Translating to ‘Gateway to Guru’, Gurdwaras keep their doors open to people of all faiths and religions. A visit to one of these Gurdwaras in India will not only render spiritual comfort but also offer an insight into some of the cleanest and most well-managed places of worship in the country. By Ritika Dixit
1. Gurudwara Hari Mandir Sahib, Punjab
Guru Arjan laid the foundation stone of this sacred shrine at Amritsar in 1588. Since then, Gurdwara Hari Mandir Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, has been revered as one of the most sacred places of Sikhism in India. The upper floors of the Gurdwara are covered in sheets of gold, while the four entrances to the Gurdwara are symbolic of the Sikhs’ acceptance of people from all walks of life. It’s also home to a sacred Sarovar for devotees who wish to take a holy dip at this place of religious importance. Not just religion, the Gurdwara also bears several memorial items from the rich past of Sikhism including commemorative inscriptions of the Sikh soldiers who were martyred in World War I and II.
2. Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Bihar
Also referred to as Takht Shri Hari Mandir Sahib, this Gurdwara was constructed in the 18th century on the instructions of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. This Gurdwara is one of the five Takhts or the highest seats of religious authority for the Sikhs. It was built to commemorate the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, the last of the Sikh gurus. He also spent many years of his life at the place. This shrine was also honoured by the visits of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Tegh Bahadur. There is a museum within the complex, with its most prized possession being the gilded cradle of Guru Gobind Singh. The book of Hukamnamas by Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh is also preserved at this holy site.
3. Gurdwara Hemkund Sahib, Uttarakhand
Situated at an altitude of 4,632 meters above sea level in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, Hemkund Sahib is surrounded by the picturesque Himalayan peaks with a divine glacial lake in front. This star-shaped Gurdwara is dedicated to the memory of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th and last Guru of the Sikhs. According to the autobiography of Guru Gobind Singh, this was the spot that was used by him as the meditation place during his former birth. The Gurdwara is an exhibit of excellent architecture. Do note that the Gurdwara remains inaccessible between the months of October and April. Hemkund Sahib redefines spirituality in the lap of nature.
4. Gurdwara Baba Atal Sahib, Punjab
This sacred shrine was built between the years 1778 to 1784 to commemorate the early death of the son of Guru Har Gobind Singh, Baba Atal who died at the young age of nine. The site where he renounced the world is the exact location of the Gurdwara. Often overshadowed by the extreme popularity of the Golden Temple, Gurdwara Baba Atal Sahib is one of its kind Gurdwara with architecture that differs from all other Sikh places of worship. The sacred shrine is a nine-storied tower with four doors on the ground floor, one on each of the cardinal sides, the main entrance faces east. The Guru Granth Sahib is kept enshrined in an exquisitely wrought brass canopy surmounted by an intricate chhatri within the interior octagonal elevation.
5. Takht Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Gurdwara, Maharashtra
One of the five Takhts in Sikhism, Takht Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Gurdwara is situated in Nanded. This is the place where the last Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh breathed his last and the guru-ship was passed on from him to the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the holy text of Sikhism. The Gurdwara was constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, leader of the Sikh empire. The dome of the Gurdwara is gold-plated with an exquisite kalash on top. Five swords and a shield studded with beautiful stones and many other artefacts belonging to Guru Gobind Singh are well-preserved in a room called Bunga Mai Bhago. A laser dancing fountain show takes place every evening, voiced by Jagjit Singh, which takes the viewers through the journey of the lives of all 10 Sikh gurus.