Lakhnaur

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LAKHNAUR, 10 km south of Ambala City (30"23'N, 76"47'E), was the ancestral village of Mata Gujari, mother of Guru Gobind Singh. Returning in 1670 to Patna after his long eastern journey, Guru Tegh Bahadur asked his family to travel straight to Lakhnaur, while he himself made a detour and went to Delhi before rejoining them there. Mata Gujari accompanied by her fouryearold son, Gobind Singh, named Gobind Rai at birth, and escorted by her brother, Kirpal Chand, and other Sikhs, arrived at Lakhnaur on 13 September 1670, and stayed here for about six months with her elder brother, Bhai Mehar Chand, and Bhai Jetha, the local masand or sangat leader. It was here that a Muslim divine, Sayyid Shah Bhikh or Bhikhan Shah, of Thaska, then residing at Ghuram, an old town about 30 km southeast ofPatiala, came, guided by his spiritual vision, to pay homage to Gobind Singh. Bhikhan Shah, in order to know the aptitude and religious leanings of the future Guru, offered two small earthen pots containing sweets to him, writing one in his own mind for Hindus and the other for the Muslims. Gobind Singh placed his hands one on the either pot, and, having sent for another one, placed it between the two, thus signifying that not only would he show equal respect to the Hindus as well as to the Muslims, he would add a third one to the number. The Sayyid convinced of the divine light in the child paid his respectful obeisance to him. Another Muslim mystic, Pir 'Araf Din, is also mentioned as having bowed before him perceiving the manifestation of heavenly grace in his earthly presence.

Water in the wells in Lakhnaur was brackish and lukewarm. The only well having sweet and cold water was outside the village and it had long been in disuse as its walls had caved in. At Mata Gujari's instance, a new narrower well was dug within the old ruined one, thus reviving this source of cold sweet water. The well, used by the villagers to this day, is reverently called Mataji da Khuh or Mata Gujari da Khuh (The holy mother's well).

The place where the Guru had stayed was maintained for a time by someone from Mata Gujari's paternal line, and later by one Baba Harbakhsh Singh who is said to have looked after it for sixty years. This was a period of great turmoil for the Sikhs. The persecution campaign against them reached its climax in the Great Holocaust pf 1762. The Muslim chief of Kot Kachhua, near Lakhnaur, had also participated in this massacre. During the retaliatory operations launched by the Sikhs in 176364, Kot Kachhua was razed to the ground and its debris transported to Lakhnaur to construct a shrine in the form of a large haveli. After the British occupation of the Punjab in March 1849, the rulers ofPatiala acquired Lakhnaur and a few neighbouring villages from the British, surrendering some territory of their own in exchange. After 1947, the historic shrine in Lakhnaur was first placed under the Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) Dharm Arth Board and later, consequent upon the merger of PEPSU with the Punjab, under the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The main building of the Gurudwara is constructed on a high plinth in the centre of the haved. It is itself in the form of an inner haveli consisting of the shrine proper in the centre, a narrow compound, and rooms along three of the walls. A flight of steps leads to the inner shrine which has a square sanctum with a high lotus dome and four smaller decorative domes at the corners. The whole interior, including the cupola is tastefully decorated with designs and patterns in colour. The exterior, too, is adorned with round pilasters, doorsized niches, alcoves, and a wide curved coping. Sikhs gather here in large numbers on the first of each Bikrami month, when special divans take place. An annual fair on the occasion of Dussehra commemorates the special ceremony held on this day in 1670 when offerings were made to Gobind Singh by his maternal uncle, Mehar Chand, and Bhai Jetha the masand, and other Sikhs.

References

1. Shahi, Joginder Singh, Sikh Shrines in India and Abroad. Faridabad, 1978