Gurdwaras and Sacred Shrines of Sikh History

Historic Gurdwaras and Ancient Sikh Shrines

Gurdwara is the proper name for a Sikh place of worship or commemorative sacred shrine. Ancient gurdwaras and sacred shrines commemorate significant events in the lives of the ten gurus of Sikhism. Many of these sacred places have been built over the centuries. Most ancient sites and holy places sacred to Sikhism are in the part of Pakistan and India which what used to be known as the Punjab prior to partition.

Golden Temple Harmandir Sahib and Akal Takhat
Golden Temple Harmandir Sahib and Akal Takhat. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

The historic supreme seats of temporal power, and religious authority, are known as the Panj Takhat, or five thrones of Sikhism:

  1. Takhat Sri Kes Ghar Sahib
  2. Sri Akal Takhat Sahib
  3. Takhat Sri Sach Khand Hazoor Sahib
  4. Takhat Sri Harmandir Sahib
  5. Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib
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Nankana Gurdwara Maal Ji Sahib
Nankana Gurdwara Maal Ji Sahib. Photo © [S Khalsa]

Nankana Pakistan is the hometown of Guru Nanak. There are a number of commemorative gurdwaras which mark his birthplace and the sacred sites where miraculous events occurred during his childhood.

    Modern Nanakana is the site of an annual gurpurab full moon fall festival commemorating Guru Nanak's birth. More »

    Goindwal Baoli The Well of 84 Steps
    Goindwal Baoli The Well of 84 Steps. Photo © [Jasleen Kaur]

    Baoli is a word meaning well. Goindwal Baoli commemorates the site marking the "Well of 84 Steps," constructed in the 16th century by Guru Amar Das. Pilgrims perform prayers on the 84 steps in hopes that their soul may be liberated from the transmigration of 8.4 million life forms. 

    • Goindwal Baoli Well of 84 Steps
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    Sarovar Amritsar Surrounding Golden Temple Harmandir Sahib and Akal Takhat
    Sarovar Amritsar Surrounding Golden Temple Harmandir Sahib and Akal Takhat. Photo © [Gurumustuk Singh Khalsa]

    Harmandir Sahib the central gurdwara, or worship place, for all Sikhs is known as the Golden Temple because it is constructed of marble and gold. Harmandir Sahib has a history dating back to Bibi Bhani, the daughter of Third Guru Amar Das, and bride of Fourth Guru Raam Das and their son, Fifth Guru Arjun Dev. The gurdwara is located in Amritsar India and is also the site of The Akal Takhat seat of religious authority in Sikhism. Over the centuries the gurdwara has attacked and restored a number of times.

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    Takhat Harmandir Sahib in Patna
    Takhat Harmandir Sahib in Patna. Photo © [Devesh Bhatta - Courtesty GNU Free Documentation License]

    Patna is home to five historic gurdwaras built on ancient sites significant to Sikhism dedicated to Guru Nanak, Guru Teg Bahadur and the childhood of Guru Gobind Singh.

    • Gurdwara Pahila Bari aka Gurdwara Gae Ghat (Travels of Guru Nanak)
    • Takhat Sri Harmandir Sahib (Birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh)
    • Gurudara Bal Lila Maini Sangat (Home of Rani who fed the child Gobind Rai)
    • Gurdwara Sri Gobind Singh Ghat (Where Gobind Rai played as a child)
    • Ghat Gurdwara Guru ka Bagh (Relics of Gobind Rai)
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    Located about 12 or so miles from Patna, Gurdwara Handi Sahib or Daanpur, Bihar, commemorates the devotion of Mai ji, an elderly woman who prepared Khichri (khichdi) from her own meager stores to feed Prince Gobind Rai and his entire family. The tradition of preparing Khichri is continued by the gurdwara. More »

    Chamkaur Sahib is the site of famous battles fought by Sikhs against Mughals troupes. Six historic shrines and gurdwaras commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh's sons and warriors.

    • Gurdwara Ranjit Ghar
    • Gurdwara Damdama Sahib
    • Gurudwara Ghari Sahib
    • Gurdwara Qatalghar Sahib (Shahid Ganj)
    • Gurudwara Shahid Burj Bhai Jivan Singh
    • Gurdwara Tari Sahib
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    Five gurdwaras commemorate the battle fought at Muktsar by the martyred 40 liberated ones known as Chali Mukte.

    • Gurdwara Tambu Sahib
    • Gurdwara Tibbi Sahib
    • Gurdwara Rakabsar Sahib
    • Sri Darbar Sahib Muktsar
    • Gurdwara Shahidganj Sahib
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    At least two sacred shrines commemorate the fearless warrior princess Mai Bhago who led the 40 liberated ones into battle along side Guru Gobind Singh.

    • Bunga Mai Bhago
    • Gurdwara Tap Asthan
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    Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara Exterior
    Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara Exterior. Photo © [ Courtesey S. Harpreet Singh Hpt_Lucky SikhiWiki]

    Bhai Joga Singh Gurdwara commemorates the memory of an unusual event when Joga Singh overcame temptation of a dancing girl on his wedding night after being called away from his bridal bed by Guru Godbind Singh.

    • Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh of Peshawar
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