In this post
- Gurdwaras In Pakistan
- Kartarpur Corridor
- Nankana Sahib
- Gurdwara Panja Sahib
- Gurdwara Dera Sahib
- Gurdwara Rori Sahib
- Gurdwara Kali Devi, Topan Wala
- Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh
Sikhism, a movement and a political ideology that originated in the sub-continent, has strong roots in Pakistan even today. With a shared border that separates India and Pakistan, Sikhism is practiced widely in the Punjabs of both countries. Lahore is considered to be a stronghold for Sikhs, especially for its greatest share of Gurdwaras in Pakistan, and Sikh communities linked to each.
The founder of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak was born in 1469 in Nankana, in what is now Pakistan’s Punjab. Following his footsteps, ten Gurus emerged in Sikhism, whose teachings are greatly followed in Pakistan, and are popular among other religious groupings as well. Apart from hosting the birthplace of the founder of this belief system, Pakistan also has a large number of gurdwaras established by Sikh devotees.
Let’s explore each of these and highlight their significance.
Gurdwaras In Pakistan
Most of the gurdwaras in Pakistan, no matter where they are located, are almost always similar in architectural design and layout. This signifies oneness, unity, and gives a sense of belonging to Sikhs, no matter where they are. Some of the most famous gurdwaras in Pakistan are:
- Kartarpur Corridor
This is a sacred place for Sikhs as the founder of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak developed the first commune here in the year 1504. To cater to the Sikh communities in India and Pakistan, on Nov. 9, 2019, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched this corridor. Under this, the Sikhs coming from India are allowed visa-free entry to Kartarpur, and the motel facilities also allow for them to stay here as well.
This expansive gurdwara has been remodeled and now occupies a space of 330 acres of land, which includes 10 acres for the gurdwara complex, and 36 acres of land for vegetation. It’s also based in a rectangular orientation with a gallery at mid-height that has rooms for the pilgrims. Apart from the central dome room in the courtyard, the entire place is unroofed. The white marbled-gurdwara has four entry points under the four cupolas that are designed intricately with marbled archways. The intricate design patterns resemble Bengali architecture, with domes and arches. Except for the rooms, you will not find pictures of Baba Guru Nanak anywhere in the gurdwara.
2. Nankana Sahib
The Gurdwara of Nankana Sahib is one of the holiest places for Sikhs as it is located in the site where the founder of Sikhism, Baba Guru Nanak dev was born. It is also known as Gurudwara Janam Asthan Sahib, and is located in Nankana city of the district by the same name. Gurdwara Nankana Sahib might be a sacred place for Sikhs, however, it holds sentimental value for people of other beliefs as well who visit the place regularly. Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation of Nankana Sahib University here in October 2019.
Located about 75 kilometers from Lahore, this massive gurdwara’s front is painted in hues of light yellow and is two storeys tall with white domes at the top. These domes spring from a floral base and have inverted lotus symbols from which rises the kalas or ornate finial.
As is typical of most Sikh architecture, the layout of this building is based in a rectangular orientation, with an all-around gallery at midheight. Apart from the entrance and the langar khana (where special food is prepared), the place is unroofed and the floor has white marble flooring which shines in broad daylight.
3. Gurdwara Panja Sahib
This gurdwara is located in Hasan Abdal, in Punjab. As the name implies, it is famous for its hand imprint, which belongs to Guru Nanak. The Gurdwara was named Panja Sahib by Hari Singh Nalwa, a famous Sikh general, who is also believed to have built the first gurdwara here. It is one of the three holiest sites in Sikhism, after Nankana Sahib in Sheikhupura, and the Golden Temple in India. During April, Sikhs from all over the world come here to celebrate the birth of Khalsa, purity.
This is a relatively smaller gurdwara and has the same features, except its boundary wall and the central dome are both equal in height. The domes of this gurdwara are also white, but the walls and raised platforms have red bricks. The central courtyard has white and red marble flooring. This gurdwara is based on a square orientation, while only one entry remains functional.
4. Gurdwara Dera Sahib
Gurdwara Dera Sahib is located in Lahore, right next to the famous Badshahi Mosque, inside the Roshnai gate. This is the place where the fifth Guru of Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev submerged himself in the river Ravi, which ran its course around the Red Fort during Mughal period. The local Sikhs of the area manage this gurdwara, and special permission is required by non-Sikh groups to enter the premises.
As the gurdwara is located right next to the Badshahi Mosque, the intersection of the two speaks of the city’s diversity, inclusivity, and harmony between all religious communities. Against the Mughal red-brick structures, the white marble gurdwara with gold domes breaks the monotony of the Mughal architecture in the area. The opening fortress-like wall is located at an elevation and is high enough to completely shield the inside. The only thing that is visible from behind the tall, white pillars is the central gold dome. This is the main area that has intricately carved marble tiles and a portrait of Baba Guru Nanak. The open floor around the central dome is where people sit and pray. On any given day, you’ll find a large number of devotees here.
5. Gurdwara Rori Sahib
This is located in Eminabad, about 15 kilometres from Gujranwala. This is believed to be the site where Guru Nanak took refuge. Rori means pebbles and comes as no surprise that this is a red-brick gurdwara with the main building three storeys tall, with inverted lotus domes on four sides. This is the entrance but falls on the left side of the gurdwara that opens to a rectangular verandah. At the far end of the gurdwara is a room with a lotus dome and wide circular verandah.
The gurdwara is situated in open, lush green grounds, and in the pre-partition area was particularly famous for its Baisakhi celebrations.
Beyond Punjab, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as well, there are a number of prominent gurdwaras. This is because Peshawar was an integral part of the Sikh Kingdom in the pre-partition period.
6. Gurdwara Kali Devi, Topan Wala
Located in the city of Dera Ismail Khan, on the main road beyond Topan Wala crossroad, is Gurdwara Kali Devi. Legend has it, Guru Nanak visited this site on one of his visits. During that time, this was a temple where Kali Devi was worshipped, however, upon the visit of Guru Nanak, the idol of Kali Devi fell and Baba Guru Nanak converted the temple to a religious site for Sikhs.
This gurdwara is, therefore, much different from others. It doesn’t have any domes or marble flooring and houses a school as well.
7. Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh
Hari Singh Nalwah, a prominent general of Ranjit Singh’s army formed Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh in Peshawar. It is located in Mohalla Jogan Shah Qissa Khawani, near to the famous Namakmandi. At the time of partition, Gurdwara Bhai Joga was closed down, however, the Pakistan Government reopened it in 1980.
Over the years, the Government of Pakistan has done a lot to protect religious sites belonging to minorities. Check out the most famous temples in the country, that are fully operational to this day. All of these efforts have been undertaken to celebrate religious diversity, and pay homage to the rich cultural heritage of the country. Recently, the government launched Al Beruni Radius, a unique policy initiative aimed at reviving religious tourism. It is working to restore and develop heritage sites between Jhelum and that is aimed at reviving religious tourism in the country. The “Heritage Trail” at the ‘Al-Biruni’ point of Jhelum and Takht-e-Bari. A similar tourism trail by the name of Gandhara Trail is now being launched which will cover and reconstruct old Buddhist sites.
It is interesting to see that as the country’s tourism sector expands, so do its reconstruction and restoration efforts. Are you excited to explore Pakistan’s heritage through its historical sites? Write to us at email@example.com. For the latest information on Pakistan, keep checking Pakistan’s largest property blog, Zameen Blog.