NĀNDEḌ (19º-10'N, 77º -20'E), one of the important centres of Sikh pilgrimage situated on the left bank of the River Godāvarī, is a district town in Mahārāshṭra. It is a railway station on the Manmād-Kāchīguḍā section of the South Central Railway, and is also connected by road with other major towns of the region. The Sikhs generally refer to it as Hazūr Sāhib or Abichal Nagar : Both these names apply, in fact, to the principal shrine, but are extended in common usage to refer to the town itself. Hazūr Sāhib is a title of reverence, meaning Exalted Presence; Abichal Nagar : Abichal = Immortal, Everlasting and Nagar =Town or City. The town ranks as one of the takhts, i.e. a seat of religious authority and legislation for the Sikhs.

        Nāndeḍ, which was visited both by Gurū Nānak and Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, claims several Sikh shrines of historical importance.

        TAKHT SACHKHAṆḌ SRĪ HAZŪR ABICHALNAGAR SĀHIB. At the time of Emperor Bahādur Shāh's march towards the south via Rājputānā, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh accompanied him with his own disciples and followers. Crossing the Tāptī in mid-June and Bāṇ Gaṅgā on 13 August, the two camps arrived at Nāndeḍ towards the end of August 1708. Bahādur Shāh, after a brief halt, crossed the Godāvarī and proceeded on to Golkoṇḍā, but the Gurū stayed behind at Nāndeḍ. Here he converted a Vaishnavite Bairāgī recluse, Mādho Dās, also known as Lachhmaṇ Dev, who after initiation into the Khālsā fold, received the name of Bandā Siṅgh. To Nāndeḍ came from the Punjab two Paṭhāns, on the trail of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. They had been hired by Wazīr Khān of Sirhind, who felt threatened by the conciliatory negotiations going on between the Emperor and Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. These Paṭhāns, the name of one of them is recorded as Jamshaid Khān, dissembling as interested listeners, started attending the evening dīvān or service. Finding the Gurū alone in his tent one day, they fell on him inflicting astab wound. Before the blow could be repeated, the Gurū despatched one of the Paṭhāns with his own sabre. His companion fell under the swords of the Sikhs who had meanwhile rushed in. Gurū 'Gobind Siṅgh's wound healed, but it broke out again as he was stretching a powerful bow. Bestowing the succession on the Granth Sāhib and thus ending the line of personal Gurūs, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh passed away on 7 October 1708.

         Gurū Gobind Siṅgh had desired one of his Sikhs, Santokh Siṅgh, who supervised the community kitchen, to remain in Nāndeḍ and continue running the Gurū kā Laṅgar. A number of other Sikhs also decided to stay back. They built a small shrine in memory of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh and installed the Gurū Granth Sāhib in it.

         Around 1823, Rājā Chandū Lāl, Dīwān of Hyderābād state, had the management of the shrine made over to the Udāsīs. He also secured for the shrine an endowment of about 525 acres of land. In 1832, Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh built on the site a two-storeyed gurdwārā, with a golden dome. During this time, Sikh artisans and workmen came to Nāndeḍ in large numbers, and many of them settled here permanently. Additionally, the Nizām enlisted a troop of Sikhs in his army. With this influx of Sikh population, the Udāsī influence receded. Sikhs assumed the responsibility for religious services in the shrine at Nāndeḍ, whereas the administration was taken over by the Nizām's government. The control of the main shrine and other Gurdwārās at Nāndeḍ was transferred to a 17-member Gurdwārā Board, with a 5-member Managing Committee constituted under the Nāndeḍ Sikh Gurdwārās Act passed on 20 September 1956 by Hyderābād state legislature.

         A chakra (quoit), a broad sword, a steel bow, a steel arrow, a gurz (heavy club with a large spherical knob), a small gilded kirpān and five gilded swords are on display in the sanctum of Takht Sachkhaṇḍ as Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's relics.

        GURDWĀRĀ HĪRĀ GHAT SĀHIB is on top of the left bank of the River Godāvarī about 9 km northeast of Nāndeḍ town. This is the spot where Gurū Gobind Siṅgh first set up camp on arrival at Nāndeḍ. As the tradition goes, one day Emperor Bahādur Shāh who came to call on him presented him with a hīrā, or diamond. The Gurū cast it into the river. Bahādur Shāh felt offended. He thought that being a faqīr the Gurū did not know the value of the stone. The Gurū invited the Emperor to look into the water. The latter did so and was astonished to see heaps of diamonds lying at the bottom of the river. Cleansed of his pride, he bowed at the Gurū's feet. On that site stands Gurdwārā Hīrā Ghāṭ.

