Sunday, 13 February 2022

157. Gurdwara Singh Sabha (Rawalpindi)

In my previous article, I took you on a visit to a historic gurdwara in Rawalpindi, gurdwara Narankari. In this article we shall visit another famous gurdwara of Rawalpindi, it is known as Gurdwara Singh Sabha. This gurwara is located in Raja Bazar, a very busy area. Currently a school Zia ul Uloom for boys is established here. The gurdwara is located at 33°36'54.6"N 73°03'21.3"E.

Singh Sabha was a reform movement and was launched in 1870s. The purpose was to restore the prestige of the Sikh religion, which the Sikhs felt was lost after the fall of the Sikh state in Punjab. Sikhs were converting to other religions and the Sikh community felt the need to start a movement to present the Sikh religion in its true and original form. Proselytizing campaigns of Arya Samaj was particularly targeting Sikh converts and attacks on Sikh religions continued. 

The first Singh Sabha conference was held in Amritsar in 1873. The movement gradually became popular and by the end of century had over 100 branches all over Punjab. The movement faced opposition from many Sikhs, who held different views on some issues facing the community. However, the movement gradually became successful in its aims and met the biggest success in 1925 when its followers regained the control of Sikh gurdwaras from mahants and other elements not truly adherents of Sikh religion. For more details kindly check Wikipedia

The passage to gurdwara is almost hidden behind shops and a mosque. A part of the mosque is extended into the premises of the gurdwara. Most of the old sections have disappeared and in that place, new structures of the school rooms have been built. However, the main Darbar Hall still exists and tells the story of its past. But the courtyard in front of the hall is covered with a new concrete structure. 

The main building, Darbar Hall. (25.01.2022.)

The Beutiful veranda of Darbar Hall. (25.01.2022.)

Old wooden doors. (25.01.2022.)

The writer. (25.01.2022.)

੧ ਓ

ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਿੰਘ ਸਭਾ ਰਾਵਲਪਿੰਡੀ
ਇਸ ਗੁਰਦਵਾਰੇ ਦਾ 
ਬੁਨਿਅਦੀ ਪਥਰ
ਪੋਹ ਸੁਦੀ ਸਪਤਮੀ ਸੰ ਨਾਨਕ ਸ਼ਾਹੀ ੪੫੮
੩੦ ਦਿਸਮਬਰ ਸੰ ੧੯੨੭ ਪੋਹ ਦਿਨ ੧੬ ਸੰ ੧੯੮੪
ਸ਼੍ਰੀਮਾਨ ਸਸਰਦਾਰ ਮੋਹਨ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਰਈਸ
ਰਾਵਲਪਿੰਡੀ ਨੇ ਰਖਆ

اک اونکار
سری گرو سنگھ سبھا راولپنڈی
اس گوردوارے دا
بنیادی پتھر
پوہ سُدی سپتمی نانک شاہی 458
30 دسمبر 1927،  27 پوہ دن 14 سمت  1984
شریمان سردار موہن سنگھ جی رئیس
راولپنڈی نے رکھیا

Guru Singh Sabha
The corner stone of this gurdwara was laid by Shriman Sardar Mohan Singh ji of Rawalpindi,
in 458 Nanak Shahi, Samvat Poh 14, 1984;  30 December, 1927 AD, 

੧ ਓ
੧੦੦੦੦ ਸ੍ਰੀਮਤੀ ਮਾਈ ਕਰਤਾਰ ਦੇਈ ਜੀ ਨੇ
ਆਪਣੇ ਸਵਰਗਵਾਸੀ ਪਤੀ
ਚੌਧਰੀ ਕਰਮ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਸਿਆਲੀ ਦੀ ਯਾਦ
ਵਿਚ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਿੰਘ ਸਭਾ   ਰਾਵਲਪਿੰਡੀ ਨੂਂ
ਅਰਦਾਸ ਕਰਾਈ ੧੨ ਅਗਸਤ ੧੯੨੭

اک  اونکار
10000  روپے  شریمتی  مای  کردار  دئی  جی  نے
آپڑیں  سورگباسی  پتی
چودھری  کرم  سنگھ  جی  سیالی  دی  یاد
وچ  سری  گرو  سنگھ  سبھا   راولپنڈی  نوں
ارداس  کرائی ،    12  اگست  1927

Rs10,000 Shrimati Mai Kartar Dayi, rendered service to Guru Singh Sabha, in the memory of his heavenly abode husband, Chaudhry Karam Singh ji Siali. On 12 August, 1927.

Darbar Hall. (25.01.2022.)

Prakash Asthan. (25.01.2022.)

Palki in the storeroom. (25.01.2022.)

