Sri Muktsar Sahib, often referred to as Muktsar, is a city and district headquarters for the district of Sri Muktsar Sahib located in the State of Punjab.
Historically, Muktsar was known as 'Khidrana' or 'Khidrane Di Dhab', the city was made the district headquarters in 1995.
Chronological evidence indicates that the city was named Muktsar after the 1705 Battle of Muktsar.
The government officially changed the name of the city to Sri Muktsar Sahib in 2012.
The modern day Muktsar city was historically a semi-desert terrain named Khidrana or Khidrane de dhab, situated near a lake. Not much is known about the early history of the present area of the city.
This may partly be due to the river Sutlej. The Sutlej is notorious for shifting its course, and it is stated to have flowed as far east as Muktsar within historical times.
While shifting its course it is said to have leveled down everything that came its way, leaving behind ruins and mounds of earth and pottery debris.
The present area of Muktsar is almost entirely destitute of ancient buildings and contains no places mentioned in early records.
Legends connected with Raja Sálbán attach to one or two other ruined sites near Muktsar such as that at Sarai Naga, 10 miles (16 km) to the east of Muktsar. But the city does not date from an earlier period than the reign of Akbar.
The territory of which Muktsar now forms a part of was formerly ruled by the Paramara Rajputs who held it for a considerable period. Jiwa moved to the neighborhood of Muktsar where his descendants held a group of villages, and his grandson Abdulla Khan became the zaildar of Muktsar.
About the time of the first Muslim conquests of India, a colony of Bhati Rajputs, of whose stock the tribes of Manj, Naipals and Dogra Rajputs are branches, came from Jaisalmer under a leader, called Rai Hel, and settled to the south of the present town of Muktsar. They overcame the local Paramara chief and firmly established themselves. Brar had two sons, Paur and Dhul, the younger of whom held almost the whole of the region of Muktsar. During the decay of the Delhi Empire, the country, which had apparently become almost depopulated, was occupied by the Dogras, a clan of Rajput origin, who are still prominent among the occupants of Muktsar.
The rulers, who were Islamic and called themselves converted descendants of the Chauhans of Delhi, emigrated some years ago to the neighbourhood of Pakpattan; and from thence, two centuries ago, spread for a hundred miles along both banks of the river Sutlej from a few miles above Ferozepur to the borders of Bahawalpur. At one time they were undoubted masters of Mamdot and Khai, as well as of Ferozepor including the present area of Muktsar; their seats were principally in the Khadir of the Sutlej, and their occupations pastoral and predatory.
In March 1504, Sri Guru Angad Sahib Ji was born at 'Matte di Sarai' (now called Sarai Naga), about 16 km's from Muktsar. His father Bhai Pheru was a Trehan Khatri merchant, and mother, Ramo, a housewife.
Under the pressure of a prolonged siege with food and ammunition exhausted, Guru Gobind Singh and 400 Sikhs left Sri Anandpur Sahib on the bitter cold and rainy night of December 1704. The Mughals and Ajmer Chand's league of Rajput Hill Chieftains had offered Guru Sahib a safe passage to leave Anandpur Sahib on an oath sworn on the Quran, an oath that had been signed by emperor Aurangzeb, as well as, an oath sworn on the Gita and the cow (which hindus consider sacred) by the Rajput Chieftains.
However, their respective 'Holy' oaths proved to be meaningless as they lost little time betraying their promises to Guru Sahib, almost as soon as the Sikhs had left the safety of their impregnable fortress. In the ensuing battle, many Sikhs were killed and all of the Guru's baggage, including most of the precious manuscripts, were lost.
Guru Gobind Singh was seperated from his family. The hindu and muslims forces were responsible for torturing and killing Guru Gobind Singh's mother and all 4 sons, at Chamkaur and Fatehgarh Sahib. Guru Gobind Singh started looking out for a suitable place from where he could defend himself. Assisted by an experienced guide of a Brar chief, Guru Gobind Singh reached Khidrane Di Dhab where he finally decided to meet the enemy. Guru Gobind Singh received news that he was being pursued by the imperial troops, an advance guard of at least 10,000 strong, under Wazir Khan, the evil subedar of Sirhind.
Earlier, in 1704, when the Guru Gobind Singh's Army in Anandpur Sahib had run out of provisions, 40 Sikhs from Majha deserted him, where they signed a declaration saying they were no longer the Sikhs of Guru Gobind Singh and he was no longer their guru. Now, those 40 deserters came back to join the Guru's forces, realizing their mistake of deserting him, under the motivation of a woman fighter, Mai Bhago.
The Sikhs engaged the mughal forces at Khidrane Di Dhab. Guru Gobind Singh also sent reinforcements, heavily outnumbered they showered arrows from his strategic position on the mound, down upon the imperial army, killing a number of them. The resistance of the Sikhs became fierce. The enemy became restive for want of water. It was not possible for them to reach the lake of Khidrana. As it was semi-desert terrain and the summer heat was reaching its peak, Guru Gobind Singh knew of its importance and based his defenses around the water reservoir.
The only water they could get was fifteen miles behind them. The tough resistance offered by the Sikhs, and thirst, compelled the mughal army to retreat. Guru Gobind Singh won this last Khalsa battle, which had resulted in heavy casualties. At the end of the battle, when he was looking for survivors, Mai Bhago, who was lying wounded with 22 wounds on her body, told Guru Sahib how the forty deserters had laid down their lives fighting in the battlefield. Mai Bhago had fought by carrying a weapon weighing 11 kilograms. Mai Bhago recovered and remained in the Guru's presence after the Battle of Muktsar.
