Dera Baba Nanak



Dera Baba Nanak is a small city located in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab, India. The city lies at a distance of about 1 km from the India – Pakistan border. Considered one of the most sacred cities of the Sikhs, it is situated on the banks of the river Ravi. The city gets its name from Guru Nanak Dev, the first of the Sikh gurus.

Descendants of Guru Nanak Dev, the Bedis, constructed a new town and named it Dera Baba Nanak in honour of their great ancestor, the Sikh guru. Dera Baba Nanak is a town deeply soaked in history. Many of the buildings in this town can be dated back to the life and times of Guru Nanak Dev and have been preserved in their original form by the locals. An important place of pilgrimage for those who practice Sikhism, the town is littered with Sikh temples.

It is believed that Guru Nanak Dev settled and spent his last days in the nearby village of Kartarpur that now lies across the border in Pakistan. The Gurudwara Sahib of Kartarpur, in Pakistan can be easily seen from this side of the border and pilgrims come in large numbers to Dera Baba Nanak for this view.

Another Gurudwara Sri Darbar Sahib was constructed by his devotees at Dera Baba Nanak to perpetuate his memory. He came here after his first Udasi (tour) on December 1515 AD to see the members of his family. His wife Mata Sulakkhani and his two sons Sri Chand and Lakhmi Chand had come to stay here in their maternal home at Pakho-Ke-Randhawa, near Dera Baba Nanak, where Lala Mool Raj, father–in–law of Guru Nanak was working as Patwari.

As one enters the gurudwara, one is greeted with a stunning golden dome or “gumbad” that adorns the top of the structure. This dome was financed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh Ji and adds to the glory of the holy site. The entire gurudwara is covered in white marble slabs, a symbol of the pure and holy nature of the place. The two storey building comprises of a larger hall at ground level that houses a stage on which Guru Nanak Dev is believed to have had a discussion with Ajita Randhawa.

The upper story of the building is bordered by a pavilion on all sides with small octagonal domes marking every corner of the gurudwara. Each of these domes has arched sun windows on all four sides and copper spires on top.

The “Kirtan Asthan”, is a rectangular hall, which marks the site where Guru Arjan had sat rapt in Kirtan when visiting Dera Baba Nanak for condolence on the death of Baba Dharam Das. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated in the hall.

The central shrine is called Thara sahib. This marks the ‘thara’ or platform, on which Guru Nanak had sat when he first came to Ajitta’s well and where, later; Baba Sri Chand buried his father’s ashes. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated here in a small square pavilion with a pinnacled lotus dome under an overhanging gilded canopy. The whole pavilion is covered with gold-plated metal sheets with some of the hymns of Guru Nanak embossed on them.

The main gurudwara is surrounded on all four sides by a carefully manicured garden that adds to the sense of peace that the structure gives to the visitors. Pilgrims belonging to the Sikh religion come in large numbers to pay their respects at this historical and holy site.

The well which originally belonged to Bhai Ajitta Randhava still exists and is reverently called Sarji Sahib. Pilgrims take its water home in the belief that it possesses curative properties.

The Gurdwara is administered by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee through a local committee. Special divans take place on every amavasya, the last day of the dark half of the lunar month, and all major anniversaries, especially the one marking the death of Guru Nanak, are observed. But the most important annual event is the fair celebrating the Baisakhi festival.

A handwritten copy of the Guru Granth Sahib is preserved in this Gurdwara. It has 1660 pages, each page having a handsomely illuminated border.

Shri chola sahib 

Gurdwara Langar Mandir Chola Sahib, in the eastern part of the town, is connected with a relic a chola, or cloak, believed to have been presented to Guru Nanak by a Muslim devotee at Baghdad. The chola, bearing some Qura’nic verses and Arabic numerals, arranged in the form of charms embroidered on it, was procured from Baghdad by Baba Kabali Mall, a descendant of Guru Nanak, it is said.

It was brought to Dera Baba Nanak on 1 March 1828. A special shrine was constructed where the Chola Sahib was kept and where it was put on display at the time of a fair held from 21 to 23 Phagun, early March, every year. From the Guru ka Langar which serves the pilgrims, the shrine has come to be known as Gurdwara Langar Mandir Chola Sahib. It was under private management of the resident descendants of Guru Nanak. As the Gurdwara reform movement got under way, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee claimed possession of the shrine, but the owners resisted. In the end, the control of the Gurdwara passed to the Committee, but Chola Sahib, the relic, remained with the family. It is now displayed in a glass case in a private house, about 50 metres from the Gurdwara, attended in rotation by three Bedi families living there.

A Three day annual fair and Guru ka Langar are held as usual in the adjoining compound. The Gurdwara compound also has within it the samadhi of Baba Kabali Mall and an octagon shaped old well. The local belief is that the water of this well cures women whose offspring die during infancy.



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