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Gurdwara Sri Bibi Bhani Da Khooh

Location - Tarn Taran, Punjab, India

Associated with - Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji, Bibi Bhani Ji

Sikh Artifacts - unknown

Sarovar - None

Sarai - unknown

Tarn Taran Sahib is the district headquarters and hosts the municipal council of Tarn Taran district. It is a city in the state of Punjab.

Tarn Taran Sahib was first founded by Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji (1563–1606).

During the 1980s and early 1990s Tarn Taran Sahib was suggested as the capital of Khalistan, the proposed Sikh independent nation. The main industry in this area is agriculture and agro-industry, with few other opportunities.

Tarn Taran district was formed in 2006. The declaration to this effect was made by Captain Amarinder Singh, Ex-Chief Minister of Punjab, during the celebrations marking the martyrdom day of Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji. With this, it became the 19th district of Punjab.

There are 5 Historic Sikh Gurdwaras in Tarn Taran Sahib.

Gurdwara Sri Bibi Bhani Da Khooh

Gurdwara Sri Bibi Bhani Da Khooh is situated about 500 meters from Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib Tarn Taran. Bibi Bhani was the daughter of Sri Guru Amar Das Ji, the wife of Sri Guru Ram Das JI, and the mother of Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji. Bibi Bhani would serve food, water, and medicine to the lepers, the needy and visiting Sikhs at this location.

Forward Bibi Bhani - has a unique place in the Sikh history.

In memory of his mother, Bibi Bhani, Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji had a khooh (well) built here. Local Sikhs preserved the place with the help of Dera Kar Sewa Tarn Taran, and constructed a Gurdwara.

Gurdwara Sri Guru Ka Khooh Sahib

Gurdwara Sri Guru Ka Khooh Sahib, situated in Tarn Taran city, is where a Khooh (well) was dug under the supervision of Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji. When Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib was being built, Guru Arjan used to come here to rest after finishing a day's work.

Gurdwara Sri Lakeer Sahib

In order to destroy the source of the Sikh's spiritual strength, Ahmad Shah Abdali ordered Jahan Khan to destroy Sri Harmandir Sahib. Following orders, in 1757, Jahan Khan proceeded to Amritsar with heavy artillery. The Sikh fortress of Ram Rauni was razed to the ground. Many Sikhs died trying to defend Sri Harmandir Sahib but unfortunately the gurdwara and its surrounding buildings were demolished and the sarovar was filled with dirt, dead animals and debris. Sri Harmandir Sahib was then closed to all Sikhs.

Forward Baba Deep Singh - is revered among Sikhs as one of the most hallowed martyrs in Sikhism and as a highly religious person.

Gurdwara Sri Lakeer Sahib is situated at the place where Baba Deep Singh Ji marked a line on the ground, before entering into war against the mughal empire in 1757 for their atrocities. Baba Deep Singh Ji asked only those who were willing to fight and die for Sikhi, and to stop the desecration of Sri Harmandir Sahib, to cross the line.

Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib Tarn Taran

The main religious center at Tarn Taran Sahib is Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib, founded by Sri Guru Arjan Sahib Ji in 1590. Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib Tarn Taran has the biggest and largest sarovar (holy tank) in the world. The foundation stone of the Darbar Sahib was laid by Baba Budha Ji (1506–1631). A leper asylum established by Guru Arjan (it was thought that minerals in the water of the sarovar were helpful in treating leprosy). Later, Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji, came to the gurdwara and stayed for some time. Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji also visited Tarn Taran Sahib and preached to the Sikh sangat.

Har Ki Pauri

A flight of marbled steps behind the Darbar Sahib descending into the sacred pool, marks the spot where, according to tradition, Guru Arjan made the first cut as the digging started in 1590. Sikhs go down these steps to take Charan amrit or palms full of holy water to sip.

The Sarovar

One of the largest of the Sikh sarovars (ponds), it is an approximate rectangle in shape. Its northern and southern sides are 289 and 283 metres (948 and 928 ft), respectively, and eastern and western sides 230 and 233 metres (755 and 764 ft), respectively. The sarovar was originally fed by rain water that flowed in from the surrounding lands.

