Chamkaur Sahib is a town located in the Ropar district of Punjab. It is famous for the First and Second Battle of Chamkaur fought between Sikhs and the treacherous mughals.
Situated on the banks of the Sirhind Canal, Chamkaur Sahib is at a distance of 15 km from Morinda and 16 km from Ropar.
There are 7 Historic Sikh Gurdwaras in Chamkaur Sahib.
Gurdwara Sri Ranjitgarh Sahib is situated 200 yards to the east of Chamkaur Sahib. This Gurdwara is located at the site where Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the Khalsa defeated a much larger mughal force. The Gurdwara relates to the First Sikh Battle of Chamkaur in January 1703.
As Guru Gobind Singh was returning from Kurukshetra to Anandpur Sahib early in 1703, it so happened that two imperial generals, Sayyid Beg and Alif Khan, were also moving with a body of troops towards Lahore.
Raja Ajmer Chand of Kahlur, who bore hostility towards Guru Gobind Singh, persuaded these generals by promises of money to attack him. A battle occurred on the site of the present Gurdwara Sri Ranjitgarh Sahib.
The Sikhs, though surprised by a superior force, fought tenaciously. Sayyid Beg, when he came face to face with Guru Gobind Singh, was so affected by a sight of him that he immediately changed sides. Alif Khan, chagrined by his colleague's behaviour, attacked with redoubled vigour, but was defeated.
This battle happened on 16 Magh 1759 Bikrami/ 15th January 1703. Gurdwara Sri Ranjitgarh Sahib was built only recently to mark the scene of the historic ranjit (victory). This Gurdwara is therefore known as Ranjitgarh Sahib.
After the mughals had sworn oaths on the koran and the hindus had sworn oaths on their scriptures, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji evacuated Anandpur Sahib. However, both the muslims and hindus betrayed their religions and the Khalsa and attacked the Sikhs with a huge combined army comprising of the full weight of the mughal empire. What can one say about people who betray others including their own religions? Time has shown that muslims and hindus are child killers that have carried out several Sikh Genocides.
Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, his two elder sons and 40 Sikhs had come to the site of Gurdwara Sri Damdama Sahib Chamkaur from Kotla Nihang Khan with mughal pursuers close on their heels. At the time the site was an orchard belonging to Rai Jagat Singh, the local landlord. The Guru sent some of his Sikhs to ask Rai Jagat Singh to allow them take shelter in his haveli. Jagat Singh, for fear of the mughals wrath, refused, but his younger brother, Rup Chand, asserting his right as a co-owner of the house, allowed Guru Gobind Singh to enter. According to some chronicles, the names of the owners of the property were Budhi Chand and Gharibu.
A small gurdwara was first constructed here around 1930 by Sardar Bahadur Dharam Singh (1881-1933), a well known philanthropist of Delhi. The present building was raised in 1963 by Bhai Piara Singh of Jhar Sahib. It duplicates the design of the central building of the older Gurdwara Sri Katalgarh Sahib with a square sanctum on the ground floor within a square hall, and a domed room above the sanctum with decorative cupolas at the corners. The Gurdwara is managed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee through a local committee, with offices located at Gurdwara Sri Katalgarh Sahib.
Gurdwara Sri Garhi Sahib Chamkaur marks the site of the mud fortress, double storeyed house, with a high compound wall around it and only one entrance from the north, which was used by Guru Gobind Singh as a temporary refuge in the unequal battle against the mughal empire in December 1704. On occupying the Garhi, Guru Sahib assigned 8 Sikhs each on the four sides to keep guard, while another two, Madan Singh and Kotha Singh, were posted at the entrance.
Guru Gobind Singh, with his sons Baba Ajit Singh and Baba Jujhar Singh and other Sikhs, took up position on the first floor of the house in the centre. The imperial army, now inflated with reinforcements from Ropar, Sirhind and Malerkotla, arrived and surrounded the Garhi. The battle raged throughout the day. Successive efforts of the besiegers to storm the Garhi were thwarted. As the ammunition and arrows in the fortress ran out, the Sikhs started came out in small batches to engage the enemy in hand to hand fighting.
Two such successive sallies were led by the Sahibzadas, Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh, who like the other Sikhs fell fighting heroically. Why did Guru Gobind Singh allow his sons to die? because all Khalsa Sikhs (to this day) are Guru Gobind Singh's sons and Guru Sahib did not allow for any criticism that would have allowed his own blood to have been saved over other valiant Sikhs. Ultimately, death is only a gateway for a Sikh, physical death means nothing. A Sikhs conduct and morals is most important.
