LAKHNAUR, 10 km south of Ambālā City (30º-23'N, 76º-47'E), was the ancestral village of Mātā Gujarī, mother of Gurū Gobind Siṅgh. Returning in 1670 to Paṭnā after his long eastern journey, Gurū Tegh Bahādur asked his family to travel straight to Lakhnaur, while he himself made a detour and went to Delhi before re-joining them there. Mātā Gujarī accompanied by her four-year-old son, Gobind Siṅgh, named Gobind Rāi at birth, and escorted by her brother, Kirpāl Chand, and other Sikhs, arrived at Lakhnaur on 13 September 1670, and stayed here for about six months with her elder brother, Bhāī Mehar Chand, and Bhāī Jeṭhā, the local masand or saṅgat leader. It was here that a Muslim divine, Sayyid Shāh Bhīkh or Bhīkhan Shāh, of Ṭhaskā, then residing at Ghuṛām, an old town about 30 km southeast of Paṭiālā, came, guided by his spiritual vision, to pay homage to Gobind Siṅgh. Bhīkhan Shāh, in order to know the aptitude and religious leanings of the future Gurū, offered two small earthen pots containing sweets to him, writing one in his own mind for Hindus and the other for the Muslims. Gobind Siṅgh placed his hands one on the either pot, and, having sent for another one, placed it between the two, thus signifying that not only would he show equal respect to the Hindus as well as to the Muslims, he would add a third one to the number. The Sayyid convinced of the divine light in the child paid his respectful obeisance to him. Another Muslim mystic, Pīr 'Araf Dīn, is also mentioned as having bowed before him perceiving the manifestation of heavenly grace in his earthly presence.

         Water in the wells in Lakhnaur was brackish and lukewarm. The only well having sweet and cold water was outside the village and it had long been in disuse as its walls had caved in. At Mātā Gujarī's instance, a new narrower well was dug within the old ruined one, thus reviving this source of cold sweet water. The well, used by the villagers to this day, is reverently called Mātājī da Khūh or Mātā Gujarī da Khūh (The holy mother's well) .

         The place where the Gurū had stayed was maintained for a time by someone from Mātā Gujarī's paternal line, and later by one Bābā Harbakhsh Siṅgh who is said to have looked after it for sixty years. This was a period of great turmoil for the Sikhs. The persecution campaign against them reached its climax in the Great Holocaust of 1762. The Muslim chief of Koṭ Kachhūā, near Lakhnaur, had also participated in this massacre. During the retaliatory operations launched by the Sikhs in 1763-64, Koṭ Kachhūā was razed to the ground and its debris transported to Lakhnaur to construct a shrine in the form of a large havelī. After the British occupation of the Punjab in March 1849, the rulers of Paṭiālā acquired Lakhnaur and a few neighbouring villages from the British, surrendering some territory of their own in exchange. After 1947, the historic shrine in Lakhnaur was first placed under the Paṭiālā and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU) Dharm Arth Board and later, consequent upon the merger of PEPSU with the Punjab, under the Shiromaṇī Gurdwārā Parbandhak Committee.

         The main building of the gurdwārā is constructed on a high plinth in the centre of the havelī. It is itself in the form of an inner havelī consisting of the shrine proper in the centre, a narrow compound, and rooms along three of the walls. A flight of steps leads to the inner shrine which has a square sanctum with a high lotus dome and four smaller decorative domes at the corners. The whole interior, including the cupola is tastefully decorated with designs and patterns in colour. The exterior, too, is adorned with round pilasters, door-sized niches, alcoves, and a wide curved coping. Sikhs gather here in large numbers on the first of each Bikramī month, when special dīvāns take place. An annual fair on the occasion of Dussehrā commemorates the special ceremony held on this day in 1670 when offerings were made to Gobind Siṅgh by his maternal uncle, Mehar Chand, and Bhāī Jeṭhā the masand, and other Sikhs.


    Shahi, Joginder Singh, Sikh Shrines in India and Abroad. Faridabad, 1978

Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)