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Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib

Location - Anandpur Sahib, Ropar, Punjab, India


Associated with - Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji


Sikh Artifacts - Yes


Sarovar - Yes


Sarai - Yes


Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, situated at Anandpur Sahib, is one of the most holy places of the Sikhs.

Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib is the birthplace of the Khalsa. The order of the Khalsa was founded here by Sri Guru Gobind Singh in 1699.

The foundation stone of Anandpur Sahib was laid on 30th March 1689. It was here that the Khalsa was born, when the young Guru called for a special congregation on the Vaisakhi day of 1699 with thousands of Sikhs in attendance.

Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib stands at the place where Guru Gobind Singh initiated the 'Panj Pyaras', the five beloved ones, and administered Amrit to them.

Anandpur Sahib literally means 'City of Spiritual Bliss'. The area now known as Anandpur Sahib includes Chak Nanaki, Anandpur Sahib and a number of adjacent villages.

It is generally believed that Anandpur was founded by Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib on 19th June 1665, but, in fact it was Chak Nanaki which was first founded in 1665.

The area of Chak Nanaki (in 1665) extended between the village of Agamgarh and the square between Keshgarh Sahib and the town's bus stand.

Revolutionary Concept

On the day of Vaisakhi in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh destroyed the centuries old caste system by formalising Sikh philosophy in the concept of the Khalsa. In one stroke, Guru Gobind Singh removed the racial prejudices based on birth-right, caste and privilege.

Guru Gobind Singh initiated the five Panj and asked them to initiate himself (The Guru) into the new order. Guru Gobind Singh showed that historical prejudices were no longer acceptable. This changed the course of human history in this part of the world. However, it was also seen as a threat to the established order (something Sikhs have to live with even today).

Guru Gobind Singh required of the Khalsa to wear five Kakars ie. Kes, Kangha, Kara, Kachhehra and Kirpan at this sacred place. Guru Gobind Singh ordered them to stay away from four Kurehts. The Guru gave appellation of 'Singh' to men and that of 'Kaur' to women to be used after their first names.

It is believed that 20,000 people were initiated that day (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee: The Holy City of Bliss) at Sri Anandpur Sahib. According to Syad Muhammad Latif, 'in less than a fortnight 80,000 Sikhs flocked to Makhowal (Anandpur Sahib) in obedience to the commands of the Guru (p.263 of History of the Panjab).

Early History

Thousands of years ago, the Anandpur zone, from Kiratpur Sahib to Nangal, which was known as "Hathaut" (literally: abode of elephants), was a dense forest with thick growth of trees and bushes. This jungle-valley was surrounded by several hill belts, river Satluj, Charan Ganga and other rivulets. It was a home for elephants, lions, bears, wolves and other beasts. This area, about 50 km in length and 10-12 km in width, did not have any human population.

By fifteenth century most of the beasts had either been killed or had moved to the upper hills, but, still, people were afraid of visiting this area. It was only in June 1665 when Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib founded the town of Chak Nanaki that people began visiting this area.

The Most Beautiful Aerial View of Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib

Guru Sahib turned this haunting forest into a fine place. The area where people did not dare to enter even during daytime became a great centre of spiritualism, learning and arts. Before 1665 the zone of Anandpur Sahib had no mention in history.

Local Myth

According to a local myth a giant named Makho used to live here. At that time this place was known as Makhowal. According to another tradition two brothers named Makho and Mato were the chiefs of this area. They founded the villages of Makhowal and Mataur.

Both were cruel chiefs. As a result, residents of these areas began moving to far-off places and finally both the village were deserted. But, there is no historical evidence to prove these stories. In 1665, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib laid the foundation of Chak Nanaki at the top of the mound known as ruins of Makhowal.

Background

Guru Tegh Bahadur used to live at Bakala and had spent more than seven years (1656-64) in Assam, Bengal and Bihar. Guru Tegh Bahadur had spent some time at Talwandi Sabo and Dhamtan too. In the middle of April 1665, Guru Tegh Bahadur made a visit to Kiratpur Sahib. When Guru Tegh Bahadur was still at Kiratpur, on 27th April 1665, Raja Deep Chand, the ruler of Bilaspur, died.

