Shri Keshgarh Sahib

Gurdwara Shri Keshgarh Sahib is located in the center of the city of Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, India at a distance of about 40 KMs from the district headquarters, Rupnagar. It is also known as "Takht Shri Keshgarh Sahib" and is one of five highest Sikh institutions in India; it is the city's main Sikh shrine. The city began as Chakk Nanaki, which was founded by Guru Tegh Bahadur in 1665. His son Guru Gobind Singh ji, who spent 25 years of his life in the city, added greatly to the city's size, giving it the new name of the City of Bliss (Anandpur).

Its foundation stone was laid on March 30,1689. In fact, It was here that the Khalsa was born with the first initiation of Khande Di Pahul, when the young Guru called for a special congregation on the Baisakhi day of 1699 with thousands of Sikhs in attendance. One can only imagine how large the area was around Keshgarh Sahib then to accommodate the many thousands of Sikhs in attendance on that historic day.

Background

At that time the hill of Keshgarh Sahib was at least 10-15 feet higher than it is today. Next to it there was, at that time, another hill known as "Tambu (tent) Wali Pahari", because a special tent was set up there on the day of the revelation of Khalsa. That hill and a long range of small hills which extended from Kesgarh Sahib to Anandpur fort no longer exists, because in the name of progress, in 1973, a road was constructed to link Kesgarh Sahib and Anandgarh Sahib fort that necessitated levelling the hill tops.

Keshgarh Sahib fort was built in 1699. The neighboring hill armies attacked Anandpur Sahib several times between 1700 and 1705, but were never able to reach Kesgarh Sahib because the fort was seemingly impregnable and besides, before reaching the gates of Kesgarh the armies would have had to capture the forts at Taragarh, Agamgarh, Fatehgarh and Anandgarh and that never happened.

 

Departure of Anandpur Sahib

It was only after the half starved occupants of the city and its defensive forts, convinced Guru Sahib to agree to leave the city, under the promise of safe passage from their attackers. It was only when the great Guru and his Sikhs were about to forge a nearby river, that the hill armies entered the fort and began to demolish it.

The Sikhs were unable to return to Anandpur Sahib until Baba Banda Singh's efforts to retake the city proved successful. Banda Bahadur also subjugated the ruler of Bilaspur, who had been behind the siege of the city in 1705. But all too soon the Sikhs had to face another wave of persecution after the fall of Baba Banda Singh.

Anandpur Sahib becomes prosperous again

Within the next ten years most of the Sikh homeland was once again under the rule of Sikhs. With Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the other Sikh Misls and the Patiala dynasty, becoming the de facto rulers of Punjab, a period of peace and prosperity allowed the scattered Sikhs to begin making frequent visits to Anandpur Sahib. Anandpur Sahib became the safest place for Sikhs. Baba Baghel Singh of the Karorasinghia Misl, who had taken charge of Delhi and constructed many Sikh shrines in the city, visited Anandpur Sahib in the 1780s and decided to construct, repair and renovate the shrines of the city.

In 1812, Mahan Chand, the ruler of Bilaspur, attacked Anandpur Sahib only to suffer heavy losses.

One of five takhats

Shri Keshgarh Sahib is one of the Five Takhats or 'Seats of Authority' of the Sikhs. Keshgarh Sahib is the home of many historical relics (Pictures in Photo Gallery) which belonged to Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji. These include the actual Khanda (double edged sword) that the Guru used to prepare amrit on the revelation of Khalsa Day, a Kataar, Guru Gobind Singh's personal dagger (which he always carried), a saif (a double edged weapon presented to the Guru by Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah) and a beautiful gun that was presented to Guru Sahib by one of his sikhs from Lahore.

After 1820 regular Granthis began serving at Kesgarh Sahib. Historical sources mention the names of Bhai Karam Singh, Bhai Kharak Singh, Bhai Budh Singh, Bhai Puran Singh, Bhai Amar Singh etc as the Granthis of Kesgarh Sahib. For about a century (1820 to 1925) Kesgarh Sahib had only one Granthi, but after Gurdwara reform movement (1920-25) a "Jathedar" was appointed here too. This designation was given to Giani Resham Singh, Giani Partap Singh Mallewal, Jathedar Bir Singh, Master Ajit Singh Ambalvi, Giani Fauja Singh, Giani Bachitar Singh, Jathedar Gurdial Singh Ajnoha, Jathedar Harcharan Singh Mahalon, Bhai Shawinder Singh, Bhai Balbir Singh, Bahi Manjit Singh (Prof.).

Shastars of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and His Warriors