KARTĀRPUR (31º-26'N, 75º-30'E), municipal town famous for its furniture industry, 15 km northwest of Jalandhar along Sher Shāh Sūrī Mārg in the Punjab, was founded by Gurū Arjan (1563-1606) in 1594 on land granted during the reign of Emperor Akbar (1556-1605) . Gurū Arjan's successor, Gurū Hargobind (1595-1644), resided here too for some time. Two of his sons, Sūraj Mall and Tegh Bahādur, were married at Kartārpur. In April 1635, the faujdār or garrison commander of Jalandhar, at the instigation of Paindā Khān, a former protege of Gurū Hargobind turned hostile, attacked Kartārpur. After a three-day battle in which the Gurū's youngest son, Tegh Bahādur, displayed feats of valour, Gurū Hargobind left the town and retired with his family and attendants to the hill resort of Kīratpur. His young grandson, Dhīr Mall (1627-77), however, would neither leave Kartārpur nor part with the Holy Book, the original recension of Gurū Granth Sāhib. He stayed behind and declared himself Gurū forming a sect of his own appropriating to himself income from land as well as from offerings made by devotees to the Holy Granth. It is his line called Soḍhīs of Kartārpur that became the owners of the place and high priests of the sacred shrines located there. The Dhīrmallīā sect was rejected by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh (1666-1708), who forbade the Sikhs to have any dealings with them. The Soḍhīs of Kartārpur later returned to the Sikh fold accepting vows of the Khālsā. In 1757, Ahmad Shāh Durrānī sacked Kartārpur, burnt down the sacred Thamm Sāhib shrine and forced Soḍhī Vaḍbhāg Siṅgh (d. 1762) to flee and find refuge in the hills of Ūnā. The Sikhs soon avenged the desecration and re-established the shrines when they came to power in the Punjab. There are now the following sacred places in Kartārpur.
GURDWĀRĀ THAMMJĪ SĀHIB (popularly called Thamm Sāhib) is named after a massive wooden log (thamm, in Punjabi) used as central support for the first house that Gurū Arjan got built for use as an assembly hall for the saṅgat at the new habitation. The thamm was later treated by the Sikhs as a sacred relic. Some time after the building was destroyed in 1757 by Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, a simple structure was raised on the site, replaced by the present seven-storeyed edifice constructed through the munificence of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh (1780-1839). Standing on a high plinth in the middle of a walled compound, it comprises a 15-metre square double-storeyed marble floored hall encompassing the square sanctum at the ground floor. The six storeys rising above the sanctum are topped by a dome with a gilded pinnacle. The Gurdwārā owns 100 acres of land and is administered by the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee through a local committee which also controls Gurdwārās Gaṅgsar, Chubachchā Sāhib, Viāh Asthān, and Ṭāhlī Sāhib.
GURDWĀRĀ GAṄGSAR PĀTSHĀHĪ PAÑJVĪṄ TE CHHEVĪṄ, 200 metres east of the town is named after the well got sunk in 1599 by Gurū Arjan who pronounced it to be as sacred as the River Gaṅgā. The old Mañjī Sāhib near the well was replaced by the present five-storeyed building raised by the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee in 1975. The sanctum is at one end of a square hall on the ground floor. The other four storeys with the dome on top rise above the sanctum. Within the hall to the right side as one faces the sanctum is a platform dedicated to Gurū Hargobind who, according to local tradition, sat here sometimes to address visiting saṅgats.
GURDWĀRĀ VIĀH ASTHĀN GURŪ TEGH BAHĀDUR TE MĀTĀ GUJARĪ JĪ at the end of Rabābīāṅvālī Lane marks the house where Bhāī Lāl Chand Subhikkhī, father of Mātā Gujarī, stayed and where Mātā Gujarī's marriage with Gurū Tegh Bahādur was solemnized on 4 February 1633. The five-storeyed Gurdwārā was built during the 1980's under the supervision of Bābā Uttam Siṅgh of Khaḍūr Sāhib. The sanctum is at the far end of a rectangular hall on the ground floor. A separate building to the north of the hall houses a library.
GURDWĀRĀ CHUBACHCHĀ SĀHIB PĀTSHĀHĪ CHHEVĪṄ is located in a walled compound about 100 metres northwest of Gurdwārā Thamm Sāhib. The sanctum is at the far end of a flat-roofed rectangular hall, built in 1940.
GURDWĀRĀ ṬĀHLĪ SĀHIB PĀTSHĀHĪ VII, about 2 km south of the main town, marks the site where Gurū Har Rāi (1630-61), accompanied by his horse guard halted while on his way from Kīratpur to Goindvāl in 1658. The Gurdwārā is named after a shīsham tree (Dalbergia sissoo, ṭāhlī in Punjabi), still extant, to which, according to local tradition, the Gurū's own horse was tied. The present buildings were constructed in 1949 under the supervision of Sant Īshar Siṅgh of Rāṛā. The central building is a flat-roofed rectangular hall in which is located the sanctum.
GURDWĀRĀ BĀBE DĪ BER or simply Ber Sāhib, about 1.5 km east of town is dedicated to Bābā Gurdittā (1613-38), eldest son of Gurū Hargobind. It is here that Bābā Srī Chand (1494-1629), son of Gurū Nānak, held discourse with Bābā Gurdittā under a ber tree (Ziziphus marutiana) before he chose him his successor as head of the Udāsī sect. The ber tree still stands as also the old well known as Khūh Mallīāṅ. According to tradition, Bhāī Gurdās (d. 1636), poet and expounder of the holy writ, used to compose verses here attracted by the seclusion of the place. The present Gurdwārā comprising a square room with a verandah in the front was constructed in 1961 by the local saṅgat.
SHĪSH MAHAL (lit. palace of mirrors), originally the residence of Gurū Arjan, and Gurū Hargobind during their occasional visits to Kartārpur, is within a fortress-like house, the property of the Soḍhī descendants of Bābā Dhīr Mall. A number of sacred relics are preserved in the Shīsh Mahal. They include the original copy of the Holy Book prepared by Gurū Arjan; a breviary of hymns used by Gurū Arjan for his daily prayers; a heavy khaṇḍā or double-edged sword believed to have been used by Gurū Hargobind; another khaṇḍā associated with Gurū Har Rāi; the ceremonial cord and cap given by Bābā Srī Chand to Bābā Gurdittā as emblems of headship of the Udāsī sect; and a few garments belonging to Bābā Gurdittā.
Other historical monuments at Kartārpur are the samādhī of Bībī Kaulāṅ Nānakīāṇā Sāhib, a shrine commemorating Mātā Nānakī, the mother of Gurū Tegh Bahādur; Damdamā Sāhib, a platform dedicated to Gurū Hargobind; and Ḍerā Bhāī Bhagatū Jī marking the site where Bhāī Bhagatū, a prominent Sikh contemporary of the Fifth, Sixth and the Seventh Gurūs, was cremated in 1652 by Gurū Har Rāi.
B. S. Nijjar