        GURDWĀRĀ MĀTĀ SĀHIB, also on the river bank, is half a kilometre southeast of Gurdwārā Hīrā Ghāt. It marks the place where tents were pitched for Mātā Sāhib Devāṅ, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh's wife, who had accompanied him during his journey to the South. While the Gurū stayed at Hīrā Ghāṭ, the laṅgar which was supervised by Mātā Sāhib Devāṅ was established here. Subsequently the laṅgar was looked after by Bābā Nidhān Siṅgh. The laṅgar continues to this day and is run by the Nihaṅgs under the overall control of Gurdwārā Board Takht Sachkhaṇḍ. The building in which is installed the Gurū Granth Sāhib was constructed in 1976-77. Other buildings are older. Among them is the angīṭhā, memorial on the cremation spot, in memory of Bābā Mit Siṅgh Nihaṅg who died here on 2 Kattak 2001 Bk/17 October 1944.

        GURDWĀRĀ SHIKĀR GHĀṬ SĀHIB is situated on top of a hillock, about 300 metres from the left bank of the River Godāvarī. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh used this site as a starting point for his hunting (shikār) excursions. A legend has grown up that the Gurū emancipated here the soul of one Bhāī Mūlā who had been under an anathema since the time of Gurū Nānak that he would continue in the cycle of birth and death until released by the Tenth Nānak. This was accomplished when Gurū Gobind Siṅgh killed a hare at the place marked by Gurdwārā Shikār Ghāṭ.

         The old shrine on this spot was rebuilt in 1971 by Sant Bābā Jīvan Siṅgh and Bābā Dalīp Siṅgh who also constructed the approach road as well as the bridge over the River Godāvārī. The building, a simple, but elegant, monument, is at one end of a huge walled compound which also encloses a bathing tank. The square-shaped gurdwārā is mounted over by a lotus dome with decorative domed pavilions at the corners and small solid domelets on all four sides. The whole exterior, including the domes, is lined with white marble slabs. The hall, where the Gurū Granth Sāhib is seated on a canopied throne of white marble, has a marble floor, with walls panelled with marble slabs and a ceiling of pure white glazed tiles. The shrine is managed by the Gurdwārā Board Takht Sachkhaṇḍ.

        GURDWĀRĀ NAGĪNĀ GHĀṬ SĀHIB is on the left bank of Godāvarī to the southwest of Takht Sachkhaṇḍ. The legend connected with this shrine bears close similarity to that of Gurdwārā Hīrā Ghāṭ. Here, it is said, Gurū Gobind Siṅgh flung into the river a jewel presented by a Vaṇjārā Sikh, proud of his rich offering. As the Gurū asked him to look into the water the merchant saw, to his amazement, heaps of glittering jewels, far superior in excellence to the one he had offered.

         The present building of the gurdwārā was constructed by Gulāb Siṅgh Seṭhī of New Delhi. It was completed on 13 April 1968. The main hall has a canopied throne of white marble where the Gurū Granth Sāhib is installed. The shrine is administered by the Gurdwārā Board Takht Sachkhaṇḍ.

        GURDWĀRĀ BĀBĀ BANDĀ BAHĀDUR GHĀṬ SĀHIB marks the site of the hermitry of Mādho Dās Bairāgī, renamed Bandā Siṅgh after he had received the Khālsā rites. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh reached the place on 3 September 1708. Mādho Dās was not then present. He sat on the Bairāgī's cot and asked the Sikhs to kill some of his goats for food. Mādho Dās was furious at this profanation of his monastery and burnt with the desire to chastise the strange visitor for his temerity. But no sooner had he set his eyes on the Gurū than all his anger was gone; so was his sorcerous will of which he was greatly proud. He fell at the Gurū's feet and submitted : "Myself I give unto you; I am your bandā (slave)." Bandā Siṅgh was admitted to the vows and insignia of the Khālsā and sent on 5 October 1708 to the Punjab by Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, accompanied by a few chosen Sikhs.

         The Gurdwārā Bandā Ghāṭ, as it is commonly known, is a single flat roofed room with a seat for the Gurū Granth Sāhib. It is controlled by the Gurdwārā Board Takht Sachkhaṇḍ.

        GURDWĀRĀ MĀL ṬEKRĪ SĀHIB is to the northeast of Takht Sachkhaṇḍ. The place derives its name from an old mound known previously as Chakrī Māl or Māl Ṭillā. According to local tradition, Gurū Nānak, while journeying in the South, visited the spot and discoursed here with a Muslim faqīr, Lakkaṛ Shāh, who lived on this mound. Gurū Gobind Siṅgh is believed to have unearthed an old treasure hidden in the mound and distributed part of it to his soldiers at Gurdwārā Saṅgat Sāhib burying the remainder again here.

         The Sikhs established on the site a Mañjī Sāhib. The present gurdwārā, built after a judicial decision upholding the Sikhs' claim to the land given on 7 December 1929, consists of a single flat-roofed room with an all around verandah, inside a fenced compound. In the centre of the room is installed the Gurū Granth Sāhib, attended by a granthī provided by Takht Sachkhaṇḍ. Not far from the gurdwārā is the grave of Faqīr Lakkaṛ Shāh.

