GOINDVĀL (31º-22'N, 75º-9'E), the first ever place of Sikh pilgrimage so designated by its founder, Gurū Amar Dās. This in fact was the spot where the ancient east-west highway crossed the River Beās. With the renovation of the highway by Sher Shāh Sūr, the Afghān ruler of north India (1540-45), this ferry site became an important transit point. This led one Goindā or Gondā, a Marvāhā Khatrī trader, to plan establishing an habitation at the western end of the ferry. Thwarted in his endeavour by natural calamities which Goindā attributed to evil spirits, he repaired to Khaḍūr to seek Gurū Aṅgad's blessing. The Gurū deputed his devoted disciple, (Gurū) Amar Dās, to help Goindā. Amar Dās, who knew that tract very well as he had been carrying river water from this place to Khaḍūr daily for his Master's ablutions, laid the foundation of a village which was named after Goindā. After his anointment as Gurū in 1552, Gurū Amar Dās shifted from Khaḍūr to Goindvāl. In 1559, Gurū Amar Dās commenced the digging in Goindvāl of a bāolī, i.e. a well with steps descending down to water level which, when completed, attracted pilgrims from far and near. Goindvāl also became in the time of Gurū Amar Dās the centre of an annual fair on the occasion of Baisākhī. Even after Gurū Amar Dās's successor, Gurū Rām Dās, had built up Amritsar and made it his permanent seat, devotees continued to visit Goindvāl to have a dip in the sacred bāolī and pay homage at other local shrines.

        SRĪ BĀOLĪ SĀHIB is a large, open well, 8-metres across. Its water level is reached through a covered passage comprising a flight of 84 steps. A wide pointed archway opens on a domed clearance, four steps below the ground level. Its cupola is painted with multicoloured floral designs and portraits of Gurū Amar Dās, Gurū Rām Dās, Gurū Hargobind and Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. The area between the arch and the coping is covered with portraits of the Ten Gurūs, and those of Bābā Moharī, Bābā Mohan and Bābā Anand. Other paintings depict scenes from the life of Gurū Amar Dās. Most of the steps are covered with marble slabs donated by different devotees, the earliest of these being dated 1963 Bk/AD 1906. The lotus dome above the entrance has a tall gold-plated pinnacle with pinnacled kiosks and solid decorative domes around it.

        THAṚĀ SĀHIB SRĪ GURŪ AMAR DĀS JĪ is a marblelined platform, with a pinnacled canopy of white marble supported on cylinderical columns, at the entrance to Srī Bāolī Sāhib. It marks the site where Gurū Amar Dās used to sit supervising the digging of the Bāolī.

        SRĪ DARBĀR SĀHIB or Prakāsh Asthān Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib Jī, adjacent to Srī Bāolī Sāhib, is a square

        hall with a sanctum in the centre where the Gurū Granth Sāhib is seated. Daily congregations take place in this hall.

        LAṄGAR SRĪ GURŪ AMAR DĀS JĪ, in the vicinity of the Darbār Sāhib, is a large-sized refectory, with kitchens attached.

        GURŪ AMAR DĀS NIVĀS, behind the Bāolī Sāhib, is a two-storeyed building providing lodging for pilgrims.

        GURDWĀRĀ SRĪ CHUBĀRĀ SĀHIB, in a different complex which was once the residence of Gurū Amar Dās and his family, is the attic in which the Gurū himself lived. It is a small room with a still smaller room entered through it. The Gurū Granth Sāhib is seated in the front room on a silver pālakī or portable canopied throne. This room has doors covered with silver. The interior is decorated with stucco work inset with reflecing glass pieces and intricate designs in many colours.

        KILLĪ SĀHIB, a small wooden peg (killī in Punjabi) now covered with a silver sheath, is fixed in the front wall of Srī Chubārā Sāhib on the outside. Gurū Amar Dās, it is said, used to meditate in the standing posture holding on to this peg for support. An embossed design on a brass plate above the Killī Sāhib depicts Gurū Nānak, flanked by Bhāī Bālā and Bhāī Mardānā, sitting under a tree. Another embossed sketch shows Gurū Amar Dās and his sons, Bābā Moharī and Bābā Mohan.

        GURIĀĪ ASTHĀN GURŪ RĀM DĀS, marks the spot where Gurū Rām Dās was anointed Gurū. A brass plate donated by a descendant of Gurū Amar Dās in 1920 has etched on it the scene of the ceremony in which Bhāī Gurdās is holding a whisk over the head of Gurū Rām Dās, Bābā Buḍḍhā is putting the saffron mark on his forehead and Gurū Amar Dās is standing behind Bābā Buḍḍhā, while Bābā Moharī is touching the feet of Gurū Rām Dās and Bābā Mohan is sitting in meditation on a deer-skin. Next to them are figures of 22 prominent Sikhs on whom Gurū Amar Dās is said to have bestowed mañjīs, the insignia of appointment as preachers in their respective districts.

        JOTĪ JOT ASTHĀN PĀTSHĀHĪ III, a small marbled pavilion next to Guriāī Asthān, was built on the site of the room in which Gurū Amar Dās died on 1 September 1574. Gurū Rām Dās also died in that room exactly seven years later.

        JANAM ASTHĀN SRĪ GURŪ ARJĀN DEV JĪ is a room, in the same compound as Srī Chubārā Sāhib, where Gurū Arjan was born. The Gurū Granth Sāhib is seated in this room.

        CHUBĀRA BĀBĀ MOHAN JĪ marks the spot where Bābā Mohan, the ascetic son of Gurū Amar Dās, used to live in an upstairs room (chubārā, in Puñjabī). It was here that Gurū Arjan received from Bābā Mohan the pothīs containing hymns for use in the compilation of the Gurū Granth Sāhib. The present room in which the Gurū Granth Sāhib is seated is on the ground floor. Among the relics preserved in the Chubārā Sāhib complex is the palanquin in which the pothīs were carried to Amritsar and then brought back to Goindvāl.

        KHŪH GURŪ RĀM DĀS JĪ ATE JOTĪ JOT ASTHĀN BHĀĪ GURDĀS JĪ is the sign for a separate Gurdwārā, to the west of Srī Chubārā Sāhib, commemorating Bhāī Gurdās, who died here, and Gurū Rām Dās, the khūh or well sunk by whom is still preserved in the compound in front.

        All these shrines in Goindvāl are managed by the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee. A largely-attended three-day fair takes place in the month of September to mark the death anniversary of Gurū Amar Dās.

        GURDWĀRĀ DAMDĀMĀ SĀHIB, 3 km from Goindvāl, also commemorates Gurū Amar Dās who, according to tradition, used to halt here briefly during his daily journey from Goindvāl to Khaḍūr carrying river water for Gurū Aṅgad's morning bath. The present building was constructed in the 1960's by Sant Bhūrīvale, whose followers continue to administer it.


  1. Tārā Siṅgh, Srī Gur Tīrath Saṅgrahi. Amritsar, n.d.
  2. Ṭhākar Siṅgh, Giānī, Srī Gurduāre Darshan. Amritsar, 1923
  3. Giān Siṅgh, Giānī, Twārīkh Gurū Khālsā, Patiala, 1970

Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)