Sri Guru Gobind Singh's Khanda

The historic Khanda assiciated with the first Amrit
initiation at Vaisakhi 1699.

The Bilaspur ruler was a very devoted Sikh. On 10th May 1665, Guru Sahib went to Bilaspur to make last prayers for Raja Deep Chand. Guru Sahib stayed there till 13th May.

By this time Rani Champa had come to know that Guru Sahib had decided to move his headquarters to Dhamtan. This made Rani Champa despondent. Rani Champa approached Mata Nanaki (Guru Sahib's mother) and begged her to ask Guru Sahib not to move far away from Bilaspur State.

Mata Nanaki could not resist helping a sentimental Rani Champa. Mata Ji requested Guru Sahib to fulfil Rani's desire. When Guru Sahib agreed, Rani Champa offered to donate some land to Guru Sahib so that he might established a new town. Guru Sahib decided to set up new town but refused to accept a donation of the land.

The site of the city of Anandpur Sahib on the lower spurs of Shivalak hills, was purchased by Guru Tegh Bahadur on a payment of rupees five hundred. Guru Tegh Bahadur selected a piece of land in between the villages of Lodipur, Mianpur and Sahota and paid regular price for the same. Rani Champa hesitatingly accepted the price of the land but her joy new no bounds at the thought that Guru Ji had chosen to establish his headquarters near Bilaspur State.

The Site Chosen

The site chosen by Guru Sahib, around the ruins of the ancient village of Makhowal, was very remarkable from a strategic point of view as it was surrounded by the river Satlej on one side as well as having hills and forest surrounding it as well. It proved to be a peaceful zone for meditation as well as for arts and intellectual activities. Chak Nanaki as the area became known was named after Guru Ji's mother.

Sri Guru Gobind Singh's Karpa Barsha

When the residents complained of a water shortage, Guru Ji struck the ground with this very Karpa Barsha and water came gushing out.

At the time it seemed safe from military interference and disturbances. The Sikhs had experienced Mughal invasions at Amritsar and Kartarpur in 1634 and 1635. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib had participated in these battles. Though Kiratpur Sahib had remained safe from Mughal attacks, the possibility always existed because Aurangzeb was sitting on the Delhi throne and he was known for his fanaticism.

Thus, the sight selected for new town had a special importance. In 1665, the river Satlej used to flow through the present city of Anandpur Sahib (now it flows near Kiratpur Sahib). Kiratpur Sahib was also a strategic place. It was surrounded by Satlej on one side, river Sirsa on the other side and a chain of hills on the third side.

Similarly, the site of Chak Nanaki was a great choice. It had the protection of Charn Ganga stream on two sides and river Satlej on the third. Towards the hills-side there were thick bushes and trees. Long long ago, it was covered in dense forest filled with herds of wild elephants and other animals. Then, this area was known as Hathaut (literally: abode of elephants).

The area or Chak Nanaki was a peaceful zone. Besides, it was fertile land which could easily yield two crops annually. Hence, the new city was capable of becoming a self-sufficient city-state. Guru Sahib's selection of the land was highly appreciated by Rani Champa and the Sikhs. The Bilaspur elite were exceptionally happy because the presence of a Sikh city-state on the borders of Bilaspur State and the Mughal territory meant increased safety for Bilaspur and its associate States.

Establishment of Anandpur

The foundation stone of the new town was laid down by Bhai Gurditta (great-grandson of Baba Buddha), on 19th June 1665 at the present site of Gurdwara Guru Ka Mehal. The first prayers were made by Diwan Dargah Mall. Guru Tegh Bahadur named the new town Chak Nanaki after his mother Mata Nanaki. Guru Sahib spent the next three months at Chak Nanaki. During this period a couple of house had been built for the visitors to the Sikh City.

Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was unable to visit Chak Nanaki for the next six and a half years, as he was away on a missionary journey to Assam, Bengal and Bihar (January 1666 to March 1670. After this, he spent about one and a half year at Bakala (now Baba Bakala).

In March 1672 Guru Sahib and his family moved to Chak Nanaki and finally established it as his headquarters. It was from this village that the great Guru of peace set out on his mission on behalf of the Pandits of Kashmir, which ended with his martyrdom on 11th November 1675.

The Tenth Guru

At Anandpur Sahib, Guru Tegh Bahadur listened to an aggrieved group of Kashmiri Brahmins who were being terrorized under the religious bigotry of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Guru Gobind Singh, a child of nine, asked his father to make the supreme sacrifice to upkeep righteousness.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded on 11th November 1675 at Chandni Chowk, Delhi. Guru Tegh Bahadur's head was returned to Anandpur Sahib by Bhai Jaita.

Guru Gobind Singh declared, 'Rangrete Guru Ke Bete' (Rangretas are the Sons of the Guru) referring to Bhai Jaita and his journey from Delhi.

Guru Gobind Singh cremated the head of Guru Tegh Bahadur at Anandpur Sahib, the place is now marked as Gurdwara Sri Sis Ganj Sahib. After the cremation Guru Gobind Singh gave a speech at what is now Gurdwara Sri Akal Bunga. Gobind Rai became Guru Gobind Singh at the age of nine at Anandpur Sahib after the martyrdom of his father.

Sri Guru Gobind Singh's Saif
Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah presented this Saif to Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
It is said to have belonged to Caliph Ali (Son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad)


Departure To Paonta Sahib

After Guru Tegh Bahadur re-joined with God, Guru Gobind Singh stayed in his father's city, However, theintrigue and jealousy of the surrounding hill chiefs were on the increase. Around the same time, Guru Gobind Singh received an invitation from Raja Medini Prakash to visit his kingdom.

So on April 1685 Guru Gobind Singh Sahib and many of his family members, his court and his Sikhs traveled to Nathan where they were warmly received. It turns out that the Raja was interested in strengthening his alliances by befriending the Guru and his Sikhs and the alliance formed worked well for both parties. The Raja's troops aided the Sikhs in building a new fort in record time.

Paonta Sahib, as the Guru named the fort, became his home for the next three years. The Guru would often reflect on his days spent in the mountains, whether in refelction, hunting, training his Sikhs in warfare and of course his many hours spent in writing as some of the most productive and happy years of his life.

In October of 1688 he left the area returning to Chak Nanaki in November 1688. On March 30,1689 Guru Sahib laid the foundation of a new town naming it Anandpur Sahib.

Keshgarh Sahib Fort

Keshgarh Sahib fort was completed in 1699. From 1700 to 1705, the holy city of Anandpur Sahib was under attack by the mughals and hindu hill chiefs.

The neighbouring hill and mughal armies attacked Anandpur Sahib several times but were never able to reach Keshgarh Sahib because the fort was seemingly impregnable. Before reaching the gates of Keshgarh the armies would have had to capture the forts at Taragarh, Agamgarh, Fatehgarh and Anandgarh and that never happened.

Treachery

Sri Guru Gobind Singh's bandook (musket)

Many weapons, including this bandook (musket) from a Sikh
from Lahore were presented to Guru Ji.

The combined might of the hindu and mughal empire armies could not defeat Guru Gobind Singh and his Sikhs, so the enemies of the Sikhs laid siege and used treachery. The starved occupants of Anandpur and its defensive forts, convinced Guru Sahib to agree to leave the city.

The hindus and mughals, using their sacred scriptures, promised safe passage. The oaths were lies, the hindus and mughals had no regard for their brahmin and muslim beliefs. It was when the great Guru and his Sikhs were about to forge a nearby river, that the hill and mughal armies attacked.

The Sikhs were unable to return to Anandpur Sahib until Baba Banda Singh's efforts to retake the city proved successful. Banda Bahadur also subjugated the ruler of Bilaspur, who had been behind the siege of the city in 1705. But all to soon the Sikhs had to face another wave of persecution after the fall of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur.

