Varanasi or Banaras or Benares (25°20'N, 82°58'E), the holiest place of Hindu pilgrimage, has since ancient times, been one of the most important centres of Sanskrit learning; it's old name is Kashi. Guru Gobind Singh sent five of his Sikhs to Varanasi to study Sanskrit, and following them several centres for the study of Sanskrit and theology were established by Nirmala Sikhs. Thus there are many places of historical importance for the Sikhs in this holy city.
Historical Sikh Shrines
- GURDWARA BARI SAN GAT SRI GURU TEGH BAHADUR, NICHI BAGH - Visited by Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh & Probably Guru Nanak.
- SHRI CHETAN MATH, located in Bishveshvar-ganj, popularly known as Bisesar-ganj. is another site of historical importance. This is the place where the five Sikhs sent by Guru Gobind Singh to study Sanskrit had stayed and which became in due course a centre of the Nirmala Sikhs. The centre now functions as Shri Guru Nanak Nirmal Sanskrit Vidyalaya, affiliated to the Sanskrit University. The Guru Granth Sahib is installed in a portion of the building and is studied by those interested, but such study does not form a part of the school curriculum. Most of the scholars hail from Nepal.
- SANGAT MIR GHAT is situated near Vishalakshi Temple on the bank of the Ganga. The spot is sacred to both Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh. The building consists of a hall with several small rooms attached and a triangular stonepaved compound in front overlooking the river. At present it is used by Udasi students whose main school, Udasin Sanskrit Vidyalaya, is located at some distance from this site. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated in the hall on the raised platform.
- NIRMAL SANGAT LAHORI TOLA, since redesignated Nirmal Sanskrit Vidyalaya, Nirmal Sangat, Lahori Tola, located in the interior of the city near the famous Vishveshwarnath Temple, is another old sangat established and maintained by Sikhs of the Nirmala sect. The building of the Nirmal Sangat was originally a mandir acquired by the Nirmala Sikhs in 1887 circa. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated on the first floor. The institution is affiliated to the Sampurananand Sanskrit Vishvavidyalaya. The present mahantis Gurdip Singh Kesari, a prominent Nirmala scholar of Punjabi origin.
Important People from Varanasi