Anandpur Sahib Sikh Pilgrimage Guide - Holiday Travel

Anandpur Sahib Sikh Pilgrimage Guide


Anandpur Sahib Sikh Pilgrimage Guide
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About Anandpur Sahib

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-Una Himachal rail route and the Ambala-Una Himachal road, it is 45 km from Ropar and 35 km from Una Himachal.

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.

Forts of Anandpur sahib ( Main Historical Attractions of Anandpur sahib)
The forts constructed by Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur sahib are:

Fort Keshgarh
Keshgarh - Keshgarh is the name given to the main fort that the tenth Guru Guru Gobind Singh ji constructed in Anandpur sahib in
1699. The fort is now the Takhat called Keshgarh Sahib. This Gurdwara was one of the five (sometimes quoted as six) forts
constructed by Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib for the defence of the Sikhs and the community. All the forts were joined
together with earthworks and underground tunnels. Sometimes this shrine is not regarded as a fort and the construction is different
from the other "proper" five forts.
The construction began in 1689 and took over ten years to complete. Guru Gobind Singh used to hold congregations on this hill. His
revelation of the Khalsa and its first initiation (Khande Di Pahul) took place here in 1699. At that time the hill of Keshgarh Sahib was at
least 10-15 feat higher than it is today. It was a very strong fort and before reaching the gates of this fort the armies had to capture the
fort at Taragarh, Agamgarh, Fatehgarh and Anandgarh. This fort was never taken in the history of Anandpur Sahib, until Guru
Gobind Singh ji's decision to leave the city.
Qila Lohgarh Sahib
2. Lohgarh (fort of steel) - Lohgarh was the second strongest Qila after Qila Anandgarh sahib as it was on southern side of city Guru
Sahib had set up a factory for manufacturing of arms. The hill armies attacked city Anandpur sahib many times but hesitated to attack
the Qila because of their fear that its gate could not be broken.
It is situated at one and a half kilometre southwest of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, marks the site of the fort of that name constructed by
Guru Gobind Singh to protect the riverside flank of Anandpur. It was here that Bhai Bachchittar Singh faced and turned back a
drunken elephant which the hill chiefs, during their siege of Anandpur in 1700, had sent to batter down the gate of this fort. It was in
this fort that the arms and ammunition were manufactured.
Qila Holgarh sahib
Agamgarh or Holgarh (fort of colour) - Agamgarh or Holgarh was the qila where Guru Gobind Singh introduced in the spring of
1701, the celebration of Hola Mahala on the day following the Hindu festival of colour, Holi. Unlike the playful sprinkling of coloured
powders or spraying of colored water during Holi, the Guru made Hola Mahalu an occasion for Sikhs to demonstrate their skills at
arms in simulated battles. The fort is about one and a half km north-west of the town across the Charan Gariga rivulet. It was the third
strongest fort built by Guru Gobind Singh ji.
Qila Anandgarh sahib
Anandgarh (fort of bliss) - Anandgarh is one from five Kilas Built By Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji for the protection of sikhs from Hill
rulers. In Gurudwara Sahib also there is Sacred Baoli Sahib. It is situated in the middle of Shri Anandpur Sahib on another spur,
about 800 metres southeast of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib.
Qila Fatehgarh sahib
Fatehgarh (fort of victory) - Fatehgarh was built By Shri Guru Gobind Singh to defend the Anandpur Sahib city in the territory of
sahota village. When this Qila was built Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji was born, hence it was named in his honor as Qila Fatehgarh
Sahib. It is situated on the northern outskirts of the town of Anandpur, marks the site of another fortress bearing this name. This Fort
reminds long long struggle between the mughals and great defender of 'Anandpuri'.

Qila Taragarh sahib
Qila Taragarh - 'Taragarh is situated on the outskirts of Shri Anandpur Sahib. Five km from Shri Anandpur sahib it was built to stop
the hill armies in advance. It was built on top of hill from where one can see activities of kehlur for a long distance.

