Machhiwara Sahib is one of the developing cities in the Ludhiana district of Punjab.
Machhiwara's name came from machhi (fish) + wara (ground). In ancient times, Machhiwara used to be a tiny fishing village on the edge of the Satlej river. The rivers flow has changed with time and now the river runs 13 km away from Machhiwara. Machhiwara had a dense forest surrounding it which, over time, has been cleared to make way for farms.
Humayun was the second Mughal Emperor who ruled over territory in what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of northern India from 1531–1540 and again from 1555–1556. Like his father, Babur, he lost his kingdom early, but regained it with the aid of the Safavid dynasty of Persia, with additional territory.
When Humayun was struggling to regain his power on India, Humayun captured Lahore in February 1555. Another detachment of his forces captured Dipalpur. Next, the mughal army occupied Jalandhar and their advanced division proceeded towards Sirhind. Sikandar Shah Suri sent a force of 30,000 horses with Naseeb Khan and Tatar Khan but they were defeated by Humayun's mughal army in a battle at Machhiwara. The battle between Humayun and Afghans took place on 15th May 1555.
Machhiwara and the surrounding districts became owned by Rana Udho Singh Ghorewaha who received Rahon as a Jagir from Emperor Akbar in return for his capturing of the rebel General Bairam Khan. This village and many surrounding it were owned by Ghorewaha Rajputs.
When Emperor Aurangzeb's army attacked the fortress of Chamkaur Sahib, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji successfully resisted their onslaught and slipped away into the forests of Machhiwara. The mughal forces gave chase.
Today, there are 4 Historic Sikh Gurdwaras that remember what happended when Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, who had just lost two of his son's, came to the jungles of Machhiwara.
Gurdwara Sri Charan Kanwal Sahib marks the site of the garden where Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji stopped first to drink water and rest. This was also where Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh and Bhai Mani Singh rejoined Guru Gobind Singh (after an arduous journey through the thorny forest of Machhiwara) as per the Guru's plan. The well that Guru Gobind Singh drank from still exists and water is provided to visiting Sangats. The Jand tree that Guru Ji rested under is on the left of the Gurdwara Sahib. It is here that the Guru sang the shabad 'Mitra Pyare Nu'.
The central building of this shrine has a square hall on the ground floor with a square sanctum in the centre where Guru Granth Sahib is seated. The domed pavilion over the sanctum on the second floor contains a large portrait of Guru Gobind Singh in a sleeping posture. There are also decorative domed pavilions on this floor, square at the corners and rectangular at midpoints of the walls.
A rectangular sarovar, west of the Gurdwara, was constructed during the 1970's. It receives its water supply from an old well believed to be the same as watered the garden at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The Gurdwara is controlled by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee through a local committee which also manages Gurdwara Sri Chaubara Sahib Machhiwara. An annual congregation fair is held in December, corresponding to 8th and 9th of Poh, the days Guru Ji stayed at Machiwara.
The well that Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji drank from belonged to Bhai Gulaba and Bhai Punjaba. Bhai Gulaba and Bhai Punjaba took Guru Ji to their home which is where Gurdwara Sri Chaubara Sahib Machhiwara is located. Bhai Gulaba and Bhai Punjaba's mother, Mata Hardei, presented a chola to Guru Ji.
Gani Khan and his brother Nabi Khan were pathan horse traders of Machhiwara and were admirers of Guru Gobind Singh whom they had visited at Anandpur and to whom they had sold many good animals. When they learnt that, travelling in a lonely state after the battle of Chamkaur, the Guru had come to Machhiwara, they at once turned out to meet him and offer their services.
Gani Khan and Nabi Khan were well aware of the danger that Guru Gobind Singh was in and yet even though they were muslims their respect for the Sikh Guru was such that they risked certain death, if caught. Gani Khan and Nabi Khan invited Guru Gobind Singh to take shelter in their home. The brothers noticed that there were too many informers roaming around so they suggested that the Guru should have his clothes colored blue, as it would be easier and far safer for them to travel in disguise. And so a dyer was called for. When the dyer arrived Guru Ji requested that he re-color his clothing blue - a color then associated with Sufi Saints.