The valour displayed by the young sons of Guru Gobind Singh has been poignantly narrated by a modern muslim poet Allahyar Khan Jogi who used to recite his urdu poem entitled 'Shaheedani Wafa' from Sikh pulpits during the second and third decades of the 20th century. By nightfall Guru Gobind Singh was left with only five Sikhs in the fortress. These five urged him to escape so that he could rally the Khalsa and continue the struggle against muslim oppression.
Guru Gobind Singh agreed and gave his clothes to Sangat Singh who resembled him somewhat in features and physical stature, and, under the cover of darkness, made his way through the encircling host slackened by the fatigue of the day's battle. Daya Singh, Dharam Singh and Man Singh also escaped leaving behind only two Sikhs, Sangat Singh and Sant Singh. Next morning as the attack was resumed, the imperial troops entered the Garhi and were surprised to find only two occupants who, determined to die rather than give in, gave battle till the last.
Upon the fall of Sirhind to the Khalsa in 1764 when this part of the country came under Sikh domination, the fortress at Chamkaur came to be preserved as a sacred monument. Maharaja Karam Singh of Patiala had a Gurdwara constructed here. It was called Garhi Sahib; also, Tilak Asthan (Anointment Site) in the belief that Guru Gobind Singh's act of obeying the five Sikhs with regard to his escape and giving his dress, dastar and kalgi to Bhai Sangat Singh were symbolic of anointing the Khalsa as his successor to Guruship.
The old Gurdwara building has since been demolished and replaced by a four storeyed marble structure. The sanctum is on the ground floor in the centre of a large divan hall. The building is topped by a lotus dome covered with chips of glazed tiles. There are decorative domed pavilions over the corners and walls of the main hall.
Gurdwara Sri Katalgarh Sahib lies west of Gurdwara Sri Garhi Sahib and is the main Gurdwara at Chamkaur Sahib. This Gurdwara marks the site where the thickest hand to hand fighting took place in December 1704 between the mughal army and the Sikhs, including the Sahibzadas and three of the original five Panj Pyare (the Five Beloved).
During the battle of Chamkaur in 1704 in which the Guru and 40 Sikhs fought against overwhelming odds, both of Guru Gobind Singh's eldest sons, Sahibzada Baba Ajit Singh and Sahibzada Baba Jujhar Singh, re-joined with God after battle at this spot. When the Sikhs in the fort at Chamkaur were being martyred one by one, the Sikhs did not want the Guru's two sons to go into battle. Guru Gobind Singh declared that all the Sikhs in the fort were his beloved sons.
During the battle 18 year old Baba Ajit Singh asked his father's permission to go out of the fort and fight the enemy. He said, "Dear father, my name is Ajit (Unconquerable). I will not be conquered. And if conquered, I will not flee or come back alive. Permit me to go and fight like all your sons." Guru Gobind Singh hugged and kissed his beloved son before sending him into battle where he fought heroically until his last breath. Paintings inside Gurdwara Katalgarh Sahib showing Sahibzada Jujhar Singh in battle. "Purja purja cut maarhu, kaboo na chhodu khaat".
Sahibzada Baba Jujhar Singh, four years younger than Sahibzada Baba Ajit Singh, having watched his brother's martyrdom, asked Guru Gobind Singh, "Permit me, dear father to go where my brother has gone. Don't say that I am too young. I am your son, I am a Singh (Lion) of yours. I shall prove worthy of you. I shall die fighting, with my face towards the enemy, with God and the Guru on my lips and in my heart." Guru Gobind Singh embraced him and said, "Go my son and wed life-giving death. We have been here for a while. Now we shall return to our real home. Go and wait for me there. Your grandfather and elder brother are already waiting for you." Thus the Guru watched his two sons achieve eternal peace through martyrdom.
Guru Gobind Singh prepared to follow his sons and attack the muslims but the remaining 5 Sikhs passed a Gurmatta (resolution) that the Guru and the two remaining panj pyares should escape under cover of darkness while the remaining Sikhs, facing certain death, would hold the fort and delay the muslim attackers. Having divested himself of authority the Guru had to yield to the will of his Sikhs.
The original Gurdwara constructed here, by Sardar Hardial Singh of Bela in 1831, was replaced during the 1960's by a new complex raised under the supervision of Bhai Piara Singh of Jhar Sahib and later of Bhai Bishan Singh of Amritsar. The main building called Manji Sahib is an elegant three storeyed domed structure standing upon a high base. The large divan hall contains an eight metre square sanctum. Another vast hall close by is called Akal Bunga. It was used for the daily congregations before Manji Sahib was constructed.
