Nanded, is one of the important centres of Sikh pilgrimage situated on the left bank of River Godavari, is a district town in Maharashtra (Western State in India). It is a railway station on the Manmad-kachiguda section of the south central railway, and is also connected by road with other major towns of the region. The sikhs generally refer to it as Hazur Sahib or Abichal Nagar. Both of these names apply, in fact, to the principal shrine, but are extended in common usage to refer to the town itself. Hazur Sahib is a title of reverence, meaning Exalted Presence; Abichal Nagar: Abichal= Immortal,everlasting and Nagar Town or City. The town ranks as one of the takhts, or seat of religious authority and legislation for the Sikhs. Nanded, which was visited both by Guru Gobind Singh, claims several Sikh shrines of historical importance.
At the time of Emperor Bahadur Shah’s march towards the south via Rajputana, Guru Gobind Singh accompanied him with his own disciples and followers. Crossing the Tapti in mid-June and Ban Ganga on 13 August, the two camps arrived at Nanded towards the end of August 1708. Bahadur Shah, after a brief halt, crossed the Godavari and proceeded on to Golkonda, but the Guru stayed behind at Nanded. Here he converted a Vaishnavite Bairagi recluse, Madho Das, also known as Lachman Dev, who after initiation into the Khalsa fold, received the name of Banda Singh.
To Nanded came from the Punjab two Pathans, on the trail of Guru Gobind Singh . They had been hired by Wazir Khan of Sirhind, who felt threatened by the conciliatory negotiations going on between the Emperor and Guru Gobind Singh . These Pathans, the name of one of them is recorded as Jamshaid Khan, dissembling as interested listeners, started attending the evening divan or service. Finding the Guru alone in his tent one day, they fell on him inflicting a stab wound. Before the blow could be repeated, the Guru despatched one of the Pathans with his own sabre. His companion fell under the swords of the Sikhs who had meanwhile rushed in. Guru Gobind Singh ’s wound healed, but it broke out again as he was stretching a powerful bow. Bestowing the succession on the Granth Sahib and thus ending the line of personal Gurus, Guru Gobind Singh passed away on 7 October 1708.
Guru Gobind Singh had desired one of his Sikhs, Santokh Singh, who supervised the community kitchen, to remain in Nanded and continue running the Guru ka Langar. A number of other Sikhs also decided to stay back. They built a small shrine in memory of Guru Gobind Singh and installed the Guru Granth Sahib in it.
Around 1823, Raja Chandu Lal, Diwan of Hyderabad state, had the management of the shrine made over to the Udasis. He also secured for the shrine an endowment of about 525 acres of land. In 1832 Maharaja Ranjit Singh built on the site a two-storeyed gurdwara, with a golden dome. During this time, Sikh artisans and workmen came to Nanded in large numbers, and many of them settled here permanently. Additionally, the Nizam enlisted a troop of Sikhs in his army. With this influx of Sikh population, the Udasi influence receded. Sikhs assumed the responsibility for religious services in the shrine at Nanded, whereas the administration was taken over by the Nizam’s government.
The control of the main shrine and other gurdwaras at Nanded was transferred to a 17-member Gurdwara Board, with a 5-member Managing Committee constituted under the Nanded Sikh Gurdwaras Act passed on 20 September 1956 by Hyderabad state legislature.
A chakra (quoit), a broad sword, a steel bow, a steel arrow, a gurz (heavy club with a large spherical knob), a small gilded kirpan and five gilded swords are on display in the sanctum of Takht Sachkhand as Guru Gobind’s relics.
Gurdwara Hira Ghat Sahib is on top of the left bank of the River Godavari about 9 km northeast of Nanded town. This is the spot where Guru Gobind Singh first set up camp on arrival at Nanded. As the tradition goes, one day Emperor Bahadur Shah who came to call on him presented him with a hira, or diamond. The Guru cast it into the river. Bahadur Shah felt offended. He thought that being a faquir the Guru did not know the value of the stone. The Guru invited the Emperor to look into the water. The latter did so and was astonished to see heaps of diamonds lying at the bottom of the river. Cleansed of his pride, he bowed at the Guru’s feet. On that site stands Gurdwara Hira Ghat.
Gurdwara Mata Sahib, also on the river bank is half a kilometre southeast of Gurdwara Hira Ghat. It marks the place where tents were pitched for Mata Sahib Devan, Guru Gobind Singh ’s wife, who had accompanied him during his journey to the South. While the Guru stayed at Hira Ghat, the langar which was supervised by Mata Sahib Devan was established here. Subsequently the langar was looked after by Baba Nidhan Singh. The langar continues to this day and is run by the Nihangs under the overall control of Gurdwara Board Takht Sachkhand. The building in which is installed the Guru Granth Sahib was constructed in 1976-77. Other buildings are older. Among them is the angitha, memorial on the cremation spot, in memory of Baba Mit Singh Nihang who died here on 2 Kattak 2001 Bk (17 October 1944.)
