Anandpur Sahib, one of the holiest Sikh sites, was originated by Guru Tegh Bahadur. He survived in the Guru ka Mahal in the old quarter of the town. A museum dedicated to, and named after him, displays a gathering of oil paintings depicting the trials and evils of his times. A shrine has also been raised in honor of Bhai Jaitha, who putative Guru Tegh Bahadur’s head from Delhi to Punjab, after the Guru’s execution. Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, the town’s most sacred shrine, built on a hillock with the lower Shivaliks as a backdrop, is where Guru Gobind Singh formed the Khalsa Panth (Sikh Nation). It was in remembrance of the third anniversary of the founding of the Panth, that the sprawling Khalsa Heritage Complex was imagined and shaped into the state-of-the-art repository that we know it today. Called the Virasat-e-Khalsa. This museum sheds light on the vision of the Sikh Gurus and provides an insight into Sikh history, culture, and heritage. As a Sikh bastion, Anandpur Sahib was heavily fortified and today the battlements include gurdwaras. Of these, Gurdwara Qila Anandgarh Sahib was where the Khalsa army was held under siege, while Gurdwara Holgarh Sahib hosts the town’s largest, most spectacular festival, the Hola Mohalla. This week-long celebration, drawing visitors from around the world, elephant processions, includes imitation battles, equestrian events, kirtan, poetry recitations and endless meals at community kitchens.
Following are some places on hitlist to visit and explore:
1. Anandpur Sahib Fort
Anandpur Sahib, the basic place where the Khalsa was originated, was well-known and settled by Guru Teg Bahadur on the banks of River Sutlej. It was once fortified by five majestic forts. Of these, the main fort built in red brick by Guru Gobind Singh, is still vertical. An underground well inside the fort, accessed by a sharp flight of stairs, is an intriguing feature of its manner. So at this venue,the annual Hola Mohalla festival is held.
2. Guru Tegh Bahadur Museum, Anandpur Sahib
The Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Museum was constructed in 1983 in tribute of the third centenary of the Guru’s death. Located near Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, the gallery’s architecture reflects that of the gurdwara. A large collection of paintings, narrating the antiquity of the Sikhs, including portrayals from Guru Tegh Bahadur’s life, is displayed here.
3. Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib
It is the standard but major shrine in Anandpur Sahib. This is the significant place where, on the day of Baisakhi in 1699, Guru Gobind Singh initiated his groups into the order of the Khalsa (Sikh nation). Legend upholds that the Guru pleaded those present to volunteer their heads to him. When five brave men, now known as the Panj Piare (five beloveds), came forward to lay down their lives, the Guru instead baptized them with Amrit (holy water). The Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, re-built in the 20th century, contains the sanctum sanctorum where the belongings of Guru Gobind Singh – a khanda, a dagger, and several spears – are preserved.
4. The Virasat–e-Khalsa
This epic place in Anandpur Sahib was begun in 1999 to honor the third centenary of the founding of the Khalsa Panth (Sikh nation) by Guru Gobind Singh. Spread across a substantial 6,500 sqm, the recently opened Viraasat-e-Khalsa museum tells an unforgettable story of both Punjab and Sikhism, using hand-crafted artifacts and the latest technology. Intended by acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie, this story-telling repository is the first of its scale in the world, and has been envisioned as the world’s largest cultural and historical museum dedicated to a single community. Conceived as two functionally combined sets of buildings, the Western complex, forming the gateway for the town provides unimaginative access to the Eastern complex over a 165-meter bridge. A sequence of reflecting pools create an extensive water body amid the two complexes with arcaded walkways and gardens on either side. Public amenities and a cafeteria are situated at the base of the conduit.
5. Gurudwara Guru Ka Mahal
In Anandpur Sahib, this is the first structure and building of Chak Nanaki. This place is worshiped as the ‘Guru ka Mahal’ complex. Along with Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, his disciples used to live here.
6. Gurudwara Akal Bunga Sahib
This is situated opposite to the Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib. Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji used to address the Sikhs to struggle for freedom and faith. He also probed people to stay ready to fight tyranny and injustice.
Festivals and Fairs
Hola Mohalla is the juncture when the whole area is skilled with martial spirit. This is the right time to visit the place. 10th Guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji professed that the festival of colors ‘Holi’ would be celebrated as Hola Mohalla. Throughout the occasion, his people used to show the martial spirit to the fellow citizens. It is projected that 100,000 devotees from all over the country visit the place every year during the festival.
During the three-day festivals, all the Gurudwaras are ornamented, and community sessions followed by religious functions. Moreover, a huge procession of Nihangs is organized where people dress up in a traditional outfit and carry weapons. On the third day, the ownership passes through headquarter of Nihangs, the market, and reaches the fort of Holgarh. And this is the place where Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji used to celebrate all festivals and fairs. The time also includes martial games, horse riding, tent pegging, and sword exercise and so on. This is the time when Anandpur Sahib grows live and tempting. March is the best time to stay at the Holy City of Bliss.