In 1833, Maharaja Raghubir Singh of Jind had a water channel dug, connecting the sarovar with the Lower Kasur Branch of the Upper Ban Doab Canal at Rasulpur watermills, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) to the southeast. The channel was cemented and covered in 1927-28 by Bhai Gurmukh Singh and Bhai Sadhu Singh. They also supervised karseva, ie. complete desilting of the sarovar through voluntary service, in 1931. The operation was repeated in 1970 under Bhai Jivan Singh. Most of the bungas around the sarovar have now been demolished and a verandah constructed instead along the periphery.

The name Tarn Taran, since appropriated by the town itself, originally belonged to the sarovar, so called by Guru Arjan. Literally it means, "the boat that takes one across (the ocean of existence)". (Tarana in Sanskrit is a raft or a boat). According to Sikh tradition, the water of the old pond was found to possess medicinal properties, especially for curing leprosy. For this reason the sarovar was known also as Dukh Niwaran, the eradicator of afflictions.

Akal Bunga

A four storeyed building near the Nishan Sahib (Sikh flagpole), was constructed in 1841 by Maharaja Nau Nihal Singh. Maharaja Sher Singh provided the finishing touches. The Guru Granth Sahib, "after a procession around the sarovar amid" singing of hymns in the late evening, is, brought here for the night's rest.

The Tower

The only completed column of the four planned by Maharaja Nau Nihal Singh, for the beautification of the sarovar at Tarn Taran, stands at the north eastern corner. The three storey tower, 34 metres (112 ft) high, was erected during the Maharaja's lifetime. The dome on top of it was added later.

Darbar Sahib

Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib Tarn Taran is an elegant, three storey structure at the south eastern corner of the sarovar. Approached through a double-storeyed arched gateway, it stands in the middle of a marble-floored platform. The upper portion of the edifice is covered with glittering gold-plated sheets. The lotus dome, damaged in an earthquake (4th April 1905) and subsequently reconstructed, has an ornamental gold pinnacle with an umbrella-shaped gold finial.

Exquisitely executed stucco work in intricate designs, inset with reflecting glass pieces, decorate the interior walls and the ceiling. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated on a platform under an elongated dome covered with gold plated metal sheets. This throne was an offering from Maharaja Nau Nihal Singh. A relay recital of Kirtan goes on from early morning until late in the evening. It is famous for the monthly gathering of Sikhs on the day of Amavas (a no-moon night).

In 1768 Sardar Budh Singh Virk of Singhpuria Misl and Maharaja Jassa Singh Ramgarhia of Ramgarhia Misl joined hands to rebuild the Darbar Sahib Tarn Taran. Which then was in a shape of a traditional mud building.

During the Sikh Empire 1799-1849

Maharaja Ranjit Singh had the steps on the two sides of the sarovar, formerly left unfinished by the two Sardars of Singhpuria Misl and Ramgarhia Misl, completed and its circumambulatory passage paved. The darbar sahib was also reconstructed. Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his grandson, Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh, donated large quantities of gold to have the exterior gold plated as they did with Sri Harmandir Sahib at Amritsar. Artisans were called in by the Maharaja of Punjab to decorate the inside of Darbar Sahib Tarn Taran.

But the work made little progress in the troubled times that followed Ranjit Singh's death. It was in the last quarter of the nineteenth century that part of the exterior was covered with gold plates by Bhai Sham Singh, of Amritsar. Only one of the four towers planned by Kanvar Nau Nihal Singh for the four corners of the tank was erected during this time. Under Maharaja Ranjit Singh's orders, the town of Tarn Taran was enclosed by a wall. A few other Gurdwaras, such as Gurdwara Sri Manji Sahib, the Akal Bunga and Guru Ka Khooh, were developed and several bungas added.

Sher-e-Punjab built 17 massive gate entrances in Tarn Taran in which elephants could easily go through. When Maharaja Nau Nihal Singh, the grandson of Sher-e-Punjab, came to Tarn Taran, he built a minara (tower) at the end of the sarovar. Only one was completed, which can be seen while walking to Darbar Sahib. Three others were planned on each end of the sarovar, but were not constructed due to the death of Maharaja Nau Nihal Singh and also because of the two Anglo-Sikh Wars (1845–1849) against the British.

