direction. The Gurdwara is connected by a 150metre link road to the main Sher Shah Suri Marg near Putlighar. It came into prominence again in 1923 when crowds of volunteers for the karseva or desilting operation of the Darbar Sahib tank first assembled here and then proceeded to the work site in a procession on 17 June 1923. The Gurdwara was reconstructed during the 1930's. Besides the daily services, a fair is held here on the occasion ofBasant Panchmi (JanuaryFebruary).

GURDWARA SHAHIDGANJ BABA DIP SINGH near the Chativind Gate of the walled city commemorates the martyrdom ofBaba Dip Singh (q.v.) of the Shahid misi, who, coming from Damdama Sahib (Talvandi Sabo) in Bathinda district to liberate the Darbar Sahib, which had been attacked and desecrated by the Afghan invaders, was mortally wounded here on 11 November 1757. Jassa Singh (d. 1803) of Ramgarhia misi raised a memorial platform on the site which was developed into a gurdwara byAkali Phula Singh (d. 1823). It was managed for long by the descendants of Sardar Karam Singh of Shahid misi, and was handed over to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in 1924. The surrounding estate owned by the descendants of Jassa Singh Ramgarhia was also donated later to the Gurdwara Shahidganj.

GURDWARA SHAHIDGANJ BABA GURBAKHSH SINGH, a small shrine standing in a narrow bazar behind the Akal Bunga, commemorates the saga of heroism ofBaba Gurbakhsh Singh Nihang and his twentynine comrades who faced a Durrani horde in December 1764 and fell to the last man fighting in defence of the Harimandar.

DHARAMSALA BHAI SALHO Ji, near Gurdwara Guru ke Mahal, commemorates the name of Bhai Salho (d. 1628), a devout Sikh who served Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan, and Guru Hargobind. Entrusted with the general administration of the nascent town, he was popularly called kotwal, the police chief, of Amritsar. The Dharamsala was his residence as well as his place of work. A nearby pond, called Bhai Salho's Tobha (lit. pond), was filled up by the British in 1863. The Dharamsala has since been converted into a gurdwara, a twostoreyed building topped by a gilded dome with ancillary buildings such as Guru ka Langar and residential rooms for officiants.

GURDWARA DARSHANI DIORHI represents the gateway to Amritsar during its infancy built by Guru Arjan. As one entered the new habitation through it, paths led to Guru ke Mahal on the right and the Harimandar on the left with no houses in between to obstruct a glimpse (darshan, in Punjabi) of the two holy places. Hence the name Darshani Diorhi (diorhi= portal or gateway). Converted into a small gurdwara, it now stands amidst the crowded Bazar Mai Sevan, near its junction with Guru ka Bazar.

GURDWARA DAMDAMA SAHIB, located between the railway line and the Sher Shah Suri Marg about 3 km east of Amritsar railway station, is dedicated to Guru Tegh Bahadur who halted here for some time on his way from Amritsar to Valla in 1664 (See Gurdwara Tharha Sahib). Damdama means a place for a brief halt. As the news that the Guru had been denied entry into the Harimandar by the Mina priests spread, the Amritsar sangat, mostly women, came out to see him. They went first to the Darbar Sahib and, learning that the Guru had already left, they with a view to atoning for the impudence and folly of the priests, followed him. They caught up with him at this spot and begged his forgiveness for what had happened and entreated him to return and visit the holy shrine with them. Guru Tegh Bahadur declined their request to go back, adding that he had no complaint or rancour against anyone. He pronounced this blessing for the women: maian rabb razaian (Ever blessed by the Lord be the ladies). Construction of the present building of the Gurdwara was started in the beginning of the twentieth century by Sant Singh Kalivale, a trader in limestone.

BURJ AKALI PHULA SINGH,It is a tower situated in Amritsar City (at 31.626N,74.8856E)in memory of Akali Phula Singh ,a very famous general of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat Sahib at that time.

Some other sacred spots in Amritsar are Har Ki Pauri, a flight of steps going down to the water level behind the Harimandar;

Athsath Tirath, a gilded kiosk constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh along the southern bank of the sarovar, and Tharha Sahib, a small shrine between Athsath Tirath and Ber Baba Buddha Ji commemorating Guru Amar Das and Guru Arjan.