Famous battles of AnandPur Sahib :-
Siege of Anandpur and the Battle of Chamkaur
(May 1705 - DECEMBER 1705)
Hindu Rajas led by Ajmer Chand of Kahlir and his father Bhim Chand personally went to Aurangzeb and stirred up the wrath of the
Emperor by telling him that Guru Gobind Singh claimed to be Sacha Patshah: True King, sat on a raised platform; a prerogative of
the Emperor only, and was corrupting both Hinduism and Islam.
Aurangzeb ordered a large army under Amir Khan of Sarhand and Zabardast Khan of Lahore to proceed against the Guru. All the
Chiefs except the Raja of Nahan joined the Imperial forces.
Guru Gobind Singh divided the army into five commands, each of which was posted in a fort. His eighteen years old son Ajit Singh,
was stationed in the Kesgarh fort with five hundred soldiers under him. Sher Singh and Nahar Singh commanded the Lohgarh fort.
Udai Singh and Alam Singh commanded the division of Agampura, while Mohkam Singh was posted with 400 men in Holgarh. Daya
Singh commanded the northern ramparts, while the Guru remained in the Anandpur fort.
Seeing the Imperial armies approaching in countless numbers, Guru Gobind Singh ordered his artillery men to light their fuses : and
discharge their cannons. The battle raged with fearful violence. Daya Singh and Udai Singh came out of their forts and gave a terrific
fight to the Imperial army who lost about nine hundred soldiers.
Unable to fight the Sikh armies in the open, the Imperialists laid a siege to the city and stopped all ingress and egress. The Sikhs
planned night attacks. They sallied forth from their defensive positions and attacked the enemy unawares. The Mughal Generals tried
to storm the citadel in utter distress and desperation, but the Sikhs brought forth their bigger guns, named Baghan: Tigress and Bjai
Gosh: Roaring Victory, and fired at the enemy, killing many in the enemy ranks. As the supplies were constantly failing, the Sikhs
resorted to desultory sallies to seize the supplies from the enemy. The siege lasted for about seven months Jeth 1762 Bk/May 1705
to Rh Sudi 1, 1762 Bk/December 5-6, 1705 when the Gurus army lived on starvation level.
But Guru Gobi�d Singh refused to surrender. Some Sikhs of Majha found life in the fort extremely miserable. They could not endure
the hardships. When they made up their mind to desert the Guru, they were asked to sign a disclaimer, which they did and left the
At last a messenger arrived with an oath signed by Aurangzeb on a copy of the Koran, assuring the Guru that if he came out of the
fort, permanent peace would be negotiated on honourable terms. The oath of the Emperor was further supported by signed oath by
all the Generals of the Mughal army and the Hill Chiefs. Guru Gobind Singh did not trust these assurances, but his mother and the
disciples counselled him to accept such solemn oaths and meet the Emperor.
On the night of December 5-6, 1705 A.D. Guru Gobind Singh came out of the fort.The enemy had retreated beyond Kiratpur. As
soon as Guru Gobind Singh reached Nirmoh, the Imperialists fell on them. Udai Singh and Ajit Singh fought from the rear. Udai Singh
was killed. Guru Gobind Singh took the defensive position in a small barn, surrounded by a mud wall at Chamkaur. The story of the
heroic fight of forty half-starved Sikhs and Guru Gobind Singh's two sons Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh is told by the Guru himself in his
letter to Aurangzeb:
If I had not believed in the false oaths taken on the Koran by you, writes Guru Gobind Singh, I would not have crippled my army
which is dearer to me than my very life. What could forty Sikhs do against the treacherous attacks of lakhs of hilly equipped soldiers of
your army....? These forty dear ones had not taken a morsel of food for days and yet they fought until death to the last man. Your
Commanders, who had taken the oath, attacked us from the back without a moments notice with arrows, bullets and swords.
In this desperate situation I was left with no other alternative except to I jump into the battle and face the onslaught. In that critical
situation I too was compelled to take up the sword and fight. When all other A possible remedies failed, it was but lawful to resort to the
sword. Tell me what else could I do in the face of such a situation? You left me no other alternative except to take up the sword.... Like
a swarm of flies the clamorous hordes of your blackstoled armies attacked us from all sides. Whosoever came near the wall received
but one arrow from my bow and fell dead, weltering in a pool of blood.
Those who did not attack us received no injury from our hands. When I saw Nahar Khan coming forward to fight, I gave him a taste
of my arrows and he fell dead. The Pathans who boasted of their prowess ran for their lives and all the supporters of Nahar Khan
retreated in terror.
Then another Afghan commander advanced like a sweeping tide. With the swiftness of an arrow and the suddenness of a bullet he
attacked. He made assault after assault, A some wisely and some with desperate madness. He conducted many stormy attacks,
received many wounds and after killing two Sikhs was himself killed. But the unscrupulous rascal Khwaja mardud remained hidden
behind the wall like a coward. A pity I did not chance to see his face. With one arrow I would have given him a taste of death. In a
short time the exchange of bullets and arrows killed a number of people. The bullets rained in a heavy shower, and the whole
battlefield was deluged and made red with the blood of the heroes.
In the terrorizing twang of the shooting arrows even he I the bravest seemed for a moment unnerved. Even the boldest lost his
presence of mind. What could mere moral courage do when forty half-starved Sikhs were fighting against countless hordes. The lamp
of the earth (the sun) drew down its veil and hid itself. The queen of the night (the moon) rose gracefully in all splendour. He who
trusted your oath on the Koran taken with God as witness, was graciously protected by the same God. Not a hair of my body was
touched. No injury whatever came to my body. God protected me even when I left the hillock in the thick of the night fighting my way
Both the sons of the Guru, Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh died fighting. When only five Sikhs were left with him, three of them Daya
Singh,Dharam Singh and Man Singh accompanied Guru Gobind Singh in his bid to cut through the enemy lines to a place of safety.
Sangat Singh and Sant Singh were left in the fort.
Tired and fatigued by the ordeals and hardships of the battle, Guru Gobind Singh reached Machiwara forest where he rested under
a tree. His companions were separated from him. Unnerved by the tragic losses, this prophet of freedom and love burst into the
following song:
Go, tell the Beloved Lord The condition of His yearning devotee. Without Thee, rich coverings are an agony to us; And to live in the
comforts of our households Is like living with snakes! Our pitchers have became like pikes, On which men are impaled, The Cup we
drink from has an edge like a dagger; O Beloved, Thy turning away from us Is like the knife of the butcher. With the Beloved in heart,
a mattress of straw would please us. Without Him, in rich house, we are burned alive.
Dasam Granth, Guru Gobind Singh , Khayal, pp. 710-11.
Guru Gobind Singh was surrounded by Mughal armies who were searching him all over the forest. At this difficult moment he took
shelter with two Muslim friends Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan who disguised him as Muslim Faqir and carried him reverently in a palki
(palanquin) to safety.
He was fighting the Mughals, but he had profound faith in Muslims who were God-fearing. The Hindu Rajas had been responsible
for nearly all his miseries, but he maintained a deep respect for Hinduism and its ancient cultural tradition. The Guru believed that the
ultimate unity between various religions and ideological cultures depends on never losing faith in the essential truth of all and never
condemning a faith, philosophy or culture for the folly of a few prominent political or religious representatives of that faith.
Let a thousand bigoted Mughals fight him and destroy his home and hearth, when he meets a true Muslim he will trust him and
embrace him as his brother. The heart in which the true light of Islam shines can never ha ve any bitterness and differences against
him. This was his unshakable faith. Such Muslims stood with him in his battle against cruelty and despotism. Let a hundred Hindu
Rajas treacherously betray him and fight against him, he would continue to admire the great heroes of Hindu history like Krishna,
Rama, Valmiki, Dattatreya. His faith in the profound achievements of Hinduism was not shaken. There is perhaps no other example in
history of a Saviour with such a philosophical outlook and invincible spirit that iefused to be embittered against any creed or culture
because of the collective folly of its political or religious representatives.


