Gurdwara Bangla Sahib
One of the most important historical and sacred pilgrimage destinations of the Sikh comunity, Gurdwara Bangla Sahib is the ‘Haveli’ or palace, where Guru Hari Krishan, the eighth Sikh Guru stayed during his tour to Delhi in 1664. The Guru was entertained as a royal guest by Mirza Raja Jai Singh in this ‘bangla’ (palace), which was built on the model of the existing palace of Raja Jai Singh in Jaipur. Later the architecturally impressive palace was dedicated to the memory of the Guru and has been a place of worship since then. Every day more than seven thousand devotees and visitors come to worship in this Sikh holy shrine.
Legend says that Raja Jai Singh’s chief queen was greatly impressed by the spiritual powers of the child prophet, Guru Hari Krishan. It is said that during his stay in Delhi, diseases like small pox and cholera had broken out in the city. The Guru served the poor and the needy, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. With his spiritual powers he distributed sanctified water to the ailing people, which had a miraculous healing affect on their bodies. To this day water sanctified by the Word of God, sung all day in this temple, is distributed from the holy tank known as Chaubacha Sahib. The Guru died at a young age because according to his followers he took all the diseases in the city upon himself to stop the endemic.
The large main hall has an open central shrine, where a sculpted bronze cupola hangs over a smaller golden dome under which silk sheets are spread out and covered with flowers. This is where the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, is placed. Devotional music is played continuously and relayed through the complex. The Gurdwara complex has a higher secondary school, a museum, a bookstall, a library and a hospital. There is also a holy pond in the complex where people take holy dips and pray to the Guru. The birth of Guru Hari Krishan Sahib and the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh are celebrated here with great reverence.
The two important features of this temple are Sangat congregations and Pangat or community kitchen also known as Guru-ka-langar. Located in the east of the main complex, the community kitchen provides food to all devotees, pilgrims and visitors. More than seven thousand people are served free food by this community kitchen every day.
Visitors need to take off their shoes, cover their head with a scarf and wear clothes that cover the legs and shoulders to enter the main complex. Upon entering the shrine where the holy book is placed, Sikh devotees bow before the Guru Granth Sahib, before finding a place to sit within the prayer hall. Visitors are expected to display their respect to this sacred text. Information regarding the Gurdwara Bangla Sahib can be is offered at the visitors information office.
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee manages the Gurdwara and has over 250 employees who look after the functioning of this place of worship in different shifts. Hundreds of people volunteer and work out of devotion in the gurdwara, every day. The gurdwara has a very good parking facility and a multi-level parking lot is also under construction, which can accommodate more than thousand cars at a time. The complex has all the basic facilities for visitors.
All in all, a visit to this sacred place is very enriching experience. You can feel the devotion, faith, belief and hospitality of the Sikh community as well as receive the blessings of the priests when you visit the Gurdwara Bangla Sahib.