        GURDWĀRĀ SAṄGAT SĀHIB, probably named after a Sikh saṅgat which existed at Nāndeḍ prior to the visit of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh, is near the river bank towards the eastern end of the old town. It is said that the treasure unearthed at Māl Ṭekrī was brought here and distributed by the Gurū, not in counted number of coins but in shieldfuls.

         The gurdwārā is an old flat-roofed room with a low dome. Some old weapons are displayed on a platform in the centre of the room. They include a shield believed to be the one with which the treasure was distributed. The Gurū Granth Sāhib is installed in the narrow space between the central platform and the wall.

        BUṄGĀ MĀĪ BHĀGO Jī marks the site of Māī Bhāgo's residence. It is a large room within the compound of Gurdwārā Takht Sachkhaṇḍ Srī Hazūr Sāhib, to the east of the central shrine. Besides the Gurū Granth Sāhib, some old weapons, including large sized muskets and a mortar, and a palanquin are on display in the room.

        AṄGĪṬHĀ BHĀĪ DAYĀ SIṄGH ATE DHARAM SIṄGH. Bhāī Dayā Siṅgh and Bhāī Dharam Siṅgh were two of the Pañj Piāre. They survived the action at Chamkaur and came out of the fortress with Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. From Dīnā, they were sent to deliver the Gurū's letter, Zafarnāmāh, to Emperor Auraṅgzīb. They rejoined the Gurū as he was travelling to the South and reached Nāndeḍ where they later died.

         The aṅgīthā, or place of cremation, is marked by a small room within the compound of Takht Sachkhaṇḍ, behind Buṅgā Māī Bhāgo. Some old weapons are displayed on a platform in the centre of the room.

        GURDWĀRĀ LAṄGAR SĀHIB or Gurdwārā Bābā Nidhān Siṅgh, not an old historical shrine, has gained prominence as a major gurdwārā in recent years. It was established by Sant Bābā Nidhān Siṅgh during the 1920's primarily to provide food and shelter for pilgrims coming to Nāndeḍ from distant parts. He collected donations mainly from the Sikh units of the Indian army.

         The original building, a square shaped room, now forms part of a hall in which the Gurū Granth Sāhib is installed. The new complex comprises a large hall, flanked by two floors of rooms for pilgrims, and the Gurū kā Laṅgar. The gurdwārā, not under the Gurdwārā Board, is managed by successors of Bābā Nidhān Siṅgh. The recital of gurbāṇī and kīrtan takes place morning and evening, and Gurū kā Laṅgar is open round-the-clock.

        GURDWĀRĀ NĀNAK SAR is a new gurdwārā located in the land owned by Gurdwārā Laṅgar Sāhib, about 10 km from Nāndeḍ, across the River Godāvārī. Legend, which has grown in recent years, connects the site with Gurū Nānak's visit on his way from Nāndeḍ to Bidar. The gurdwārā is a newly built rectangular room in which the Gurū Granth Sāhib is installed, served by a granthī provided by Gurdwārā Laṅgar Sāhib. Close to the gurdwārā, a bathing tank has been constructed in a depression where existed a well before the present gurdwārā was built.

         Some local, i.e. Dakkhṇī, Sikhs have constructed another gurdwārā, named Gurdwārā Nānakpurī about 100 metres from Nānak Sar. As to the sanctity of the spot, both invoke the story of Gurū Nānak's visit.

        GURDWĀRĀ RATANGAṚH SĀHIB is another new gurdwārā built alongside of a farmhouse, on a site belonging to Gurdwārā Laṅgar Sāhib. The legend connected with it mentions that Gurū Gobind Siṅgh met here a person, Seṭh Uttam Sreshṭha, three days after he had been cremated at the site of Takht Sachkhaṇḍ. The gurdwārā is a flat-roofed hall with a porch, constructed on a high plinth. The Gurū Granth Sāhib is installed in the hall. The Gurdwārā Laṅgar Sāhib provides an attendant, who also looks after the farm.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Giān Siṅgh, Giānī, Twārīkh Gurduāriāṅ. Amritsar, n.d.
  2. Narotam, Tārā Siṅgh, Srī Guru Tīrath Saṅgrahi. Kankhal, 1975
  3. Ṭhākar Siṅgh, Giāni, Srī Gurduāre Darshan. Amritsar, 1923
  4. Randhir, G.S., Sikhs Shrines in India. Delhi, 1990
  5. Patwant Siṅgh, Gurdwaras in India and Around the World. Delhi, 1992
  6. Sahi, Joginder Singh, Sikh Shrines in India and Abroad. Faridabad, 1978

Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)