Wednesday December 12, 2018

Sikhism in Pakistan: Recalling the Forgotten Treasures of Sikh Heritage

In the Sikh religion, any place where a guru resides or stops by is said to become a sacred place

Shikh pilgrims arriving in Pakistan. (Representational Image). Image source:
  • In the Sikh religion, any place where a guru resides or stops by is said to become a sacred place
  • The religious and cultural history of all gurudwaras around the world are believed to be constructs of miracles or preachings of the Gurus
  • Gurudwaras Chota Nankiana, Patshahi Panjvin, and others have been disastrous results of either continuous exploitation by emperors or national tensions

Sikhism is one delicate bond that holds the two nation- India and Pakistan together, with nearly the same amount of followers on both sides of the border and across the world. While Pakistan is the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev and holds one of the holiest pilgrimage of Sikhism- Sri Nankana Sahib, the article throws light upon some of the gurudwaras that hold immense significance for the community, yet are forgotten treasures of the Sikh heritage.

Gurudwara Chota Nankiana, Distt Lahore Source:
Gurudwara Chota Nankiana, Distt Lahore. Source:

Manga (Pakistan) is a centuries-old town and is the last district of Lahore on the way to Multan. In Lahore’s district of Manga lies a Gurudwara (the Sikh place of worship), burnt down to rubble with only its outer structure still intact. This is the Gurudwara associated with Guru Nanak, the founder and first Guru of Sikhism, said the article.

Around 35 km from the city of Lahore is Gurudwara Chota Nankiana Sahib, which also holds the significance of Guru Hargobind Ji staying here on his return from Nankana Sahib. While 50 acres of this area is land revenue exempted, the building itself is a hollow for it was burnt down during the Partition. It is believed that a few Sikh believers refused to come out of the Gurudwara, and as a result, it was burnt down by the mob.

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However, the building area is now in possession of Late Justice Maulvi Mushtaq who built Aligarh Public school here, and the pond of this gurudwara is now with Pakistan’s Department of Fisheries.

In the Sikh religion, any place where a guru resides or stops by is said to become a sacred place. One of the most significant transboundary is river Ravi, once used to flow through the western boundary of Manga.

The first Sikh Guru, along with his companions Mardana and Bhai Bala, once crossed river Ravi and took a halt at Manga for a while. He would preach wherever he stayed and this is how Gurudwara Chota Nankiana Sahib was later built. The religious and cultural history of all gurudwaras around the world are believed to be constructs of miracles or preachings of the Gurus.

Gurudwara Patshahi Panjvin, Beherwal Source:
Gurudwara Patshahi Panjvin, Beherwal

Few kilometres farther Manga is the village of Beherwal, which is home to Gurudwara Patshahi Panjvin (Panjvin means ‘fifth’ and Patshah refers to Guru). This was immortalised in the name of the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev.

Legend has it that Guru Arjan Dev stopped by this small village on the Lahore-Multan road and requested a disciple to get him some water. The disciple said that the well’s water was brackish and he needed to go to the village to bring water for him. Then the guru performed a miracle that is now a government institute. He turned the well’s water from brackish to sweet by miracle and still exists in Beherwal.

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Gurudwaras Chota Nankiana, Patshahi Panjvin, and many others like these have been disastrous results of either continuous exploitation by emperors or national tensions. It is indeed an alarming situation to rise up and preserve these precious and holy shrines and maintain Sikhism as a non-discriminatory non-institutionalised religion that it is.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.



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The Hindu Temple of Gulyana and Sikh Samadhi in Pakistan

Gulyana, Pakistan

By: Wali Imran (Hindu Council of Australia)

900 years old Gulyana town of about a 50,000 people, just a few kilometers South of Gujar Khan, was raised to the ground once several centuries ago, by raiders from the West. The second time it was destroyed during the 1947 partition riots.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Before 1947, the Gulyana town center was mostly Hindu and Sikh. The Hindus and Sikh owned all the businesses in the town center and Muslims were their tenants, peasants and laborers. Muslims sold their lands to pay off their debts and also handed over their crop of wheat. The Dewan, Dutt, Mohyal Brahmin, and Singh families were always part of royal elite.

Bollywood Star Sanjay Dutt is from the same branch of warrior Brahmin Dutt and belongs to the same place.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Land owners were guaranteed protection from military’s presence in Gujar Khan from the North and a rivulet from the south. This land produced sheer gold and wealthy Sikhs and Hindus lived like kings in mansions make of stone, several storey high.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Bakshi Tek Chand, Dewan Prithvi Chand Dutt, Bakshi Moti Ram and Tara Singh were the dominant names of those times.  They built temples, dug up wells for the 30-50 kanal holdings each and distributed these lands amongst their permanent serfs. They did however, treat their serfs with respect and gave them a good share of the crop — what do you expect from absentee landlords.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The Sikh had a timber business. Logs from Kashmir valley were dumped into Jhelum River and recovered downstream near Jhelum city to be sold at Gujar Khan.

The Hindus were mostly traders, money lenders and retailers.

Gulyana, Pakistan

Muslims were mostly illiterate and poor and were destined to stay that way considering the only quality boarding school in nearby Gujar Khan had 95% non-muslim attendance.

During the 1947 riots, one Sikh Bali Singh and one Hindu Lady Banto were killed in the riots but the rest were whisked away with their gold, in the safety of Gorkha soldiers. The Muslim riot crowd burnt to the ground the several symbols of oppression and got rich in the process, during the looting.

One Hindu tehsildar had the magistrate’s powers to jail someone for 6 months.

Gulyana, Pakistan

When the British left suddenly in 1947, the carefully crafted social experiment in native subjugation came crumbling down within days.

Otherwise, one 100 years old resident of Gulyana tells me, “the Hindus and Sikh were very friendly towards the Muslims, their women played around with the boys, molvi were not trouble makers then; they cared about their serfs and neighbors’, built schools, hospitals and wells for the general public. No Muslim was allowed into their kitchen however. Balraj, Sita, Beera, Ramu Shikari, Gujrati, Peecha Singh, Mangat Singh, Jawals Singh, Raab Singh, Gurdyal, were the well-known Hindus and Labbu, Gurra, Jagdev, Santa, Paacha, Chatru were the known Sikh of the time. One Tek Chand Never left for India and embraced Islam. His wife and three sons left for India. Tek Chand married a Muslim lady and had seven children. They are all in poverty now. Several of the old mansion, one dhramsala, one temple, several bowlis (watering hole) have been lost to time.

Gulyana, Pakistan

The surrounding farms around Gulyana were refreshing. The old styled spoke wells, Sikh Samadhi, Hindu temple and 100 years old Gujarati’s mansion still survives.Gulyana, Pakistan

I went into the temple inner sanctum and saw the most beautiful frescos of mixed Hindu and Sikh religious figures like hanuman, Krishna, Sita, Baba Guru Nanak, Bala, Mardana, etc.

Gulyana, Pakistan


Pakistan government build a dam 5 km upstream, called the Ugahaun; it’s a lovely place to fish and boat around.

The union council in 1947 had more financial powers than it does today.

In short, all the entrepreneurs, educators, administrator, jurisprudence people, revenue people, land record people and large scale farmers left in 1947.

Gulyana, Pakistan

I am astonished how Pakistan survived with an illiterate mass of people, steeped in poverty — traumatized by exploitation and mass killings.

Other interesting places in Potohar region are:

Also Read: Protecting The World, The Hindu Way

Bedi Mahal, Pharwala fort, Malot fort, Sangini fort, Rawat fort and Mankial Stupa. (Hindu Council of Australia)