Sikh Pilgrimage
 
Anandpur Sahib

"Wahe Guru", an expression praising the master of the universe is on the lips of every devotee that comes to Anandpur Sahib. You will immediately feel the sense of serenity that pervades this 'city of divine bliss', one of the four seats of authority of the Sikh religion, where magnificent pure-white gurudwaras beckon pilgrims from afar. The gurudwara and forts here have witnessed some of the most significant events in Sikh religious history. The Khalsa Panth was founded here, a council of five wise men that governs Sikh religious affairs was first established here, as was the practice of worshipping the Guru Granth Sahib. Anandpur Sahib is the ideal place to gain an insight into the essence of Sikhism that governs the life of tough, hardy Sardars from Bhatinda to Birmingham. During the festivals of Holla Mohalla (March) and Baisakhi (April) you can join the sea of devotees who flock to Anandpur Sahib, converting it into a carnival zone brimming with religious fervour, culture, tradition and gaiety.

Anandpur Sahib is a small town 80 km from Chandigarh. It lies in the Ropar district of north-east Punjab, on the border with Himachal Pradesh. On one side of Anandpur Sahib are the foothills of the towering Shivalik range, on the other, the river Sutlej. Located on the Ambala-Sirhind-Ropar-Nangal rail route and the Ambala-Nangal road, it is 45 km from Ropar and 22 km from Nangal.

Kesar Sahib Gurdwara lies in the centre of town and is a five minute walk from the bus stand on the highway. Between Kesar Sahib and the bus stand lies a market with numerous chemists, snack shops and STD booths. The main town is spread in a labyrinth of small lanes behind the Kesar Sahib, but also extends to the area between Kesar Sahib and Anandgarh Fort. The railway station is a ten minute walk from the bus stand on the main highway, towards Ambala.

How to Reach

Chandigarh is the nearest airport, 97 km away. Jet Airways (daily) and Indian Airlines (twice a week) operate flights between New Delhi and Chandigarh. Indian Airlines also operates flights to Chandigrah from Amritsar (twice a week) and Leh (once a week).
The main railhead for trains coming in from Mumbai is Ambala Cantonment, 125 km away. From Ambala Cantonment there are a few passenger trains running to Nangal and an Express train as well, all of which stop in Anandpur Sahib.

Sights to Visit

Anandpur Sahib is a city of gurudwara and forts. There are 33 big and small gurudwara in Anandpur and Keeratpur, all historically connected to the visits and deeds of the Sikh gurus.

Kesar Sahib

Kesar Sahib or Kesgarh Sahib is the biggest and most important gurudwara in Anandpur Sahib. This impressive white structure is illuminated at night and is the town's biggest landmark. It is one of the four seats of authority of the Sikh religion and is therefore also called Takht Kesar Sahib.

Located on a small hill this is where the revelation of Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh and the first initiation of the Panch Pyares took place. The Kesar Sahib fort was built around it in 1699. Between 1700 and 1705 armies attacked Anandpur Sahib several times, but never penetrated the fort. It was only after Guru Gobind Singh deserted it in 1705, that the fort was captured. Today there are no remains of this fort.

During the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in the late 1820s, peace reigned in the region and regular granthis (priests) began serving at Kesar Sahib gurdwara. For about a century, Kesar Sahib gurdwara had only one granthi but after the Gurdwara Reform Movement (1920-25), a jathedar (leader) was appointed here.

You will find the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, in the main hall of the gurdwara. In the middle of the hall behind it you will find a small rectangular glass structure which houses 12 relics. These relics are associated with Guru Gobind Singh and the Sikh martyrs. Six of these relics were brought from Nanded where Guru Gobind Singh died, and five were brought from England in 1966. They include:
Khanda - a double-edged sword believed to be the sword with which Guru Gobind Singh prepared amrit on the day of revelation of Khalsa.
Kataar - the personal dagger of Guru Gobind Singh which was used for hand to hand combat. Saif - a double-edged weapon. It is believed that this weapon belonged to Khalifa Ali (the son-in-law of the Muslim prophet Hazrat Mohammed) and had been used by Ali's sons, Hassan and Hussain. It remained with the successors of Ali who presented it to Aurangzeb in appreciation of his contribution to the spread of Islam. After the accession of Bahadur Shah to the Mughal throne, he gave it as a token of thanks to Guru Gobind Singh. Gun – a Sikh presented this gun from Lahore on the Guru's hukamnama (order) asking Sikhs to bring him gifts of fine horses, books and weapons.
Naagni Barchha - The blade of this spear is in the shape of a female serpent. It was Guru Gobind Singh's spear. On September 1, 1700 when Ajmer Chand's army planned to bring a drunk elephant to break open the main gate of the Lohagarh fort, the guru gave Bhai Bachitar Singh the spear to turn the elephant back. He attacked and wounded the animal with this spear causing it to retreat and kill several soldiers of Ajmer Chand's army. Karpa Barchha - a spear that has a hand-shaped blade that was used during the marriage ceremony of the Guru in 1677. According to legend, there was an acute shortage of water at Guru Ka Lahore, the venue for the wedding ceremony. The Guru is believed to have struck the ground with this spear causing three springs to gush forth. Today a pond stands at the site of these three springs. In the war with Ajmer Chand, Bhai Udey Singh killed Raja Kesari Chand (Ajmer Chand's uncle), with this spear, then carried his head on it to present it to the Guru. The hill soldiers shot several arrows to stop him but the spear deflected them. The spear bears the marks of those arrows. The gurdwara also has some assorted artefacts from England:
A big spear, a small spear, the Shamshir-i-Tegh (a sword), Dah-i-Ahni (a golden quoit) and a shield made from rhinoceros skin, are all part of the collection.
Attached to this gurdwara is a huge langar (free community kitchen) hall, which reportedly, can seat 40,000 people. Three buildings house the sarais (inns) or dharamshalas (community lodges) with about 400 rooms where pilgrims can stay free. An information centre within the Kesar Sahib complex can give you details of the shrine. Tel: (01887) 3203

