Ambala is a city and a municipal corporation in the State of Haryana.
The name of Ambala orginated from Amb (mango) groves which existed in its immediate neighborhood.
Ambala was given the status of a district in 1847, formed by the merging of the jagir estates of hitherto independent chieftains whose territories had lapsed or had been confiscated by the British Indian Government.
There are 5 Historic Sikh Gurdwaras in Ambala City.
Gurdwara Sri Manji Sahib Ambala was constructed at the place where the Sri Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji stayed during his visit to Ambala city. The grand Gurdwara building is located on the GT Road (Sher Shah Suri Marg). The Sikhs visit this Gurdwara and have a dip in the sarovar nearby.
Guru Hargobind is said to have stayed here while on his way to meet Emperor Jahangir. The villagers of the nearby Khurampur Majri complained of perennial scarcity of drinking water. The Guru encouraged them a dig a baoli and instructed some Sikhs who lived here to assist the villagers in digging and lining the baoli. The Guru was pleased to see the work completed on his return from Delhi.
The Sikhs established a memorial platform, Manji Sahib, at the place where the Guru had stayed near the baoli. But the baoli again got partly filled up and fell into disuse. After the conquest of Sirhind in 1764, when the Dal Khalsa distributed territories among various misls, Ambala was occupied by Sardar Mehar Singh of Nishananwali Misl. Sardar Mehar Singh had the baoli cleared and cleaned and established a Gurdwara at the site of the Manji Sahib.
This is the present Gurdwara Manji Sahib, the premier Gurdwara of Ambala. Maharaja Hira Singh of Nabha (1871-1911) rebuilt it in the beginning of the 20th century. Further development took place after 1947. The Gurdwara is close to the first bus stop of the city when approached from Punjab by the Grand Trunk Road. The old baoli is still there and therefore the Gurdwara is also called Baoli Sahib and Sikhs still take Amrit from the Baoli.
In 1675 AD, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji was beheaded on the orders of the mughal emperor Aurangzeb, a terrorist muslim, for refusing to convert to Islam. Before his body could be quartered and exposed to public view, it was stolen under the cover of darkness by one of his Sikhs, Lakhi Shah Vanjara, who then burnt his house to cremate the Guru's body.
The Sis (severed head) of Guru Tegh Bahadur was brought to Anandpur Sahib by Bhai Jaita, another Sikh of the Guru. Bhai Jaita was traveling incognito, with the Guru's severed head placed in a basket and carried on his head. Before going to Anandpur, Bhai Jaita arrived at the location of Gurdwara Sri Sat Sang Sahib and asked for any Sikh homes nearby.
Bhai Jaita's plan was to rest for the night and then continue onwards. One Mehar Dhumian directed Bhai Jaita to a house where he spent the night. This is where Gurdwara Sri Sis Ganj Sahib Ambala, in Mohalla Kainth Majri, now stands. After resting for the night, Bhai Jaita continued on his journey towards Anandpur.
When Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji passed through Ambala on his way to Kurukshetra in 1702, he alighted under a tree near the potter's huts. Mehar Dhumian, now an old man, told him about the stranger with basket who had stayed under the same tree 27 years earlier. When Guru Gobind Singh related to him the story of his father's martyrdom and of the courageous Sikh who had conveyed the former Guru's severed head to Anandpur, Mehar Dhumian bowed to him in awe and wonder. The story spread and many people assembled to see Guru Gobind Singh, who held a congregation (satsang) there. The Guru is also said to have visited the house where Bhai Jaita had stayed overnight. Both places became holy for the Sikhs who established tharas (platforms) at them where they occasionally assembled for prayers.
Gurdwara Sri Sat Sang Sahib remained in private hands till 1934 when a local committee was formed to manage it. A new building was raised during 1935. Further development has taken place since. A large hall now encloses the old double-storey domed structure. To acquire Gurdwara Sri Sis Ganj Sahib Ambala the Sikhs had to fight a court case, which going in their favour, the newly formed Shriomani Gurdwara Committee took it over in 1926. All five Gurdwaras in Ambala are now administered by the SGPC through a local committee, which has its office at Gurdwara Sri Manji Sahib Ambala (Baoli Sahib).
Gurdwara Sri Badshahi Bagh Sahib, near district courts Ambala city, commemorates the visit of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji who stayed here while coming from Lakhnaur, where he had gone to meet his maternal grandparents. He stayed in the garden, under a cluster of trees. A sarovar has also been built near the Gurdwara Sri Badshahi Bagh Sahib.
Guru Gobind Singh Ji, visited this place around 1670, with his Mama ji, Bhai Kirpal Chand and other Sikhs, during one of his excursions to Lakhnaur. While on a hunting trip one day on his horse, he came to a big garden just outside the city of Ambala. Then only a small child of eight years, he had with him his white hawk as well. The garden belonged to Pir Amir Din, the custodian of the muslim shrines of the city, he happened to be present in the garden at the same time. Pir Amir Din had with him a black hawk. On seeing Guru Ji's white hawk, the Pir took a liking to it and began thinking of how to take it himself.
The pir suggested a challenge to the Guru for a fight between the two hawks. But, Guru Ji realizing the real intention of the Pir, refused and said that instead of the hawk, he would make sparrows fight the Pir's hawk. The Pir laughed and said that sparrows were food for his hawk, but Guru Ji repeated his words. With this, Guru Ji called upon two sparrows that were sitting on a tree to fight with the hawk. The sparrows fought so ferociously that the hawk was injured badly. It finally fell to its death about a kilometer away, near Labbu ka Talaab, the site of Gurdwara Gobindpura.
The Pir realized his folly and built a platform in honor of the Guru. It is here that Guru Gobind Singh uttered his famous words:
Chirion se main baaz larraun, Tabe Gobind Singh naam kahaun.
It is when I make sparrows fight hawks that I am called Gobind Singh
Every year a big festival is held here on the Vaisakhi, regarded as the birthday of Khalsa Panth. Keeping in view the historical importance of three holy Gurdwaras nearby, Haryana Tourism has set up a new tourist complex 'Kingfisher; at a strategic site on the main highway. This complex has 10 air conditioned rooms, a restaurant, a swimming pool and all other ancillary recreational facilities. The tourists on their way to Simla, Chandigarh and Bhakra Nangal by road, enjoy the facilities provided in this complex.
The Gurdwara was also established by Sardar Mehar Singh of Nishananwali Misl. Gurdwara Sri Badshahi Bagh Sahib was destroyed by British shelling on a rebel force during the 1857 mutiny. It was rebuilt only in 1931 by Bhai Gurmukh Singh of Patiala. Its present building is however the result of another reconstruction, this time by Sants of the Nirmala sect who are still managing it.
Pir Sayyad Shah who witnessed the sparrows fighting with the hawk paid homage to the young Guru and because the water around the area was brackish he prayed to Guru Ji for a well of sweet water. Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji located a spot to dig, and surely enough the water of the new well tasted sweet. It is recounted that Guru Gobind Singh Ji sanctified the water of the well (still present in the Gurdwara).
A beautiful building consisting of a main hall, the Dashmesh Barat Ghar, library, dispensary and staff quarters has been constructed here. The present building of Gurdwara Sri Gobind Pura Sahib is also a product of the post-independence era.
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