Tarn Taran and the British Raj

After the annexation of the Punjab to the British dominions, the management of the Gurdwaras at Tarn Taran, along with those at Amritsar, was entrusted to a sarbarah, or manager, appointed by the deputy commissioner of Amritsar. The role of the manager was, however, confined to general supervision, the priests being autonomous in the conduct of religious affairs. They divided the offerings among themselves and gradually appropriated most of the lands endowed to the Darbar Sahib during Sikh rule. They neglected their religious duties and cared little for the sanctity of the holy Gurdwaras and the sarovar.

The traditional monthly congregation on every amavasya day, the last day of the dark half of the month, was reduced to a small carnival. Reforms introduced by the Singh Sabha, Tarn Taran, established in 1885, were disapproved and resisted by the clergy. Efforts of the Khalsa Diwan Majha and the Central Majha Khalsa Diwan to cleanse the administration met with only partial success.

In 1877, Bhai Harsa Singh, a Granthi of Darbar Sahib, Tarn Taran, was the first teacher, of the Singh Sabha movement, which came into existence in 1873, to protect the Sikhs of Punjab, against the Arya Samaj, Christian Missionaries, who were at that time trying their best to convert the Sikhs but found it hard to make their way into the Sikh population. In 1883, Raja Raghubir Singh (1832-1887), the Sikh Chieftain of Jind Princely State, had a channel dug, from the sarovar, to bring in new water, to keep the tank beautified. The channel was latter paved by Bhai Gurmukh Singh (1849-1947), of Patiala from 1927-28. During 1923-28, the Sarovar at Tarn Taran was desilted and lined.

Gurdwara Reform Movement

During the British Rule (1849–1947), Arur Singh Shergill (1865–1926) was made the manager of Tarn Taran Sahib Gurdwara from 1907-1920, by the British, to keep the Sikh Gurdwara out of direct Sikh Control. In 1905 an earthquake damaged the Lotus Dome of Darbar Sahib Tarn Taran, but soon after it was rebuilt. The Sikhs of Punjab fought and sacrificed to gain independence from the British rulers.

Before 1921 greedy (British) Sikh puppets divided the income of the Gurdwara among themselves. It was in 1921 that the Sikhs decided to free Tarn Taran Sahib. Seventeen Sikhs got injured at Tarn Taran. Two Sikhs attained martyrdom - Shaheed Bhai Hazara Singh of Village Aladinpur District Amritsar and Shaheed Bhai Hukam Singh of Village Wasoo Kot District Gurdaspur. They were the first martyrs of the Gurdwara reform movement. On arrival of more Sikhs on 26th January, the fake Sikh puppets handed over the management of the Gurdwara to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, on 27 January 1921. This martyrdom was known as Saka Tarn Taran.

After The British

Since the partition of 1947, more work (kar sewa) has been done on Darbar Sahib Tarn Taran. Some uneducated Sikhs have been responsible for destroying Sikh heritage and replacing it with concrete and marble. First in 1970, when the Old Bungas, Towers of Sikh chieftains, were demolished to construct a big complex. In all four corners of Darbar Sahib, the sarovar was cleaned by Sikhs. In the early 1980s, a big hall was built to replace many old Sikh period buildings. In 2005 the whole of Darbar Sahib was renovated. It was plated in new gold, and inside the Darbar Sahib new work was done. New marble was inlaid; a big complex was built; and more buildings were added around the complex. This Karsewa was done by Bhai Jagtar Singh Ji Karsewa Tarn Taran Wale.

Gurdwara Sri Manji Sahib Tarn Taran

Manji Sahib, a small domed Gurdwara in the eastern part of the circumambulatory pavement within the Gurdwara Sri Darbar Sahib complex, marks the spot from where Guru Arjan supervised the excavation of the sarovar. A diwan hall, a vast pavilion of reinforced concrete, has now been raised close to it.

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