Gurdwara Guru de Mahal

Guru Tegh Bahahdur laid the foundation stone of Chakk Nanaki here and this is also where Guru Gobind Singh's family lived. The sprawling complex also includes Gurdwara Bohra Sahib, Manji Sahib and Damdama Sahib. Damdama Sahib is also known as Gurdwara Takht Sahib, as Guru Tegh Bahadur performed the functions of Akal Takht Sahib from here. It was also the Diwane-i-Khas, the court of the Guru. Guru Gobind Singh was made the tenth guru here, on July 8, 1675. In March 1698 Guru Gobind Singh summoned all the Masands (treasurers) to Anandpur Sahib, and they were tried here.

Gurdwara Sis Ganj

It was at this gurdwara that the head of the martyred Guru Tegh Bahadur Singh was brought back by Bhai Jatia and his associates. His head was cremated here on November 17, 1675. When Guru Gobind Singh fled the town on December 5, 1705 he visited this place and appointed Bhai Gurbaksh Das Udasi caretaker.

Gurdwara Shahidi Bagh

This is the only Gurdwara in Anandpur Sahib, which is not under the control of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC). You will find it on the road between Kesar Sahib and Anandgarh fort. The gurdwara has a garden where a few skirmishes occurred in 1705 when the Bilaspur army laid siege to Anandpur Sahib. Several Sikhs lost their lives here and in their honour, it was named Gurdwara Shahidi (martyrdom).

Anandgarh Sahib fort and gurudwara

This was the first fort of Anandpur Sahib. Its foundation stone was laid on March 31, 1689. Guru Gobind Singh spent nearly 16 years in this fort, as it was strong and strategically located. The arms and ammunition of the Khalsa army were stored here. It was almost demolished by the army of Ajmer Chand in 1705. Several years later, the Sikhs built a gurdwara at the site of Anandgarh fort. Later S Jassa Singh Ahluwalia built a baoli (step well) here. A few walls of the fort existed on the northern side until 1985, but were removed to make room for a new building. The other fort walls were destroyed to make way for a circular road. Nevertheless, the gurdwara perched on a hill is an impressive sight. During the tri-centenary celebrations of the Khalsa Panth in 1999, a sound and light show depicting the history of the Sikhs in general and Anandpur Sahib in particular was held in this gurudwara every evening. This show commences each year during the Holla Mohalla and Baisakhi celebrations in March/April.

Lohagarh Sahib Fort

Located two kilometres from Kesar Sahib on the Dera Harban Singh road, across the railway line, it was the second strongest fort of the Sikhs. Here Guru Gobind Singh had set up an arms manufacturing factory. The hill armies of Ajmer Chand could only occupy this fort after the Sikhs deserted Anandpur Sahib in 1705. It is the only fort in Anandpur Sahib with a large part of its fortification still intact. Today it is a serene place with a gurudwara in its precincts. Lush green fields and small hamlets around give no indication of its tumultuous past.

Agamgarh or Holgarh fort

This was the third major fort built by Guru Gobind Singh. Guru Gobind Singh held the Holla Mohalla celebrations in front of the main gate of this fort.

Gurdwara Baba Guruditta

It is perched on a hill one kilometre from Keeratpur on the Manali road. This gurdwara has been built in the memory of Baba Guruditta, son of Guru Hargobind Singh. Baba Guruditta retired to this hill and later took samadhi here. From Baba Guruditta Gurdwara you get a panoramic view of Keeratpur town. There is also a langar here. On the way here, you will see another small gurdwara called Teer Sahib.

Gurdwara Patalpuri

This gurdwara has been built on the banks of the river Sutlej. It is situated across the railway tracks and is the place where residents of Keeratpur Sahib are cremated. Guru Hargobind and Guru Har Rai were cremated here and the ashes of Guru Harkrishan were brought from Delhi in 1644 and immersed here. A row of stalls line the road leading to the gurdwara. They sell interesting items like swords, daggers and staffs. Swords are priced at Rs 165. You have to bargain for a good deal.

Gurdwara Sish Mahal

After the foundation stone of Keeratpur Sahib was laid, the first building to be erected was the residence of Baba Guruditta. This gurdwara has been built on the site of that residence which was also the home of Guru Hargobind's family from 1635 to 1663. This gurdwara lies across the canal and is an impressive white structure.

Gurdwara Charan Kanwal

It was built in the memory of Guru Nanak Sahib who visited the place a century before the town was established. The gurdwara is next to Sish Mahal, just off the main road of Keeratpur, across the canal. It is under renovation during 2001.

 
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