Gurdwara Shikar Ghat Sahib is situated on top of a hillock, about 300 metres from the left bank of the River Godavari. Guru Gobind Singh used this site as a starting point for his hunting (shikar) excursions. A legend has grown up that the Guru emancipated here the soul of one Bhai Mula who had been under an anathema since the time of Guru Nanak that he would continue in the cycle of birth and death until released by the Tenth Nanak. This was accompanied when Guru Gobind Singh killed a hare at the place marked by Gurdwara Shikar Ghat. The old shrine on this spot was rebuilt in 1971 by Sant Baba Jivan Singh and Baba Dalip Singh who also constructed the approach road as well as the bridge over the River Godavari. The building, a simple, but elegant, monument, is at one end of a huge walled compound which also encloses a bathing tank. The square-shaped gurdwara is mounted ov by a lotus dome with decorative domed pavilions at the corners and small solid domelets on all four sides. The entire exterior, including the domes, is lined with white marble slabs. The hall, where the Guru Granth Sahib is seated on a canopied throne of white marble, has a marble floor, with walls panelled with marble slabs and a ceiling of pure-white glazed tiles. The shrine is managed by the Gurdwara Board Takht Sachkhand.
Gurdwara Nagina Ghat Sahib is on the left bank of Godavari to the southwest of Takht Sachkhand. The legend connected with this shrine bears close similarity to that of Gurdwara Hira Ghat. Here, it is said, Guru Gobind Singh flung into the river a jewel presented by a Vanjara Sikh, proud of his rich offering. As the Guru asked him to look into the water he merchant saw, to his amazement, heaps of glittering jewels, far superior in excellence to the one he had offered.
The present building of the gurdwara was constructed by Gulab Singh Sethi of New Delhi. It was completed on 13 April 1968. The main hail has a canopied throne of white marble where the Guru Granth Sahib is installed. The shrine is adminsitered by the Gurdwara Takht Sachkhand.
Gurdwara Baba Banda Bahadur Ghat Sahib marks the site of the hermitry of Madho Das Bairagi, renamed Banda Singh after he had received the Khalsa rites. Guru Gobind Singh reached the place on 3 September 1708. Madho Das was not then present. He sat on the Bairagi’s cot and asked the Sikhs to kill some of his goats for food. Madho Das was furious at this profanation of his monastery and burnt with the desire to chastise the strange visitor for his temerity. But no sooner had he set his eyes on the Guru than all his anger was gone; so was his sorcerous will of which he was greatly proud. He fell at the Guru’s feet and submitted: “Myself I give unto you; I am your banda (slave).” Banda Singh was admitted to the vows and insignia of the Khalsa and was sent on 5 October 1708 to the Punjab by Guru Gobind Singh , accompanied by a few chosen Sikhs.
The Gurdwara Banda Ghat, as it is commonly known, is a single flat-roofed room with a seat for the Guru Granth Sahib. It is controlled by the Gurdwara Board Takht Sachkhand.
Gurdwara Mal Tekri Sahib is to the north-east of Takht Sachkhand. The place derives its name from an old mound known previously as Chakri Mal or Mal Tilla. According to local tradition, Guru Nanak, while journeying in the South, visited the spot and discoursed here with a Muslim faqir, Lakkar Shah, who lived on this mound. Guru Gobind Singh is believed to have unearthed an old treasure hidden in the mound and distributed part of it to his soldiers at Gurdwara Sangat Sahib burying the remainder again here.
The Sikhs established on the site a Manji Sahib. The present gurdwara, built after a judicial decision upholding the Sikhs’ claim to the land given on 7 December 1929, consists of a single flat-roofed room with an all-round verandah, inside a fenced compound. In the centre of the room is installed the Guru Granth Sahib, attended by a granthi provided by Takht Sachkhand. Not far from the gurdwara is the grave of Faqir Lakkar Shah.
Gurdwara Sangat Sahib, probably named after a Sikh sangat which existed at Nanded prior to the visit of Guru Gobind Singh , is near the riverbank towards the eastern end of the old town. It is said that the treasure unearthi at Mal Tekri was brought here and distributed by the Guru, not in counted number of coins but in shieldfuls.
The gurdwara is an old flat-roofed room with a low dome. Some old weapons are displayed on a platform centre of the room. They include a shield believed to be the one with which the treasure was distributed The Guru Granth Sahib is installed in the narrow space between the centre platform and the wall.
Bunga Mai Bhago Ji marks the site of Mai Bhago’s residence. It is a large room within the Gurdwara Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Sahib, to the east of the central shrine. Besides the Guru Granth weapons, including large-sized muskets and a mortar, plus a palanquin are on display in the room .
Angitha Bhai Daya Singh and Dharam Singh. Bhai Daya Singh and Bhai Dharam singh were Panj Piare. They survived the action at Chamkaur and came out of the fortress with Guru Gobind Singh they were sent to deliver the Guru’s letter, Zafarnamah, to Emperor Aurangzib. They travelled to the South and reached Nanded where they later died. The angitha, or place of cremation, is marked by a small room within the compound of Bunga Mai Bhago.
Nishaan IV 2001 Pages 33-35.