Anandpur Becomes Prosperous Again

In the early 1800's most of the Sikh homeland was once again under the rule of Sikhs. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the other Sikh Misls and the Patiala dynasty, became the de facto rulers of Punjab. A period of peace and prosperity allowed the scattered Sikhs to begin making frequent visits to Anandpur Sahib. Anandpur Sahib became the safest place for Sikhs.

Baba Baghel Singh of the Karorasinghia Misl, who had taken charge of Delhi and constructed many Sikh Gurdwaras in the city, visited Anandpur Sahib in the 1780s and decided to construct, repair and renovate the Gurdwaras of the city.

In 1812, Mahan Chand, the ruler of Bilaspur, attacked Anandpur Sahib only to suffer heavy losses.

Sri Guru Gobind Singh's Shamsheer-e-Tegha

Shamsheer-e-Tegha, scimitar of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Geographical Surroundings

More recently, Chak Nanaki and Anandpur Sahib as well as some adjoining villages (Sahota, Lodipur, Agampur, Mataur etc) have formed the present city of Anandpur Sahib.

The boundaries of Chak Nanaki, Anandpur Sahib, Sahota, Lodipur, Mataur, Agampur etc. are not known to most people. Only revenue officers (Patwari and Lambardar) know about the actual boundary-lines. In government papers Chak Nanaki is known as 'Chak' only.

The square between the present bus stand and Gurdwara Keshgarh Sahib is the meeting point of Chak Nanaki, Anandpur Sahib and Lodipur. Gurdwara Guru Ka Mehal (Bhora Sahib, Damdama Takht Sahib and Manji Sahib) are in the territory of Chak Nanaki. It was the residence of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib and Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. Gurdwara Sis Ganj is on the border of Chak Nanaki and Anandpur Sahib. The Bus Stand, Hospital and the Girls School are in Chak Nanaki.

A part of the saw-mill near Gurdwara Holgarh Sahib is in the territory of Chak Nanaki and its boundary wall is within the boundary of Sahota village. The Milk Bar (near the squares) and the Sarover (tank) are in Lodipur village. The garden adjacent to the police post is a part of Chak Nanaki. Khalsa High School is in the territory of villages Sahota.

Qila Anandgarh Sahib Gurdwara Shaheedi Bagh (under the management of one group of Nihangs) are situated in the village of Lodipur. The area around Keshgarh Sahib is a part of Anandpur Sahib. Khalsa College has been built in the territory of village Mataur. The bridge over Charan Ganga is a part of Chak Nanaki. Now all these areas form the present city of Anandpur Sahib.

Environmental Change

The Anandpur zone has undergone several major changes in the past (ie. from 1665). The river Satluj, which used to flow near Anandgarh fort, has changed its course and now it flows about seven km away (near Kiratpur Sahib).

Sri Guru Gobind Singh's Dah-e-ahini

Dah-e-ahini of Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

"Himaiti" stream, which used to protect Anandpur Sahib from Mughal invasions, has disappeared. Several other rainy streams too have disappeared. A bridge has been built on Charan Ganga rivulet. The hill on which a tent was put up (Tambu Wali Pahari) on the day of revelation of Khalsa does not exist any more. Even the hill on which Keshgarh Sahib shrine has been built is, now, at least ten feet (more than three meters) lesser in height than it was in 1698.

A long range of small hills which extended from Keshgarh Sahib to Anandpur fort no longer exists, because in the name of progress, in 1973, a road was constructed to link Keshgarh Sahib and Anandgarh Sahib fort that necessitated levelling the hill tops.

A very large number of new buildings have been constructed in and around Anandpur Sahib. Today's Anandpur is a lot different from Anandpur Sahib of the eighteenth century. However, almost all of the Gurdwaras have been built at the actual historic sites.

