In the 15th century a religion emerged in India that spoke about equality, bravery and generosity. Sikhism, founded by the humble saint Guru Nanak, proved to be one of the most powerful religions in the history of India. Gurdwara is the religious place for Sikhs. The word Gurdwara stands for “guru – dwara” which means through or by means of guru and can also be called “the gateway to guru”. A Gurdwara always keeps its doors open for people of all religions and faiths. The objective is to find inner peace and unite with the Holy Spirit i.e. with god and the guru helps in this process of unison and achieving peace. All Gurdwaras have the holy book of Sikhs “Guru Granth Sahib Ji” placed in it which is the current guru of the Sikh religion. The origin of Sikhism and Gurdwaras started from the holy city of Amritsar, Punjab and now there are a large number of Gurdwaras all over the world where people of all religions visit and worship. Here is a list of the 12 most famous gurudwaras in world .
1. SRI HARMANDIR SAHIB : SRI HARMANDIR SAHIB ( THE GOLDEN TEMPLE ), Amritsar, India is not only a central religious place of the Sikhs, but also a symbol of human brotherhood and equality. Everybody, irrespective of cast, creed or race can seek spiritual solace and religious fulfillment without any hindrance. As advised by Sri Guru Amar Dass Ji (3rd Sikh Guru), Sri Guru Ram Dass Ji (4th Sikh Guru) started the digging of Amrit Sarovar of Sri Harmandir Sahib in 1577 A.D., which was later on brick-lined by Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji (5th Sikh Guru) on December 15, 1588 and He also started the construction of Sri Harmandir Sahib. Sri Guru Granth Sahib (scripture of the Sikhs), after its compilation, was first installed at Sri Harmandir Sahib on August 16, 1604 A.D. A devout Sikh, Baba Budha Ji was appointed its first Head Priest. Sri Harmandir Sahib has a unique Sikh architecture. Built at a level lower than the surrounding land level, The Gurudwara teaches the lesson of egalitarianism and humility. The four entrances of this holy shrine from all four directions, signify that people belonging to every walk of life are equally welcome.
2. GURDWARA SRI HEMKUND SAHIB : GURDWARA SRI HEMKUND SAHIB is Situated at a height of over 15,000 feet above the sea level in the Himalayan ranges of northern India. Sri Hemkunt Sahib has emerged as a popular center of Sikh Pilgrimage which is visited by thousands of devotees from all over the world every summer. According to Bachitra Natak, the autobiographical account of the tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, it was at Hemkunt “adorned with seven snow peaks” that he meditated in his previous birth. As Guru Gobind Singh had mentioned, the place of his previous incarnation in his auto-biography, many sikh scholars tried very hard to locate the exact place. In this field the names of Sant Sohan Singh, Hawaidar Moan Singh, Sant Thandi Singh and Sant Surat Singh are taken with great respect. They dedicated their whole life to locate the exact place in order to construct the Gurdwara Hemkunt Sahib.
3. GURDWARA SRI KESHGARH SAHIB : GURUDWARA SHRI KESGARH SAHIB is situated in the central place of city ANANDPUR SAHIB. It is also known as TAKHT SHRI KESGARH SAHIB. This city was founded by ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji and is a home to many Gurdwaras. Gurdwara Sri Keshgarh Sahib is famous and of great importance sine it is also one of the five Takhats and a seat of authority for the Sikhs. Its foundation stone was laid on March 30, 1689. In fact, It was here that the Khalsa was born with the first initiation of Khande Di Pahul, when the young Guru called for a special congregation on the Baisakhi day of 1699 with thousands of Sikhs in attendance.
4. GURDWARA BANGLA SAHIB : GURDWARA BANGLA SAHIB is situated in the heart of New Delhi’s Cannaught Place area. It is loacted on the east side intersection of Ashok Road and Baba Kharag Singh Marg. Originally this place was the Bungalow (haveli) of Mirza Raja Jai Singh, hence the name Bangla Sahib. The word “Bangla” means palace and here it refers to the palace of Raja Jai Singh in which the eighth Sikh Guru, Guru Harkrishan Sahib Ji stayed while on his visit to Delhi in 1664. He cured diseases like small pox, chicken pox and cholera which were an epidemic those days with sacred water. That water now forms a “sarovar” which is present in the centre of the Gurdwara and people take a dip in it to remove all bodily and mental dirt. There is also a famous museum in this Gurdwara which depicts the great Sikh history.
5. GURDWARA BER SAHIB : GURDWARA BER SAHIB is located in Sultanpur Lodhi in the district of Kapurthala in Punjab. It is situated at convenient distance from both Jalandhar and Amritsar, which are nearly 36 km and 60 km respectively. This Gurudwara occupies a prominent place among the various places of worship of Sikhs as it is associated with Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh religion. It is believed that Guru Nanak Dev got enlightenment here and composed Sukhmani Sahib. One day Guru Nanak went for bathing in the river Bein, early in the morning and vanished in the waters of the river. He returned after three days after his communion with God. After returning from his Holy Communion, he was the enlightened Guru, who took the mission to preach and spread the religion of Sikhism. Guru Nanak Dev, had planted a seedling of Ber or jujube tree. The seedling planted by Guru Nanak can be seen even today which has grown into a large tree.