When Guru Gobind Singh, along with his Sikhs, was collecting the dead bodies for cremation, he found one man, named Mahan Singh, still clinging to life. On seeing the Guru, he made an effort to rise; the Guru at once took him in his embrace, and sat down with him. Mahan Singh, tearful and exhausted, asked Guru Gobind Singh to destroy the document disclaiming his being a Sikh of the Guru. Before Mahan Singh died, Guru Gobind Singh took the document and tore it up. This gave "Mukti", meaning freedom, to those 40 Sikhs and hence, the city received its modern-day name Muktsar, where the word "sar" is derived from the word "sarovar", meaning reservoir, with reference to the Kidrana reservoir.
There are 8 Historic Sikh Gurdwaras in the Sri Muktsar Sahib city.
Gurdwara Sri Datansar Sahib marks the site where a mughal assassin attacked Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji while Guru Sahib was brushing his teeth with a datan (a traditional toothbrush) in the morning. Guru Gobind Singh reacted swiftly and hit the sarbloh pot, that he had with him, on the head of the assassin.
The assassin died on the spot and Guru Sahib had him buried nearby. The Gurdwara is located 600 meters northwest of Gurdwara Sri Tibbi Sahib in the northwest part of Muktsar city. The grave of the assassin still exists and some beat the grave, 5 times, with their shoes to express their disapproval of the assassin's attack.
Gurdwara Sri Mata Bhag Kaur is in the memory of Mai Bhago who motivated 40 Sikhs to rejoin Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji and the leadership she provided from here in the 1705 Battle of Muktsar.
Gurdwara Sri Rakabsar Sahib Muktsar is located 200 meters east of Gurdwara Sri Tibbi Sahib in the northwest part of Muktsar city. According to local tradition, as Guru Gobind Singh Ji came down from the Tibbi and was going to mount his horse, the stirrup (Rakabs in Punjabi) snapped. Hence the name of the Gurdwara was called Gurdwara Sri Rakabsar Sahib Muktsar. The Rakab is still kept at the Gurdwara.
The birthdays of Sri Guru Nanak Sahib Ji, Guru Gobind Singh Ji and Shaheedi purab of Sri Guru Arjun Sahib Ji are celebrated with great fervour here. A Magh mela is organized on the 12th and 13th of January to commemorate the sacrifice of the Chali (40) Muktas.
Gurdwara Sri Shaheed Ganj Sahib Muktsar, also known as Angeetha Sahib, commemorates the place where the last rites of the Forty Muktas, or the Liberated ones, were performed. Guru Gobind Singh Ji himself performed the last rites of the forty Sikhs who laid down their lives in the Battle at Muktsar and named the place as Shaheed Ganj.
Gurdwara Sri Shaheed Ganj Sahib Muktsar is picturesquely set, beside a water tank. its interior walls are covered with paintings of the Sikh Gurus and scenes from their lives. This Gurdwara is the meeting place of millions of Sikhs, who gather here on the 1st Magh (around 12th and 13th of January), called the Magh Mela it is celebrated with great enthusiasm here. The Gurdwara was first built by Raja Wazir Singh of Faridkot.
Gurdwara Sri Tambu Sahib Muktsar, near the south eastern corner of the sarovar, marks the spot where the Muktas took position behind trees and shrubs which they camouflaged to look like tents (Tambu, in Punjabi) in the Battle of Muktsar.
When 40 Sikhs under the command of Mata Mai Bhago arrived at 'Khidrane Di Dhab' (now Muktsar) they took positions at this place behind the trees and shrubs. They placed cloth-sheets on the shrubs and trees and made them look like Tambu's, hence the name of the Gurdwara. The tents were made to make the enemy think that their was a large Sikh Army present at this place. After winning the Battle of Muktsar, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji also pitched his tent here.
The present building, which replaced the old one built at the initiative of Maharaja Mohinder Singh of Patiala (1852-76), was constructed through karseva during the 1980's. It comprises a high ceillinged domed hall, with a gallery at mid height and the sanctum in the centre.
Gurdwara Sri Taran Taran Sahib is situated in the south eastern edge of Muktsar city. While travelling from the 'Mound of Khidrana' (the site of the Battle of Muktsar) Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji stopped at this place. Guru Gobind Singh is said to have mentioned that many sages and seers prayed to God at this site. From here Guru Sahib travelled towards the site of Gurdwara Sri Gurusar Sahib Rupana (located at the nearby village of Rupana).
Gurdwara Sri Tibbi Sahib Muktsar is situated in the northwest part of Muktsar city, 2 km's from the main Gurdwara Sri Tuti Gandi Sahib. When Guru Gobind Singh arrived in Khidrane Di Dhab, Bhai Dan Singh Ji asked Guru Sahib to come here. Guru Gobind Singh pitched his tent on a Tibbi here (small hill top) from where Guru Sahib commanded the Battle of Muktsar. During the battle Guru Gobind Singh provided support and arrow cover for the Sikh army from here.
The main Gurdwara in Muktsar is Gurdwara Sri Tuti Gandi Sahib. Gurdwara Sri Tuti Gandi Sahib remembers 40 Muktas and the 1705 Battle of Muktsar. Tuti gandi, which literally translated means 'broken ties', which is referred to Guru Gobind Singh nullifying the document that he was no longer the Guru of the 40 Sikhs, in the context of the Battle of Muktsar.
The Gurdwara was built by the first Sikh residents that settled in the city in 1743. The Gurdwara has a large holy sarovar encirled by other Gurdwaras. The Darbar Sahib is located on the western side of the sarovar. The Gurdwara building has been renovated several times.
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