Gurdwara Bangla Sahib is the most prominent Sikh gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship situated in the heart of New Delhi's famous Connaught Place in the Capital city of India. It is located on the eastern side of the intersection of Ashok Road and Baba Kharag Singh Marg. It is instantly recognisable by its stunning golden dome and tall flagpole called the Nishan Sahib.
This sacred shrine has association with the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Har Krishan, and the the pool inside its complex, known as the "Sarovar", is considered holy by Sikhs and is known as "Amrit". The building was built by Sikh General, Sardar Bhagel Singh in 1783, who supervised the construction of nine Sikh shrines in Delhi in the same year, during the reign of Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II.
Originally this place was the Bungalow ("haveli" or "bangla") of Mirza Raja Jai Singh, hence the name "Bangla Sahib". It's original name was Jaisinghpura Palace. A Rajput, Mirza Raja Jai Singh, was one of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb's most important military leaders and a trusted member of his Darbar (Court).
After the passing away of Guru Har Rai the seventh Sikh Guru, Ram Rai who was the eldest son of the seventh Master and his masands (masand is derived from Arabic word masnad, meaning delegating authority of the sovereign) instigated Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb to issue a decree summoning Guru Harkrishan to his court. Ram Rai was elder brother of Guru Harkrishan.
Guru Harkrishan decided to go to Delhi since he felt that the "sangat", his followers had been misguided and he saw an opportunity in this to clear their misunderstandings. Meanwhile Sikhs of Delhi approached Mirza Raja Jai Singh, a strong devotee of Sikh Gurus to prevent any harm coming to Guru Harkrishan either by Aurangzeb or by the masands of Ram Rai.
When Ram Rai learned that Guru Harkrishan had accepted the summons to appear before Aurangzeb at his court at Delhi, he started rejoicing since Guru Harkrishan had taken a vow not to appear before Aurangzeb. So if Guru Harkrishan came to Delhi and refused to meet Aurangzeb then definitely he would be arrested and suffer humiliation. Now Ram Rai felt that this act of Guru Harkrishan will surely lower his prestige among his followers and would pave the way for Ram Rai to declare himself as the true successor of Guru Har Rai.
Mirza Raja Jai Singh had made elaborate arrangements to receive Guru Harkrishan. Guru Harkrishan was received on the outskirts of Delhi like a royal guest of honor. Guru Harkrishan was accompanied by prominent Sikhs from his darbar and his mother Mata Sulakhni.
A magnificent and spacious bungalow in Delhi owned by Raja Jai Singh of Amber (Jaipur) who commanded great respect and honour in the court of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb now enjoys the status of a holy shrine called Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. The eighth Guru Sri Harkishan had stayed here for a few months as a guest of Raja Jai Singh. Since then it has become a place of pilgrimage for both Hindus and Sikhs. They come to pay their respects to the memory of Guru Harkrishan who, nominated as successor by the seventh Guru Sri Har Rai, was summoned to Delhi by Emperor Aurangzeb in a furtive attempt by his older brother Baba Ram Rai to grab the Gurugadi. Earlier Baba Ram Rai had disgraced himself by giving a false translation of Bani to appease the Emperor. For this he had been disowned by his father and rewarded by Aurangzeb.
Learning that Har Krishan had been appointed the spiritual head of the Sikhs, Baba Ram Rai became very perturbed. He tried in vain to influence the leading Sikhs of Delhi and Punjab. Later he approached Emperor Aurangzeb, who had befriended him, to help him acquire the Gurugadi. Consequently, Aurangzeb agreed to summon Guru Harkrishan to see whether he was really superior and more spiritual than Ram Rai.
Fortunately both Raja Jai Singh and his son Raja Ram Singh were in Delhi at that time. When approached by Sikhs for help, they agreed to assist them in their predicament.
The Rajput chief took over the responsibility of persuading Guru Harkrishan to come to Delhi and also gained assurance from the Emperor that as long as he (the Emperor) was not satisfied about the succession issue, Guru Harkrishan Sahib could stay with Jai Singh and his son in his bungalow as a guest.
During Guru Harkrishan's stay in Delhi there was a terrible epidemic of cholera and smallpox. Rather than staying in the safety of Jai Singh's home the Guru spent most of his time in serving the humble, the sick and the destitute. He distributed medicines, food and clothes to the needy. He also directed Diwan Dargah Mal to spend all of the daily offerings made by the people to the Guru on the poor. The Guru won more admirers. Soon stories about his healing powers spread throughout the city. Contracting smallpox himself the young Guru, only a little over five years old, passed away on October 6, 1661. He had been tried and tested as a perfect fearless and fully illuminated soul.
A small tank was constructed by Raja Jai Singh over the bungalow's well. Today, the faithful continue to come to the well and take its water home, as amrit, to cure their ailments. The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee runs a hospital in the basement of the Gurudwara building and the Khalsa Girls School is located in the adjoining building. A tank 225 x 235 ft with 18 ft wide Parikarma and 12 ft wide varandah along its three sides has been constructed entirely with people's selfless contributions of funds and voluntary labour.
The Art Gallery located in the basement of the Gurdwara is also very popular with visitors. They express keen interest in the paintings depicting historical events connected with Sikh history. The gallery is named after the Sikh General Sardar Bhagel Singh who supervised the construction of nine Sikh shrines in Delhi in 1783 during the time of Shah Alam II.
Connaught Place, New Delhi, DELHI, INDIA
Posted By : Vinod Jindal on Apr 02, 2012