Gurunanak Jayanthi : The 10 best Gurudwara’s in India One Must Visit in life time
In the 15th century a religion emerged in India that spoke about equality, bravery and generosity. Sikhism, founded by the humble saint Guru Nanak, proved to be one of the most powerful religions in the history of India. This religion gave us a league of extraordinary men that fought for truth and became pillars of courage. Today, Sikhism is the fourth-largest religion in India with 2% of the country’s total population following it. Their places of worship called Gurudwara are the sacred shrines that not only render us spiritual comfort but also offer us an insight into how Sikhism has sustained.
Guru Nanak Jayanti ranks among the popular festivals in India. It is celebrated to mark the birth of Guru Nanak Sahib and is celebrated with great zeal in the state of Punjab where the Sikh religion is widely prevalent. Punjabi communities in other states also celebrate the festival. The birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib mostly falls on Kartik Puranmashi which is the full moon day of the month Kartik according to the Indian calendar. Guru Nanak Jayanti is celebrated with huge fanfare and excitement.
Guru Nanak Jayanti Festival is usually a three day festival. Two days prior to the birthday, Akhand Path is held in the Gurudwaras. It is the practice of forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the religious book of the Sikh religion. On the day before the birthday of Guru Nanak Jayanti, people organize a procession which is led by the Panj Pyaras. The Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib and the Palanquin of Sri Guru Granth Sahib are carried in the procession. A group of singers participate in the procession and song hymns along with brass bands. Almost in all parts of Punjab, processions are held.
On the day of the Guru Nanak Jayanti, people get up early in the morning and sing Asa-di-Var or the morning hymns from the Sikh scriptures. Priests recite poems in praise of the Guru in the Gurudwaras. In the afternoon, Langar or special community lunch is prepared and people eat these together with family members and friends. The main objective of this lunch is to offer food as a form of seva (service) and bhakti (devotion). People also perform ‘Gatka’, which is a type of marshal art with the sword. Devotees and pilgrims sing holy songs in praise of the Guru.
There are more than 200 Gurudwaras established across India, Sikhs have managed some of the cleanest and organized places of worship in India. Let us have look at some of the best Gurudwaras in India –
1.Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji and Akal Takht Sahib, Punjab
More popularly known as the Golden Temple, Sri Harmandir Sahib is considered the holiest Sikh shrine in the world, and attracts scores of devotees and curious visitors each day. The most famous among the Five Takhts of Sikhism, this beautiful, gilded haven located in the heart of the old city of Amritsar (which, literally, translates to a ‘tank of nectar of immortality’) stands nearly adjacent to Jallianwala Bagh, and is a serene oasis of calm that makes for more than just an unforgettable sight.
Its illustrious history dates back to the 16th century, when Guru Arjan, the successor to the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das, who founded the city of Amritsar had the shrine built in the centre of the holy tank. Once constructed, he instated the Adi Granth, the holy scripture of Sikhism, inside the temple. The complex also houses the Akal Takht, the throne of the timeless one, instated by the sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind, The shrines, together, represent the spiritual guidance of God as well as his earthly authority and sense of justice.
Considered one of the largest community kitchens in the world, the Golden Temple’s langar feeds over 1,00,000 visitors each day.
2. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, Delhi
Originally a bungalow which belonged to Raja Jai Singh, a local ruler in the 17th century, it was named Jaisinghpura Palace. It was located in the historical neighbourhood which was demolished to make way for the shopping district of Connaught Place. The Gurudwara is associated with the 8th Sikh Guru, Har Krishan who stayed here in the year 1664, during which there was an outbreak of cholera and smallpox epidemic. Guru Har Krishan came to the aid of the affected and used the fresh water from the well at the bungalow. Very soon he too fell victim to the illness and eventually died in the year 1664, after which a small tank was constructed over the well by Raja Jai Singh. Its water is now considered holy and revered as having healing properties, which is why it is taken home by Sikhs across the globe.
3 . Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib
Situated at Anandpur Sahib, also known as the “holy city of bliss,” Sri Keshgarh Sahib is one of the Five Takhts, or Temporal Authorities, of the religion. Considered the birthplace of the Khalsa, it is documented as the founding place of the order of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. In addition to offering prayers, one may also see some of the weapons used by Guru Gobind Singh which are on display here.
4 . Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Patna
Famous for being the birthplace of the 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh (in 1666), Takht Sri Patna Sahib, situated in the city of Patna in Bihar, is also known for being visited by Guru Nanak and Guru Tegh Bahadur during their time. Guru Gobind ji spent his early childhood here before moving to Anandpur Sahib. In addition to being the birthplace of the 10th guru, Patna was also the residence of Guru Gobind Singh ji’s mother, Mata Gujri Ji.
5 . Takht (Sachkhand) Sri Hazur Sahib, Nanded
Built in the historically significant city of Nanded, in Maharashtra, Hazur Sahib served as Guru Gobind Singh ji’s last residing place. While convalescing from an assassination attempt, Gobind Singh ji succumbed to his injuries here after declaring the Guru Granth Sahib as his successor. His followers then built a room over the platform where the Guru would sit, and instated the Guru Granth Sahib there. Much later, in 1830, Maharaja Ranjit Singh had the present building of the Takht Sahib constructed around the room containing the holy scripture.