Today, Anandpur Sahib is a tehsil. Its 240 villages include Chak Nanaki, Agampur, Sahota, Lodipur, Mianpur, Mataur (Anandpur Sahib zone), Kiratpur Sahib, Jauwal, Kalyanpur Bhaguwal (Kiratpur zone), Jindbari, Khera-Kalmot, Nangal (Nangal zone), Kahanpur Khuhi, Nurpur Bedi (Nurpur Bedi zone) Bajrur, Basali, Chanauli (Takhtgarh zone) etc. "Guru Ka Lahore" and Gurdwara Taragarh are a part of Bilaspur district (Himanchal Pradesh).

Though most of the places associated with the history of Anandpur Sahib are in the territories of Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib zones but Kalmot, Basali, Bajrpur, Bibhaur, Bassi Kalan, Bhattha Sahib, Chamkaur Sahib, Machhiwara (as well as Machhiwara to Talwandi Sabo) are situated in other zones.

Similarly, Gurdwaras at Gurpalah, Bilaspur, Nahan, Paonta Sahib, Bhangani, Nadaun, Rivalsar etc are in Himanchal Pradesh. No Gurdwara has, so far, been built at Ajner, Malakpur and some other places associated with Guru Gobind Singh Sahib's stay at Anandpur Sahib and his journey from Machhiwara to Dina Kangar.

Sri Guru Gobind Singh's Dhal (shield)

Guru Gobind Singh Ji's Dhal (shield)
made of hippopotamus skin.

Population Growth

Anandpur Sahib had a population of a few hundreds at the time of Guru Gobind Singh Sahib but hundreds of Sikhs used to visit Anandpur Sahib to make obeisance to Guru Sahib. In the month of March more than twenty thousand Sikhs used to attend the annual Sikh gathering at Anandpur Sahib.

On the night of 5th and 6th December 1675 when Guru Gobind Singh Sahib finally left Anandpur Sahib, only one person, Bhai Gurbakhsh Das, was left in the town. After a few years the families of Gulab Singh and Sham Singh (great-grandsons of Guru Hargobind Sahib) moved to Anandpur and began living there.

With the passage of time Anandpur Sahib again became a prominent Sikh center. At the time of Akali Phula Singh, in the first decade of the nineteenth century, the family of Bhai Surjan Singh Sodhi (a descendant of Guru Hargobind Singh) used to live there. At that time the population of Anandpur Sahib was less than three thousand.

In 1868, when the first regular census was held, the population of Anandpur Sahib was 6869. In the first half of the twentieth century its population remained less than seven thousand. During this period an epidemic spread through the town and the adjoining villages, resulting into exodus of most of the population.

After 1947, a few Sikh families, which had been uprooted from the west Punjab (Pakistan), moved to Anandpur Sahib. After a couple of years the Bhakhra-Nangal-Ganguwal projects added population of several hundred persons to the town.

Hola Mohalla and Vaisakhi

The festival of Hola Mahalla was first started by Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib to display the martial arts of the Sikhs. This festival is celebrated here in the month of March every year.

The guru decreed that the occasion of the festival of Hola Mohalla (which shares the same day as the hindu festival of holi but is completely seperate) will be the occasion for the display of the martial spirit of his people.

Bhai Kahan Singh, who compiled the Mahan Kosh (the first Sikh encyclopedia) at the turn of the 20th century, explained, 'hola' is derived from the word 'halla' (a military charge) and the term 'mohalla' stands for an organized procession or an army column. The words 'Hola Mohalla' would thus stand for 'the charge of an army. Each year Hola Mohalla marks the congregation of over 100,000 Sikhs from all over the country.

Sikhs

The fair lasts for three days. The Gurdwaras are specially decorated for the occasion. During Hola Mohalla, Anandpur Sahib wears a festive appearance and hums with activities in March. Community conferences and religious functions are also organized. On this occasion, Nihangs from all over the country gather for the celebrations.

The highlight is a huge procession by the Nihangs, clad in their traditional dress and weapons, on the last day of the fair. The procession starts from the headquarters of the Nihangs, opposite Gurdwara Anandgarh Sahib, and passes through the bazaar, goes to village Agampur and reaches the Fort of Holgarh, the place where Guru Gobind Singh used to celebrate this fair. Thereafter, the procession heads toward the sandy bed of Charan Ganga, where demonstration of martial games including riding, tent pegging, sword-wielding, etc. are witnessed by a large number of people.

