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Anandpur Sahib

Anandpur Sahib
is a city in Rupnagar district in the state of Punjab, India. Known as "the holy City of Bliss," it is a holy city of the Sikhs and is one of their most important sacred places, closely linked with their religious traditions and history. It is located on the lower spurs of the Himalayas surrounded by picturesque natural scenery, with the river Sutlej forming a shimmering and shiny blue border on the south west barely four miles away.

Anandpur Sahib was founded during the year 1665 by the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur, near the ruins of an ancient place, Makhowal. On May 13, 1665, Guru Tegh Bahadur went to Bilaspur to attend the mourning for Raja Dip Chand of Bilaspur State. The Dowager Rani Champa of Bilaspur offered to give the Guru a piece of land in her state. The Guru bought the site on payment of five hundred rupees. The land consisted of the villages of Lodhipur, Mianpur and Sahota. Here on the mound of Makhowal, Guru Tegh Bahadur raised a new habitation. The ground was broken on 19 June 1665, by Baba Gurditta Randhawa. The new village was named Chakk Nanaki after the Guru's mother, Nanaki. The place later came to be known as Anandpur Sahib.

Festivals and Fairs 
Anandpur Sahib comes to life every year on the occasion of Hola Mohalla. This tradition dates back to the times of the 10th Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh . The Guru decreed that the occasion of the festival of Holi be the occasion for the display of the martial spirit of his people and he gave this festival of Holi the Sikh name of 'Hola Mohalla'. Each year Hola Mohalla marks the congregation of up to 100,000 devotees from all over the country for a festival of colour and gaiety.

Thousands of devotees from various parts of the country throng to Anandpur Sahib to participate in the fair which lasts for three days. The Gurudwaras are specially decorated for the occasion. During Hola Mohalla Anandpur Sahib wears a festive appearance and hums with activities in the month of March every year. Community conferences and religious functions are also organized. On this occasion, Nihangs (picture on left) from all over the country gather for the celebrations of the Hola Mohalla.
The highlight of the festival 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 Gurudwara Anandgarh Sahib, and passing through the bazar goes to village Agampur and reaches the fort of Holgarh, the place where Guru Gobind Singh used to celebrate this fair. Thereafter, the procession proceeds to the sandy bed of Charan Ganga, where demonstration of martial games (picture on right) including riding, tent pegging, sword wielding etc. are witmessed by a large number of people.

Baisakhi in 1999, at Anandpur Sahib marked the completion of 300 years of the birth of the Khalsa. It was on Baisakhi day in 1699 that Sri Guru Gobind Singh baptised the Panj Pyaras at the place where Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib stands today.

Gurudwara Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib: In 1699, on the occasion of the festival of Baisakhi, Guru Nanak's mission was fulfilled by the 10th Guru when, through baptism of the double-edged-sword the Sikh was deemed as the Khalsa-Saint Soldier- in direct commune with the Guru and God. Still more astonishing is the fact that the Guru had got himself baptised by the Panj-Pyaras, the five beloved ones, who had offered him their heads to uphold Dharma - the moral duty and religion.
  • Gurudwara Sisganj Sahib: In November of 1675, the head of the martyred 9th Guru which was brought by Bhai Jaita ( Rechristened Bhai Jivan Singh according to Sikh rites) in defiance of the Mughal authorities was cremated here.
  • Gurudwara Bhora Sahib: Residence of Sri Guru Teg Bahadur, the 9th guru, which was inherited by Sri Guru Gobind Singh. The sahibzadas - the holy sons of the 10th Guru were born here. There is an underground room cut off from the din of life where the 9th Guru used to meditate.
  • Gurudwara Thara Sahib: The 9th Guru used to deliver sermons from this Gurudwara. There is a marker to indicate the spot where the Kashmiri Brahmins came to seek protection from the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. They were forcibly being asked to adopt Islam as their Religion.
  • Gurudwara Akal Bunga Sahib: After cremation of the holy head of his father, followed by a prayer to the Almighty, the 10th Guru had rested here with his relations and followers.
  • Gurudwara Damdama Sahib: The 10th Guru was given the Guru Gaddi (seat of Sikh religious leadership), here. It was from here that he had declared the end of the institution of the Masands-the priestly agents of the former Gurus.
  • Gurudwara Manji Sahib: The Sahibzadas received their education and military training at this spot. Military exercises were also rehearsed here.
The Five Forts of Sri Govind Singh ji
10th Sikh Guru Guru Gobind Singh Ji made five forts on the border of the city to protect it from the external invasions. The fort is called Qila (in the Punjabi and Hindi languages). 
  • Qila Anandgarh Sahib: This was the main fort, after which the city was also named Anandpur Sahib. The Army once resided here.
  • Qila Holgarh Sahib
  • Qila Lohgarh Sahib: Here the weapons for the Army were made.
  • Qila Fatehgarh Sahib
  • Qila Taragarh Sahib
Sacred sites near Anandpur Sahib
  • Guru-Ka-Lahore: It is situated about 11 km on Sri Anandpur Sahib-Ganguwal route leading to the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. On 25 January, 1686, the 10th Guru's wedding to Mata was celebrated here. Two trickling springs, claimed to be dug out from the stony mountain-side by the 10th Guru, still exist today.
  • Gurudwara Mata Jito Ji : Not far from Holgarh Fort, this Gurudwara was where Mata Jito Ji was cremated.
  • Bhai Ghanaiya : Bhai Ghanaiya offered first aid to friendly and enemy forces alike across the area spanning the now-almost dried up rivulet Charan Ganga and below the Taragarh hill. His unbiased service has been compared to the functions of the Red Cross.
  • Naina Devi Mandir : This Mandir is a sacred site for Hindus. A good number of devotees come here in the month of saavan on Navratras.

Contributed by: Mohinder Pal Singh 
City: Kolkata
Country: India
Date: May 5, 2010