The shrine is distinct from other gurudwaras not only for its rich history, but also for following the same ancient rituals as were practiced during the lifetime of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. For instance, the application of sandalwood-tilak is still practiced for the local priests and devotees of the gurudwara.
This complex also contains a vault which houses priceless objects, weapons, and other personal belongings of the Guru. However, only the head priest is permitted to access the inner sanctum.
6. Gurudwara Manikaran Sahib, Kullu
The next time you pay a visit to Parvati valley, make a pit stop by the right bank of the Parvati river to take in the beauty of Gurudwara Manikaran Sahib. Surrounded by gushing hot sulphur springs, the shrine is also attached to several important Hindu temples dedicated to goddess Bhagwati, and Lord Rama, Krishna, and Vishnu.
Erected in memory of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the gurudwara has an interesting story pertaining to its environs. Legend has it that the area was once visited by Guru Nanak and his congregation of Sikhs, who were all hungry but had no food. The Guru sent his trusted aide to collect food for the langar, but while many people donated rice and flour to make bread, there was no fire to cook the food. Guru Nanak then lifted a rock and a hot spring appeared.
Even today, it is believed that a dip in the hot springs can help heal skin diseases, or even swelling caused by gout. While the springs now remain fairly crowded through the tourist season, they are well worth a visit to witness a gurudwara unlike any other in the world.
7 . Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Ladakh
Situated at 10,000+ feet, nestled among the stark barren, brassy mountains of the stunning landscape of Ladakh, is this enigmatic shrine that is significant for more than one reason. Managed by the locally stationed regiments of the Indian Army, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is, perhaps, one of the most stunning, but also one of the least accessible gurudwaras on this list.
Located 25 kilometers away from the city of Leh, the gurudwara is, technically, the most recent among the others featured here.
Legend has it, in a nutshell, that sometime in the 16th century, Guru Nanak visited this spot while returning to Punjab, through Srinagar, after visiting Tibet, Nepal, and Sikkim. Once, while seated in deep meditation here, he was attacked by a demon who had terrorised the area, who rolled a large boulder down towards him. The boulder, however, turned to warm wax upon contact with Guru Nanak Dev Ji, and formed a hollow imprint of his seated figure, leaving him unscathed and undisturbed from his meditative stance. Much later, in 1970, several attempts by locals and the armed forces to remove the boulder went in vain, for the rock wouldn’t budge. It is said that both the operator of the bulldozer and a soldier of the Indian Army reported seeing a dream asking them to not remove the stone. Both, however, dismissed the dream, and it was decided to blast the rock. Before any of this could happen, the local Lama and their followers reached the spot to pay their respects and narrated the legend of the imprint in the rock.
Today, this rock sits ensconced in a small, cosy gurudwara, and features a large imprint of what appears to be the commonly portrayed meditative stance of the Guru, as well as an imprint of the demon’s foot.
8 . Sri Hemkunt Sahib, Uttarakhand
Perched at over 15,000 feet in the Himalayan ranges of Uttarakhand, Sri Hemkunt Sahib is an important center of Sikh pilgrimage, which is visited by thousands of devotees each summer. Per mentions in the holy scriptures, including the Dasam Granth (written by Guru Gobind Singh ji himself), it is here that Guru Gobind Singh meditated in a previous birth. Set beside a glacial lake, surrounded by seven mountain peaks, the shrine is nearly inaccessible October through April due to hostile weather conditions.
Another recent construction among those on this list, Hemkunt Sahib’s current structure was erected under the supervision of the Indian Army in the mid-1960s. However, the gurudwaras enroute, Gobind Ghat (6,000 feet) and Gobind Dham (10,500 feet), were built sometime in the 30s.
Possibly the least accessible gurudwara in the world, Hemkunt Sahib makes for an invigorating trek, where one may also include a visit to the fabled Valley of Flowers.
9. Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib, Delhi
One of the nine historical gurudwaras in Delhi, Sis Ganj Sahib commemorates the martyrdom of the ninth Sikh guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur. It is here, now located in the winding alleys of Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi, that Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded at the orders of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb on 11th November, 1675, for refusing to convert to Islam. Before his body could be exposed to the public, it was stolen at night by one of his disciples, Lakhi Shah Banjara, who burnt his house to cremate the Guru’s body with honour. Today there exists another historic gurudwara to mark the site of his cremation, Gurudwara Rakab Ganj Sahib.
10. Data Bandi Chhod Sahib, Gwalior
The Gurudwara Data Bandi Chor Sahib is situated in the hilltop of Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh. After the news of Martyrdom of Shri Guru Arjan Dev ji at Lahore, Baba Budha ji announced Shri Hargobind ji as sixth GURU. Shri Hargobin This led a serious concern to Jahangir, who later summoned Guru Sahib to Delhi where they met several times understanding each other. Once as they went for hunting Jahangir fell sick and Kazi’s and Hakims were called for consult But Chandu bribed them and asked them to suggest Jahangir that his health will be improved if some holy person prayed for him at Gwalior Fort, And that Guru Sahib’s name be suggested. Jahangir asked GURU SAHIB to stay at Gwalior Fort and pray for him. The place where Guru Sahib worshipped is Thada Sahib. Imprisoned for two years in the Gwalior fort Guru Sahib won the freedom of 52 Sikh rulers who were jailed by the then emperor Jahangir.
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