Likewise, Vaisakhi at Anandpur Sahib is also an important celebration.

Shastars of Guru Gobind Singh Ji and His Warriors

Keshgarh Sahib is the home of many historical artifacts which belonged to Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

These include the actual Khanda (double edged sword) that the Guru used to prepare amrit on the revelation of Khalsa Day,
a Kartar, Guru Gobind Singh's personal dagger (which he always carried),
a Saif (a double edged weapon, presented to the Guru in the Fort of Agra by Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah, of Caliph Ali (son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad), see page 7 of 'Sankhep Itihas of Sri Anandpur Sahib' published by SGPC),
a muzzle-loading musket that was presented to Guru Sahib by one of his Sikhs from Lahore,
a spear known as karpa barchha of Guru Gobind Singh Ji,
and a nagani (a spear with a wavy pointed blade) of Bhai Bachittar Singh who drove away the drunken elephant of the enemy in an attack.

(Click on images to view Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib's shastars)


The above six shastar's, kept by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, belonged to Sri Guru Gobind Singh.
After the fall of the Sikh Empire in 1849 the British took these shastars to England. They were returned to
Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib for the celebration of the 300th birth anniversary of
Guru Gobind Singh in 1966-67 and are now on display.

Granthis

After 1820 regular Granthis began serving at Keshgarh Sahib. Historical sources mention the names of Bhai Karam Singh, Bhai Kharak Singh, Bhai Budh Singh, Bhai Puran Singh, Bhai Amar Singh etc as the Granthis of Keshgarh Sahib.

For about a century (1820 to 1925) Keshgarh Sahib had only one Granthi, but after Gurdwara reform movement (1920-25) a 'Jathedar' was appointed here too. This designation was given to Giani Resham Singh, Giani Partap Singh Mallewal, Jathedar Bir Singh, Master Ajit Singh Ambalvi, Giani Fauja Singh, Giani Bachitar Singh, Jathedar Gurdial Singh Ajnoha, Jathedar Harcharan Singh Mahalon, Bhai Shawinder Singh, Bhai Balbir Singh, Bahi Manjit Singh (Prof.) etc.

The Present Buildings

The present complex were constructed during 1936-44 under the supervision of Hari Singh Kaharpuri. Being on a slope, the complex has two levels protected by retaining walls on the sides. On the lower level, approached by a flight of steps is the imposing two-storeyed gateway, offices, and a 30-metre square courtyard.

The level on which stands the main building is 2.5 metres higher than the courtyard. The 16-metre square hall with a balcony in front contains within it the sanctum, a 5.5-metre square room in which some old weapons preserved as sacred relics from the time of Guru Gobind Singh are displayed on a low platform.

The Guru Granth Sahib is seated under a canopy outside the sanctum, above which rises a fluted lotus dome topped by a tall ornamental pinnacle of gilded metal, and a gilded khanda as a finial. On the roof, corners of the hall and the balcony are adorned with domed kiosks.

New Langar Hall Completed in 2011

The original Guru ka Langar was on the lower level behind the central building. However, a new multi-level building was built adjacent to the main Gurdwara and in the space next to the 'Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Niwas'.

The lower slopes of the Keshgarh hill are covered with rows of residential rooms for staff and visiting Sikh's. This complex is collectively known as Dashmesh Niwas. A 55-metre square diwan hall, about 150 metres east of the central building, was added during the 1980's to cater for large congregations on festival occasions.

A sarovar bathing tank, 80-metre square, in a walled compound is situated at ground level to the west of the Takht Sahib and close to the Ropar-Nangal road.

Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib
Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib


Five Qilas (Forts)

There are five Qilas (forts) of Anandpur Sahib (sometimes quoted as six which includes Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib); these are the defensive forts which were constructed by Guru Gobind Singh, during the 25 years that the Guru spent at Anandpur Sahib for the defence of the Sikhs and the community.

