Kavi Darbar

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View of Kavi Darbar from Gurdwara Dastar Asthan

Kavi Darbar is the name given to an event or gathering where poets ("Kavi") assemble to engage in recitation of their poetry. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru is famous for his love of poetry. Every month on a full moon night, he used to arrange such a "gathering of poets" near the Gurdwara Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh state, India. The place where he arranged these gathering is also called "Kavi Darbar". It is an open air location adjacent of the River Yamuna

When Guru Gobind Singh came to Nahan state in about 1682 at a invitation of its ruler Medni Parkash, he settled at the spot where Gurdwara Paonta Sahib has been built at a place where Guru Gobind Singh had established his first camp after meeting the ruler of Nahan. According to historians, the ruler of Nahan had asked Guru Gobind Singh to select any place in his kingdom for settling permanently. After touring the entire state, Guru Gobind Singh picked up the place adjacent to the Yamuna. The captivating scenic beauty of the place must have made the Guru select the spot.

Guru Gobind Singh established his fort at the selected place. He also set up a cantonment where his "fauj" stayed. With the support of Guru Gobind Singh, the ruler of Nahan was able to save his territory from being wrested by Raja Fateh Shah of Gharwal.


Guru Gobind Singh, launched his armed crusade from Paonta Sahib where he stayed more than four years from 1685 to 1689. He fought the first war against hill chiefs in the battlefield of Bhangani, at a short distance from Paonta Sahib. When he emerged victorious in the war word spread around that he was the most skilled warrior who could win battles with a small number of soldiers.

In the war of Bhangani, Guru Gobind Singh finished some of the hill chiefs. Pir Budhu Shah, a resident of Sadhoura village in Ambala district who was a sepoy in the Guru’s fauj, was honoured by Guru Gobind Singh after the war was won. Some of the close relations of Guru Gobind Singh, including his cousin Sango Shah, achieved martyrdom in the war of Bhangani. The Guru has made a detailed mention of this war in Bachittar Natak.


The foundation stone of Paonta Sahib is believed to have been laid by Guru Gobind Singh in 1685. A huge gurdwara has come up on the bank of the Yamuna where Guru Gobind Singh stayed.

Situated at about 125 km from Chandigarh via Nahan, 105 km from Ambala via Jagadhri, 80 km from Mussoorie via Dehra Dun, 178 km from Shimla and 65 km from Saharanpur, Paonta Sahib has now emerged as a big tourist centre of Himachal Pradesh. Sikhs from all over the country and even abroad visit this place.

Guru Gobind Singh produced his best literature during his stay at Paonta Sahib. He wrote Bachittar Natak, Jaap Sahib, Sawayyas and Chandi-di-war. He sent his five disciples to Kashi to learn Sanskrit. He held a Kavi Sammelan every purnima in which poets of different languages participated. Even now on every full moon night Kavi sammelanis organised by the management of the gurdwara.

Daily remembrance

Without fail every morning before starting holy proceedings, obeisance is paid to Rishi Kalpi, Medni Parkash, Pir Budhu Shah and others associated with the place. Hola Mohalla, Baisakhi, birth anniversary of Sahibzada Ajit Singh, the eldest son of Guru Gobind Singh, who was born here and birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev are some of the major events that are marked by functions organised by the gurdwara management.

Gurdwara Harmandir Sahib has been built at the place where Guru Gobind Singh held his first camp. Another gurdwara, called Gurdwara Dastar Asthan, has been raised at a place where Guru Gobind Singh used to hold turban tying competitions. A Kavi Darbar asthan has been also built in the gurdwara complex.

Vidya Sar, built in the complex, can be used by any writer, poet or scholar for carrying out research with regard to Sikhism. Free boarding and lodging is provided to scholars by the management of the gurdwara. A library and a museum has also been set up adjacent to Vidya Sar. There are a number of other shrines like gurdwara Tir Garhi Sahib, Gurdwara Bhangani Sahib and Gurdwara Shergarh Sahib (a man-eating tiger was killed by the Guru at this place) near Paonta Sahib.

See also