To the west of Akal Bunga is an old Baoli Sahib still in use. The Guru ka Langar, community kitchen, is further north from Baoli Sahib and Akal Bunga. The Gurdwara also houses the offices of the local managing committee which administers all of the Historic Sikh Gurdwaras at Chamkaur under the overall control of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. In addition to the daily services, largely attended assemblies take place on the first of each Bikrami month and on important anniversaries on Sikh calendar. A three day fair called Shaheedi Jor Mela is held on 6, 7 and 8 Poh, usually corresponding with 20th, 21st and 22nd December, commemorating the martyrs of Chamkaur.
Gurdwara Sri Shaheed Burj Sahib is located next to Gurdwara Sri Garhi Sahib and represents the site of the gate of the mud fortress used by Guru Gobind Singh as the bulwark of his defence. The gate was guarded by Bhai Madan Singh and Bhai Kotha Singh. The small Gurdwara is of old Sirhindi bricks to which a small hall was been added and where an old well was discovered.
The original Gurdwara in which the Guru Granth Sahib is seated was built by Mazhabi Sikhs, the community to which Bhai Jiwan Singh originally belonged. Gurdwara Sri Shaheed Burj Sahib is sometimes known as Gurdwara Shaheed Burj Bhai Jiwan Singh. Jiwan Singh was the same Bhai Jaita who had brought Guru Tegh Bahadur's head after his execution from Delhi to Kiratpur in 1675, and earned from Guru Gobind Singh the endearing title of 'Ranghrete Guru ke Bete'. Upon his initiation into the order of the Khalsa in 1699, he had received the name of Jiwan Singh. According to the Bhatt Vahis, he was killed in a rearguard action on the bank of the Sirsa.
This Gurdwara is situated on a low mound about two furlongs west of Gurdwara Sri Katalgarh Sahib. When Guru Gobind Singh decided to leave the Garhi at Chamkaur, three Sikhs, Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh and Bhai Maan Singh, came out with him. They each proceeded in a different direction, agreeing to meet later at a common spot guided by the position of certain stars.
Since Guru Sahib did not wish to leave unannounced, Guru Gobind Singh, upon reaching the mound where Gurdwara Sri Taari Sahib (Taari lit. means a clap) now stands, blew his horn and clapped his hands three times saying "Peer-e-hind rwad" (the Saint of Punjab is leaving). From their different locations the three Sikhs each raised shouts. This baffled the besiegers, Guru Gobind Singh and the Sikhs were soon out of harm's way. The Gurdwara on the mound marks the site from where Guru Gobind Singh had proclaimed his departure by his hand clapping.
From Chamkaur, Guru Gobind Singh travelled to the locations of where Gurdwara Sri Bir Guru Jand Sahib, Gurdwara Sri Imli Sahib Kirhi Afghana, Gurdwara Sri Kalgidhar Sahib, Gurdwara Sri Jhar Sahib and Gurdwara Sri Kanga Sahib are, before arriving in Machhiwara (which was then a small village surrounded by a jungle).
Sikh women are always known to have responded to the call of their duty. They have not allowed hardships and dangers to stand in the way of the performance of their moral obligations. Bibi Harsharn Kaur was one of these women who faced the odds to fulfil her obligations. Guru Gobind Singh's two elder sons together with many other Sikhs, were martyred while fighting the foes at the battle of Chamkaur Sahib. Under pressure of supplications of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh was obliged to leave the place under cover of darkness. The enemy too, taking advantage of the lull and darkness, rested in the surrounding area where they had besieged the Sikhs.
After leaving Chamkaur Sahib, Guru Ji reached the village where Bibi Harsharn Kaur lived. When he met her, she at once recognised the Guru. She bowed to Guru Ji and asked about the Sahibzade. She had been a nursing sister to them. Guru Ji told her about their martydom. She hurried to Chamkaur Sahib to the battle scene and recognised the martyred Sikhs. She collected all the wood she could and piled them high.
Bibi Harsharn Kaur placed the bodies of the Sahibzade and the Sikhs on the pile and set it afire. The big conflagration woke the enemy with consternation. All their expectations of getting prizes and honours were dashed to the ground. Now there was nothing left to show their identities of their victims. Gurdwara Sri Amargarh Sahib remembers Bibi Harsharn Kaur's sacrifice at Chamkaur Sahib.
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