The neighboring hill Rajas and their Mughal allies became increasingly hostile towards the success of the Sikh community and their associates thriving in their midst in this region. Seeing the need to protect Anandpur from its hostile neighbors the Guru ordered the construction of a series of defensive forts (Qilas in the Persian language).

Sometimes, Keshgarh Sahib is not counted in the total and so reference is made to the 'Five Forts' of Anandpur Sahib; one central location with five forts encircling the town.

There were, as well, several other minor forts around the city, but the five forts encircling the fort surrounding the city were the main defensive forts that bore the series of attacks and siege that led to the Guru's eventual decision to leave the city under its attackers solemn promises of safe passage to Punjab.

Unfortunately, most of the original buildings were demolished by the hindu hill rulers and mughals.

Forts of Anandpur Sahib

The forts constructed by Guru Gobind Singh at Anandpur Sahib are:

Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib

Keshgarh Sahib - Keshgarh is the name given to the main location that Guru Gobind Singh constructed in Anandpur Sahib in 1699 where the Khalsa were born. The location is where Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib is now. The other five forts surrounded Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib in a masterful defensive strategy.

All the forts were joined together with earthworks and underground tunnels. Sometimes Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib is not regarded as a fort as the construction was different from the other 'proper' five forts.

The construction began in 1689 and took over ten years to complete. Guru Gobind Singh used to hold congregations on the hill where Keshgarh Sahib is located. His revelation of the Khalsa and its first initiation (Khande Di Pahul) took place here in 1699.

At that time the hill of Keshgarh Sahib was at least 10-15 feat higher than it is today. It was a very strong fort and before reaching the gates of this fort the armies had to capture the fort at Anandgarh, Fatehgarh, Holgarh, Lohgarh and Taragarh. This fort was never taken in the history of Anandpur Sahib, until Guru Gobind Singh Ji's decision to leave the city.

1. Gurdwara Qila Anandgarh Sahib

Qila Anandgarh (Fort of Bliss) - Gurdwara Qila Anandgarh Sahib is situated in the middle of the town of Anandpur Sahib. It is a newly constructed building though marks of the old, original structure are also still traceable. It was the strongest on the five forts.

During the 1930's, Kartar Singh Kalasvalia built a new Qila which is still intact on top of the hillock. The present Gurdwara, separated from this building by a spacious terrace paved with slabs of streaked marble, is a 15-metre square hall with an 8x3 metre porch in front.

The present Gurdwara building complex was raised during the 1970's by Seva Singh (d. 1982) whose successors are now managing and further developing it. Under the Gurdwara Sahib there is also a sacred Baoli Sahib. It is situated in the south east side of Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib.

The 6-metre square sanctum within the hall has above it a lotus dome topped with a gilded pinnacle and khanda. The entire wall surface has a facing of streaked marble. This building was completed in 1970. The water level of an old baoli, a stepped well 4-metre in diameter, is approached through a covered passage.

The baoli has 135 marbled steps. At the lower levels on the eastern flank of the main building are a spacious hall for Guru ka Langar constructed in 1972, and 300 rooms for pilgrims and administrators.

2. Gurdwara Qila Fatehgarh Sahib

Qila Fatehgarh (Fort of Victory) - When Gurdwara Qila Fatehgarh Sahib was being constructed, Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji was born hence it was named in his honor as Qila Fatehgarh Sahib.

The Gurdwara is a two-storeyed domed building. In front of it is an old well which once served the needs of Fatehgarh Fort.

The present building was constructed during the late 1980's under the supervision of the successors of Seva Singh.

3. Gurdwara Qila Holgarh Sahib

Qila Agamgarh or Holgarh (Fort of Colour) - Gurdwara Qila Holgarh Sahib was the Qila where Guru Gobind Singh introduced in the spring of 1701, the celebration of Hola Mahala on the day following the hindu festival of colour, Holi.