6. GURDWARA MANIKARAN : GURDWARA MANIKARAN is located in the Parvati Valley along the banks of river Parvati, northeast of Bhuntar in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. It is at an altitude of 1760 m and is located about 40 km from Bhuntar. The Gurdwara Manikaran Sahib is known for its lovely scenic beauty as it is situated in the mountains of Manali. Historically the Gurdwara has enough signifance as the first Guru, Guru Nanak Dev Ji is known to have first visited this place in 1574 along with his disciples Bhai Mardana and Bhai Bala. This place is considered as the first place where Guru Nanak Dev Ji meditated through his journey and he is also known to perform few miracles over here.
7. GURDWARA SRI GURU SINGH SABHA : GURDWARA SRI GURU SINGH SABHA SOUTHHALL is a Sikh Gurdwara situated in the London suburb of Southall on Havelock Road and Park Avenue. It is the largest Sikh temple in London . It is known to be built in 2003 by Sikh immigrants who left India in fifties and sixties and got settled in England. One of the main objectives behind building this Gurdwara was to prevent the decline of Sikhism among the Sikhs in England. Europe’s biggest Sikh temple, finished in marble and granite with a gilded dome and stained glass windows. The temple can accommodate up to 3,000 worshippers in the first-floor prayer hall and second-floor gallery, there is also a community center with a library and dining hall.
8.TAKHT SRI PATNA SAHIB : TAKHT SRI PATNA SAHIB is a Gurdwara in the neighborhood of Patna Sahib, Bihar, India. It was built in remembrance of the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs on 22 December 1666. It was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, who also built many other Gurdwara’s in India and Pakistan. Gurudwara Patna Sahib is regarded as the centre for propagating Sikhism in the east. As history would have it, Takht Sri Patna Sahib is the second accepted and acknowledged Takht of the Sikhs. Some relics of the tenth Guru are also preserved in Patna Sahib. Among them is a pangura (cradle) with four stands covered with Golden plates. Guruji during his childhood used to sleep in this cradle. Moreover, four iron arrows, sacred sword of the Master and a pair of his sandals are also preserved. Hukamnamas of Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Tegh Bahadur contained in a book are also kept in this holy Gurudwara.
9. GURDWARA BHATTA SAHIB : GURDWARA BHATTA SAHIB is situated in village Kotla Nihang on Ropar Chandigarh Road. It is 3 km. from the Ropar Railway Station and 40 km. from Anandpur Sahib. Gurdwara Bhatta Sahib is a historical Gurdwara where Guru Gobind Singh came four times. Guru ji came here for the first time in 1745 . History tells that when the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji was returning from Anandpur after winning the battle of Bhangani in 1745, he visited this place and asked the labourers working over there for a place to rest. Since there was no other place, the labourers pointed towards a burning kiln. When Guru Ji took his horse over that place, the red hot brick kiln cooled down like it welcomed the Guru. To commemorate this visit, Gurdwara Bhatta Sahib was constructed.
10. SRI GURU TEGH BAHADUR SAHIB GURDWARA : SRI GURU TEGH BAHADUR SAHIB GURDWARA is situated in the heart of the Dhubri Town on the bank of the mighty Brahmaputra river in far north-east India in the state of Assam. Guru Nanak the first Sikh Guru visited this place in 1505 and met Srimanta Sankardeva (the founder of the Mahapuruxiya Dharma) as the Guru travelled from Dhaka to Assam. The white structure of Gurudwara provides a beautiful look to it with the simple architecture. The entrance is adorned with a gateway followed by a number of stairs painted red in color. They lead to the open courtyard where from one can enter the sanctum of Darbar Sahib. This historic shrine, Sri Gurdwara Guru Tegh Bahadur or Damdama Sahib at Dhubri in Assam was built in memory of the visit of Guru Nanak. Hence it has great importance for Sikh community. Guru Tegh Bahadur established this Gurdwara during his 17th century visit to the area. Devotees from different religion from all over India and abroad assembled in this Gurudwara every year in the month of December to mark the Martydom of Sri Guru Teg Bahadur with due Solemnity and Ceremony. Sikh devotees called reverence of Sahidee-Guru-Parav.
11. GURU NANAK DARBAR : GURU NANAK DARBAR is situated in Dubai which serves over 10,000 worshippers. In June 2010, foundations were laid for the Guru Nanak Darbar. At a cost of $20 million, the large gurdwara is located in Jebel Ali, Dubai and will be the first ‘official’ Sikh temple in the entire Gulf, catering to the needs of the local Sikh community. An area of 25,400 sq ft (2,360 m2) of land was gifted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for the construction of the building. This is a perfect example of spirituality and modernity combined with affluence. Visitors are in awe of such an opulent gurdwara in an Islamic country
12. GURDWARA DATA BANDI CHOD SAHIB : GURUDWARA SHRI DATA BANDI CHOD SAHIB, is situated in the Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh (Central India). It is situated on the hill top in the Fort Gwalior. This is given the name Bandi Chod because it signifies the release of 52 Rajput rulers who were imprisoned in the Gwalior fort. The sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargobind Singh Ji stayed in the Gwalior fort to pray for Jahangir’s health where he met these rulers and decided to help them to get freed. Constructed inside the premises of the Gwalior Fort in the year 1970, Gurudwara Data Bandi Chhod is one of the most prominent Sikh shrines in India. The exterior of the shrine is adorned with white marble and stained glass. The structure of the Gurudwara spreads over six acres and it houses the Scindia School, a huge dining hall (Guru ka Langar) and staff accommodations.