Religions over the years have managed to make spaces for people to congregate and offer prayers. One such place of worship and congregation is the Gurudwara which is the religious place for the Sikhs. Gurudwara literally translates as the ‘Gate to Reach the Gurus’. Like any other religion, Sikhism exhorts its followers to walk the righteous path individually. Having said that, Sikhism also promotes the idea of Sangat which means Congregation. Sikhism promotes the worship of God individually but also in a state of togetherness. Serving as a community centre for the Sikhs, there are thousands of Gurudwaras scattered across the state of Punjab. The Gurudwara places no restriction on any person and all men alike are allowed and welcomed at a Gurudwara. The Gurudwaras also has one thing in common which is a common kitchen service called the Langar. The Langar symbolizes equality and asks people to attend a community meal. The Langar celebrates the very essence and Spirit of Sikhism and its ideology that calls for equality in mankind that overlooks the caste, creed, religion and sex of the people. Hence, The Langar invites men and women over these differences and serves them a joyous meal which they enjoy together.
Several Gurudwaras in Punjab and elsewhere also house a huge pond which is called as the ‘Sarovar’. The bath in this Sarovar is purely on the discretion of the believers, yet it is asserted that one must purify the body to achieve something worthwhile from the sarovar. Sikhs also believe that the water purifies only the external body but the internal soul must be cleansed by an individual himself. Another distinct feature of Sikhism is that they as opposed to other religions do not assert a religious pilgrimage. Sikhs believe the Shri Guru Granth Sahib, which is the holy book of Sikhs as the supreme commander of their beliefs and ideals and hence find it established at all the sites in every Gurudwara hence making all of them equal in stature.
Some of the Most Visited Gurudwaras in Punjab are :
Har Mandir Sahib or Golden Temple
Famous as the Golden Temple, The Har Mandir Sahib Gurudwara is the most famous gurudwara in the world. This Gurudwara is also referred as Sri Darbar Sahib at many occasions. Located right in the heart of the older city of Amritsar, the Golden Temple or the Harmandir Sahib stands majestically with all its pious glory on a platform of rectangular shape. The golden beauty of the Gurudwara is glittered through the surrounding waters of the Amrit Sarovar. This Amrit Sarovar is the source of the name for the city of Amritsar.
The architectural grammar of Golden temple has the best of both worlds as it combines the perfection of both Hindu and Islamic architecture. The two stories of the marbled structure can be accessed through the Guru's Bridge. With a golden dome as its crowning jewel, the higher part of the Har Mandir Sahib is decorated and glittered with gold plated styling. The Dome imitates a reverse lotus.
In close proximity (merely 24 kms) of the city of Amritsar, stands the majestic Gurudwara which is called the Tarn Tarn Gurudwara. The temple owes its establishment to the holy Guru Arjun Dev Singh Ji who was the Fifth Guru of The Singh. It is believed that the Gurudwara was used by Shri Arjun Dev Ji as a place for leprosy patients.
Just like the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, the Tarn tarn Gurudwara too is bordered by the waters of the Sarovar. The Sarovar is believed by many to have the supernatural power of curing. Many go on to assert that the cure for Leprosy can be achieved through a swim across the Sarovar. The Sarovar is huge in size and even a brisk walk around it takes considerable amount of time.
On the higher end of the sites of Pilgrimage for the Sikhs stands the city of Goindwal. Almost 30kms south east of the holy City of Amritsar lies the city of Goindwal which houses an array of important Sikh Shrines. Out of the many places, The Goindwal Sahib is considered as the most important of all. This Gurudwara called the Goindwal Sahib attracts tourist from across the country and stands majestically as a jewel in the throne and crown of Punjab.
Guru Shri Amar Das Ji is credited with the establishment of a baoli here which boasts of a total of 84 stairs. Sikhs believe that the Baoli offers Moksha (Salvation) to anybody who recites the Japji Sahib while bathing in its waters.
This Baoli known as the Goindwal Baoli Sahib is often considered by religious heads and historians as the first site of the Sikhs. This place hence assumes the position of an important and indispensible site for both Hindus and Sikhs. The believers and pilgrims are welcomed with huge stands that recite and boast of the glorious history of the Sikhs. A huge number of tourists come here to enjoy and savor the traditional langar which the lace offers.
Almost at a distance of 52 Kilometers from the historic city of Amritsar, very close to the Goindwal Sahib lies the historic Khadur Sahib which till the present day honors the seat and throne of the Sikhs during the time of second Guru of Sikhism. The place is said to have been blessed by the holy being of Guru Angad who propagated the message of God and Sikhism from this place, hence this humble village of Khadur was blessed with the status of Khadur Sahib. Therefore, a huge Gurudwara called as the Khadi Sahib was commissioned here in honor of Guru Angad Dev Ji.
The name of this place is associated with a story that explains how this place once belonged to a Khadi or a hand cloth weaver. One fine day, while Guru Amar Das Ji was away for fetching water for Guru Angad Dev Ji, he accidentally fell into the pit of the weaver. Taking into consideration the thirst of his Guru, Guru Amar Das held the water pitcher on his head and saved it from spilling while he cared none about his own injuries. Guru Angad Dev Ji soon learned about this incident and was highly pleased by such devotion and love and hence promised a gift for the devotion. He hence named him as the third Guru of the Sikhs. It is since then that Guru Amar Das became the messiah for the poor, homeless and tattered souls who flock the Gurudwara in search of peace and Moksha.
At a meager distance of 45 kms from the city of Amritsar lies the important Sikh Gurudwara called the Baba Bakala Gurudwara. The place is held in high regard as it was here that Shri Makhan Shah Lubana while looking for the rightful guru eventually reached him and was overjoyed and hence announced his discovery from a rooftop. This was the basis of this peaceful and tranquil Gurudwara which was later called as the Baba Bakala.
Baba Bakala is often believed and respected as the heir of Guru Harkrishan Sahib Ji who embraced this place post his departure from the physical world. Before leaving the physical world in the city of Delhi in March 1664, holy Guru Harkrishan Sahib Ji in his bleak and weak voice said, 'Baba Bakala', which suggested the village where his successor could be found. At the village of Barkala, Guru Tegh Bahadur was found. Guru Tegh Bahadur was hence overlooked above many fake babas and Sadhus and was appointed as the rightful successor of the Guru. This incident and its relevance in the history of the Sikhs make the Gurudwara at Baba Bakala a really important one.
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