In order to keep Sikhs away from the fake and meaningless rituals of the hindus in which they would throw colour and water, Guru Sahib used to organize competitions of wrestling, sword wielding, arrowshooting, skills at arms in simulated battles, etc.

The fort is about one and a half km north-west of the town across the Charan Gariga rivulet. It was the third strongest fort built by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

Hola or Hola Mahalla, thereafter became an annual event of warlike sports in Anandpur Sahib as long as the Guru stayed there. The observance of Hola Mahalla was revived after the Sikhs had established their rule in Punjab. It is now the biggest festival of Anandpur.

The mahalla or the march on this occasion starts from the Takht Sahib on the concluding day of the week-long festival and ends at Holgarh, where sports like fencing, coil-throwing and tent-pegging are held.

The present building, a three-storeyed octagonal, domed edifice, was constructed under the supervision of Sant Seva Singh and was completed in 1970. The sanctum is in the middle of the marbled ground floor.

4. Gurdwara Qila Lohgarh Sahib

Qila Lohgarh (Fort of Iron) - Gurdwara Qila Lohgarh Sahib was the second strongest Qila after Qila Anandgarh Sahib as it was on southern side of the city. Guru Sahib had set up a factory for manufacturing of arms. The hill armies attacked city Anandpur Sahib many times but were defeated by the Sikhs from this Qila, its gate could not be broken.

It is situated at one and a half kilometre southwest of Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib. The fort was constructed by Guru Gobind Singh to protect the river flank of Anandpur. It was here that Bhai Bachchittar Singh faced and turned back a drunken elephant which the hill chiefs, during their siege of Anandpur in 1700, had sent to batter down the gate of this fort.

5. Gurdwara Qila Taragarh Sahib

Qila Taragarh (Fort of Stars) - Gurdwara Qila Taragarh Sahib is situated on the outskirts of Anandpur Sahib. It is located 5km from Anandpur Sahib and was built to stop the advancing hill armies before they arrived in Anandpur. Qila Taragarh was built on the top of a hill where one could see for miles around.

There was also a baoli (open well with steps leading down to water level) dug to ensure supply of water for the garrison.

Historic Sikh Gurdwaras In Anandpur Sahib


Gurdwara Akal Bunga Sahib

Gurdwara Bhai Jaita

Gurdwara Guru Ka Mehal

Gurdwara Qila Anandgarh Sahib

Gurdwara Qila Fatehgarh Sahib

Gurdwara Qila Holgarh Sahib

Gurdwara Qila Lohgarh Sahib Anandpur

Gurdwara Sri Bhora Sahib Anandpur

Gurdwara Sri Damdama Sahib Anandpur

Gurdwara Sri Manji Sahib Anandpur

Gurdwara Sri Mata Jito

Gurdwara Sri Shaheedi Bagh Sahib

Gurdwara Sri Sis Ganj Sahib Anandpur

Gurdwara Sri Thara Sahib Anandpur

Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib

Gurdwara Guru Ka Mehal was built by Guru Tegh Bahadur for his residence and it was here that sons of Guru Gobjnd Singh were born. Gurdwara Sri Sis Ganj Sahib commemorates the spot where the head of Guru Tegh Bahadur was cremated when it was brought to Anandpur Sahib, after Guru Sahib's martyrdom in Chandni Chowk in 1675.

Besides, Gurdwaras, Anandgarh, Fatehgarh, Holgarh, Lohgarh and Taragarh mark the spots where 5 fortresses built by Guru Gobind Singh once stood, where many pitched battles against mughal and rajput forces took place. Taragarh is located just outside Anandpur Sahib, 5 km's from Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib.

For pilgrims and tourists, a visit to Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Museum is a must. It was set up in the memory of Guru Tegh Bahadur who made the supreme sacrifice for sake of liberation of the oppressed and for the freedom of conscience and belief.

The great saga of Sikh history of this period is full of struggle and sacrifices which are depicted here through the medium of paintings prepared by eminent artists. These paintings are primarily in realistic style covering the most turbulent significant and epoch-making period of the Sikh history.

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