The dyer then told the Guru that he could do as he wished, but he added that the clothes could only be dyed when a matti (a large earthen pot) was fully prepared and that would takes 3 days once the dye was put in. The Guru told the tradesman that he had already had a matti prepared, when the dyer went in the next room and saw it, he was amazed to see the matti already boiling with the proper dye in the water.
The dyer, now sure, that the Guru was a true 'Hermit of God', realized that he should ask for some boon from him. After coloring the clothes and presenting them at the Guru's feet, the dyer stood with his hands pressed together. Guru Ji gave the man some coins, but the dyer refused to take money. Guru Ji asked him what he wanted. The dyer asked for his blessing so that he might have a child. Then added a second request saying, "As I am unable to earn enough for a living and am not able to pay off the debt I owe for the dye I use, kindly bless me". Guru Gobind Singh replied saying, "The matti in which you have colored my clothes will never again require that any coloring to be added to it. Just dip in your cloth and whatever color you think in your heart, the cloth will become that color. Keep the matti covered and do not tell this secret to anyone.
This site was where Guru Ji was disguised as Uch Da Peer. Guru Ji's clothes were dyed blue using a huge clay pot which can be viewed at the Gurdwara. Guru Gobind Singh stayed in the Chaubara, which is a room on the first floor, hence the name Gurdwara Sri Chaubara Sahib Machhiwara. The present building comprises a square hall with the sanctum in the centre. The hall is in a square walled compound.
Gurdwara Sri Gani Khan Nabi Khan Sahib is located about 500 yards from Gurdwara Sri Chaubara Sahib Machhiwara. Guru Gobind Singh visited the home of Gani Khan and Nabi Khan in a blue colored dress that was prepared at Gurdwara Sri Chaubara Sahib. The Guru stayed at this place for 2 days and 2 nights.
Gani Khan and Nabi Khan declared Guru Gobind Singh to be Uchch Da Peer, the holy man of Uchch, an old seat of muslim saints in southwest Punjab. This is why Gurdwara Sri Gani Khan Nabi Khan Sahib is also known as Gurdwara Uchch Da Peer. Gani Khan, Nabi Khan, Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh and Bhai Mani Singh carried Guru Gobind Singh out of Machhiwara in a palanquin befitting a Saint.
The Gurdwara was established after 1947 in the private house formerly belonging to the descendants of Ghani Khan and Nabi Khan. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated in a small rectangular room. A double-storey cell in this house is also being maintained in memory of Guru Gobind Singh. Gani Khan and Nabi Khan were given a Hukamnama from Guru Gobind Singh for their service, of which a copy is at the Gurdwara. The smadh of Gani Khan and Nabi Khan is also at this Gurdwara.
As Gani Khan, Nabi Khan, Bhai Daya Singh, Bhai Dharam Singh and Bhai Mani Singh carried Guru Gobind Singh out of Machhiwara, after about 2 km, they were stopped by the mughal army at the location of Gurdwara Sri Kirpan Bhenta Sahib.
Dilavar Khan, the mughal general, was suspicious and asked the party to stop and share food with him as a simple test. Gani Khan excused the Guru by saying Uchch Da Peer was on a fast. Not wanting to draw suspicion the Guru provided a small kirpan to his Sikhs to turn the mughal food into parshad (holy food). As Uchch Da Peer, Guru Ji unearthed a natural spring of water which is now marked by a well at this site. Dilavar Khan was so impressed he gifted 500 mohars and an expensive shawl to Guru Ji. In turn, Guru Sahib awarded the money to Gani Khan and Nabi Khan.
It was here that the tradition of dipping the kirpan upon doing the Ardas was started by Guru Gobind Singh. Under the difficult situation while under the concerted efforts of the mughals to hunt down the Guru by any means it became impossible for the Sikhs to have the luxury of preparing langar in the traditional manner. Normally much time could be spent and the Guru would bless the food first before the congregation. Hence, to make the process quicker and easier, before the meal was consumed, the ardas was done in the normal way to thank the Almighty. Towards the end of the ardas, the kirpan was dipped into the food as a symbol of offering to the Lord before the whole of the congregation consumed the meal.
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