TOSHĀKHĀNĀ, from Persian toshākhānāh (toshah = food or provisions for journey or food articles in general+ khānā =house, store) or tosha khāna (toshak = bedding, clothing + khānā) means in Punjabi a treasury or secured storehouse for valuables. It is now generally used for the storehouse in the Darbār Sāhib complex at Amritsar where costly items presented as offerings at the Harimandar, the Akāl Takht and the shrine of Bābā Aṭāl accumulated over the centuries, mostly during the Sikh rule in the Punjab, are normally kept under tight security. They are taken out for jalau or display in the shrines on special occasions such as major festivals or anniversaries. They mostly comprise gold and silver ornaments such as chhabbās (dome-like pendants), seharās (fringes of pearls and gems), chhatars (umbrellas), jhālars (bejewelled frills), etc. Other costly items like door leaves of the Harimandar lined with gold sheets and valuable rumālās (scarves or wrappings for Gurū Granth Sāhib) are also stored in the Toshākhānā. Two rare items are a richly bejewelled canopy, originally a present from the Nizām of Hyderābād to Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh (1780-1839), who considering it too good for himself made an offering of it at the Harimandar, and a chandan da chaur or fly-whisk made of fibres of sandalwood prepared by a Muslim craftsman, Hājī Muhammad Maskīn. He had made two such whisks, one of which he had presented at the Holy Ka'aba at Meccā, and was in search of a holy place in India deserving of his offering. Guided by Bhāī Hīrā Siṅgh Rāgī, a well-known exponent of gurmat kīrtan (singing of sacred hymns of Gurū Granth Sāhib), he offered the whisk at the Harimandar on 31 December 1925.
The Toshākhānā is located on the first floor of Darshanī Deoṛhī, the gateway to the Harimandar, and is guarded by employees of the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee. The contents are properly accounted for and the records kept by the secretary of the local managing committee until, 1945, when the local committee was disbanded and the administration of the Darbār Sāhib complex was put under the direct control of the Shiromaṇī Committee. It was the confiscation of the keys of this treasury by the British administration on 7 November 1921 that led to the keys agitation, the first direct confrontation between the government and the Akālīs during the Gurdwārā Reform movement. It ended in the restitution of the Golden Temple keys to the shrine authority on 5 January 1922. A government official came to the Darbār Sāhib complex and surrendered the keys wrapped in a red piece of cloth to Bābā Khaṛak Siṅgh, then president of the Shiromaṇī Committee.
Toshākhānā too was fired at by government troops during "Operation Blue Star" on the night of 5/6 June 1984. It was partly damaged by artillery shells from guns mounted on tanks. The treasury, however, remained intact except that the famous Hyderābād canopy was scorched by heat generated by shelling.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)