Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gurudwara Katalgarh Sahib

Gurdwara Katalgarh Sahib (Chamkaur Sahib or Gurdwara Qatalgarh), Punjab, India, lies to the west of Gurdwara Garhi Sahib and is the main shrine at Chamkaur Sahib. This Gurdwara marks the site where the fiercest battle took place on 7 December 1704 between the Mughal army and the Sikhs.

During the battle of Chamkaur in 1704, in which the Guru and 40 Sikhs fought against the Mughals, both of Guru Gobind Singh's sons Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh died 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 sons to go to battle, but Guru Gobind Singh declared that all the Sikhs in the fort were his beloved sons.

Guru Gobind Singh watched his two sons achieve eternal peace through martyrdom and prepared himself to follow his sons and attack the Mughal army but his Sikhs passed a resolution that the Guru and the two remaining panj piare should escape under cover of darkness while the remaining Sikhs would hold the fort and delay the attackers. The Guru had to yield to the will of his Sikhs.

The original Gurdwara, constructed by Sardar Hardial Singh of Bela in 1831, was replaced during the 1960's by a new complex. The main building, Mariji Sahib, is an elegant three-storey domed structure standing on a high base. The large divan hall contains an eight meter square sanctum. Another vast hall nearby is called Akal Buriga. It was used for the daily congregations before Mariji Sahib was constructed. To the west of Akal Buriga is the old Baoli Sahib, still in use. The Guru ka Langar, community kitchen, is north of Baoli Sahib and Akal Buriga. The Gurdwara also houses the offices of the local managing committee administering all historical shrines at Chamkaur under the overall control of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). 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 Shahidi Jor Mela is held on 6, 7 and 8 Poh, usually corresponding with 20, 21 and 22 December, commemorating the martyrs of Chamkaur.

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