KOṬLĀ NIHAṄG KHĀN, about two and a half kilometres south of Ropaṛ (30º-58'N, 76º-31'E), owes its prominence to Gurdwārā Bhaṭṭhā Sāhib. The village is named after the local chief, Nihaṅg Khān, a god-fearing Afghān contemporary of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh first visited Koṭlā Nihaṅg Khān while on his way back from Pāoṇṭā to Anandpur. The site of the present Gurdwārā Bhaṭṭhā Sāhib used to be a lime kiln which was the property of Nihaṅg Khān. It is said that the kiln was still smouldering when the Gurū arrived here on Magghar vadī Amāvas, 1745 Bk/12 November 1688 and, inadvertantly or otherwise, rode on to it. As soon as the hooves of his horse touched the kiln, it cooled. Nihaṅg Khān fell at the Gurū's feet and became forever his devoted follower. He escorted him to his havelī and put him up for the night with reverence and attention. The Gurū again passed through Koṭlā Nihaṅg Khān while returning from the solar eclipse in 1702/1703. The third visit was on 6 December 1705 when Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, after crossing the Sarsā cut across straight towards Koṭlā Nihaṅg Khān, detaching 100 of his warriors under Bhāī Bachittar Siṅgh to cover his flank. He safely reached Kotla where, relaxing in Nihaṅg Khān's house, he waited for Bachittar Siṅgh. The latter engaged the pursuing host, but most of his men perished in the action. He himself was seriously wounded and brought in that condition to Nihaṅg Khān's house by Sāhibzādā Ajīt Siṅgh and Bhāī Madan Siṅgh. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh charged Nihaṅg Khān with looking after Bachittar Siṅgh, and proceeded with the remaining forty-odd Sikhs towards Chamkaur.
Informed that Nihaṅg Khān was sheltering Sikhs, the Mughal troops searched his house. Bachittar Siṅgh lay half-dead in a small room attended by Nihaṅg Khān's daughter. Nihaṅg Khān showed no sign of perturbation, and succeeded in keeping away the search party from that room saying that inside his daughter was nursing her sick husband. The danger was averted, but the life of Bhāī Bachittar Siṅgh could not be saved. He succumbed to his injuries and breathed his last on 8 December 1705. Nihaṅg Khān had the cremation performed secretly the following night.
Gurū Gobind Siṅgh had, before his departure, bestowed upon Nihaṅg Khān a sword, a dagger and a shield. These relics were preserved in the family, but no shrine was raised to the Gurū's memory until Gurdwārā Bhaṭṭhā Sāhib was constructed by Sant Bābā Jīvan Siṅgh (1833-1938) of Buḍḍhā Bhorā on the site of the kiln. The construction was commenced in 1910 and completed in 1923. When the Paṭhān family left India, following the partition of 1947, they presented the sword and the dagger at the Gurdwārā, but the shield was taken possession of by the family who occupied their house. The sword, which, has a beautiful golden hilt and sheath, carries the inscription in Persian letters: "Shāhinshāh Shāh Mīr Muhammad Māmūr."
Gurdwārā buildings upon a 3-acre walled campus include several halls and suites of rooms. The central three-storeyed domed shrine, marking the spot where the Gurū's horse had stood on the kiln, is usually kept closed. The Gurū Granth Sāhib is seated in two of the halls. There are two blocks of rooms, named Gurū Nānak Nivās and Dashmesh Nivās, respectively, for pilgrims. The Gurdwārā is administered by Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee through a local committee. Besides the daily morning and evening services, special gatherings take place on Sunday mornings and on the first of every Bikramī month. An annual fair is held from 16-18 December. The Gurū kā Laṅgar is open round the clock. Inside the village, the Nihaṅgs have established a small shrine in memory of Bhāī Bhachittar Siṅgh.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)