SHĀHĀBĀD (30º-10'N, 76º-53'E), also called Shāhābād Mārkaṇḍā, is an old town in Kurukshetra district of Haryāṇā on the left bank of the Mārkaṇḍā River, 20 km south of Ambālā Cantonment. During the medieval period it had a fortified serāi used by imperial officers and troops moving between Delhi and the northern provinces. It also had a resident garrison to guard the highway. Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur reduced and plundered Shāhābād in 1709. Later, when, after the conquest of Sirhind by the Dal Khālsā in January 1764, the Sikhs started occupying territory, Nishānāṅvālī misl, under Dasaundhā Siṅgh and Saṅgat Siṅgh, took possession of a long and narrow stretch of land south of the Sutlej, extending from Siṅghāṅvālā in Firozpore district up to Shāhābād with Ambālā as the headquarters. The territory of Shāhābād and Ismāīlābād fell to Sardār Mehar Siṅgh. Several attempts were made by the Afghāns to dislodge the Sikhs, but they were repulsed every time. It was during this period, between 1770 and 1780, that a magnificent old mosque, said to have been built by Emperor Shāh Jahān in 1630, was converted into a gurdwārā. The only major change was the demolition of its minarets. The gurdwārā was named Mastgaṛh, this designation being commonly used for gurdwārās converted from mosques. Bhāī Prem Siṅgh of Hazūr Sāhib was appointed the first granthī. Gurdwārā Mastgaṛh is on a high ground in the northeastern part of the town. The original prayer hall, under a high dome is used as the dīvān hall. The Gurū Granth Sāhib is seated in the centre in front of the mihrāb. Bullet marks on the exterior surface of the domes and the walls still bear witness to the turbulence the country went through in the eighteenth century. The Gurdwārā is affiliated to the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee which administers it through a local committee.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)