"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.

How to Reach Anandpur Sahib
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.
Places to visit in Anandpur Sahib
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.
Holy Articles/Relics of Guru Gobind Singh ji at Anandpur Sahib
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.

Khanda of Guru Gobind Singh-ji a double-edged sword believed to be the sword with which Guru Gobind Singh prepared amrit on the day of revelation of
Kataar  of Guru Gobind Singh ji- 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 of Guru Gobind Singh ji 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 of Guru Gobind Singh ji - 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 of Guru Gobind Singh ji - 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 Anandpur Sahib 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.
Free Langar at Anandpur Sahib Ji
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.
Over the centuries, the Sikh gurus founded a number of towns and turned several villages into major towns. The first town founded
by Guru Nanak was Kartarpur in present-day Pakistan. It is generally believed that Anandpur Sahib was built upon the town of
Chakk Nanaki founded by Guru Tegh Bahadur on June 19, 1665.
When Raja Deep Chand, the ruler of Bilaspur died in April 1665, Guru Tegh Bahadur went to Bilaspur to pray. While he was there,
the dowager Rani Champa (the queen of Bilaspur) heard that the Guru had decided to shift his headquarters to Dhamtan about 200
km away. She approached the Guru's mother Mata Nanaki, and begged her to ask the Guru not to move away from Bilaspur. On his
mother's request, Guru Tegh Bahadur agreed to stay back. He refused the Rani's offer of land and instead purchased some land
around the ruins of the village of Makhowal. It was a peaceful area for meditation, art and intellectual activity, and safe from military
attack. Bhai Guruditta laid the foundation stone of this new town in June 1665 at the present site of the gurdwara Guru De Mahal.
Guru Tegh Bahadur named the new town Chakk Nanaki after his mother. Chakk Nanaki had the protection of the Charn Ganga
stream on two sides and river Sutlej on the third.
After setting up Chakk Nanaki, Guru Tegh Bahadur was unable to visit it for the next six years. In March 1672 he moved back to
Chakk Nanaki and finally established it as the Sikh religious headquarters. After Guru Tegh Bahadur achieved martyrdom on
November 11, 1675 his son, Guru Gobind Singh came to Chakk Nanaki. On March 30, 1689 he laid the foundation of a new town
and named it Anandpur Sahib. Today Chakk Nanaki, the old town of Anandpur Sahib and the adjoining villages of Sahota, Lodhipur,
Agampur, Mataur and others, form the new town of Anandpur Sahib.
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