A structure at the premises, known to be a Hindu temple. But probably a Smadhi. (25.01.2022.)

Entrance of teh school. (25.01.2022.)

Once a hub of great activities this historic place is almost lost to time and its vagaries. Now seldom any visitor comes to this place and returns with a heavy heart. I wish, we could have preserved this and many other such places for our neighbours and also for our future generations to see, how was our past and how our future can be. 

Tariq Amir

February 14, 2022.

156. Gurdwara Narankari (Rawalpindi)

Before 1947 Rawalpindi was a multi-religious city. A large number of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs lived together. The following table would give you an idea of the composition of the religious demographics:

































All that changed in 1947 within a few months. The anarchy that engulfed India in general and Punjab, in particular, forced almost all the religious minorities to leave their homes, businesses, lands, and religious places. However, if you visit the older parts of any major town or city in Punjab you will find a very large number of houses, shops, commercial buildings and even religious places left behind by Hindus and Sikhs of western Punjab, as Muslims had to do in the Eastern.

This article is about a gurdwara in Rawalpindi city, which not only has religious importance but historic significance as well. It is situated in Narankari Bazar in Namak Mandi street, a very busy commercial area of Rawalpindi. Currently, it is being used as a government school, so unlike some other similar buildings is accessible, though you have to take permission, which sometimes is not easy. The name of the school is Simla Muslim Boys High School. The gurdwara is located at 33°36'53.7"N, 73°03'17.9"E
The history and the religious significance of this gurdwara is given on the following website:
The darbar hall and Palki Sahib are still intact. However, other related buildings like langar khana and rooms for yatris have not survived the changing times. I visited this gurdwara on the 25th of January, 2022.

Darbar Hall of the gurdwara Narankari. (25.01.2022.)

Another view of the Darbar Hall. (25.01.2022.)

Palki Room. Nishan Sahib is visible on the left.  (25.01.2022.)

Palki Sahib. (25.01.2022.)

A room beside Darbar Hall. (25.01.2022.)
(Above the door, the year 1976 Samvat is given i.e. 1919AD)

Entrance of the shool. (25.01.2022.)

A view from the Namak Mandi street. (25.01.2022.)

੧ ਓ
ਚਹੁਜੁਗ ਪਸਰੀ ਸਾਚੀ ਸੋਇ  ਨਮਰਤਾ ਜਨ ਪਰਗਟ ਹੋਏ
੫੦ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਭਾਈ ਬਰਿਆਮ ਸਿੰਘ ਬਰਨਾਲਾ

The first is a holy Shabd of Guru Granth Sahib. The second line reads as:
 " 50 Rs donated for service by Bhai Bariam Singh Barnala".

੧ ਓ

ਭੰਨ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ
੧੦੦ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਭਾਈ ਦੇਵਾ ਸਿੰਘ 
2nd Line: "Rs 100 rendered in donated by Bhai Dewa Singh"
੧੫੦ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਮਰਗੋਲ ਸੰਗਤ ਬਦਾਤੋਫਾ
(The second line roughly translated, tells about the collective donation of Rs 150)

੧ ਓ

ਨਾਮਰਤਾ ਸਤਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਹੈਕਲ ਜੁਗ ਬੋਹਿ ਥੁਹੋਇ
੫੦ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਆਤਮਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਕੋਹਮਰੀ
2nd Line: Rs 50 donated for service by Aatma Singh Kohmri. 
੧੨੫ ਪਿੰਜਰਾ ੧ ਰਹਲਾ ਸਿੰਘ : ਮੁਖਾ ਸਿੰਘ
(Two persons Rahel Singh and Mukha Singh donated Rs 125 and some kind of "cage" probably some kind of a structure is also mentioned)

੧ ਓ

ਭੰਨ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ
ਸ੍ਰੀ ਸਤਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬਰਰਤਾ
ਮਹਾਰਾਜ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਪਾਲਕੀ ਟਹਿਲ
------ ਬਾਬਾ ਗੁਰਦਿਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ
(In the last line name of Baba Gurdit Singh ji is mentioned)

੫੦ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਵਸਾਖ ਸਿੰਘ ਸੋਭਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਵਾਸੀ ਕੋਹ ਮਰੀ
Rs 50 donated for service  by Waskh Singh Sobha Singh residents of Murree Hills

੫੦ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਕਲਿਆਨ ਸਿੰਘ ਆਤਮਾ ਸਿੰਘ ਮਾਈ ਮਥਰੋ
Rs 50 donated for service by Kaliaan Singh, Aatma Singh, Mai Mathro

੫੦ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਗਣੇਸ਼ ਦਾਸ ਜੈਹ ਸਿੰਘ 
50 Rs serivce rendered by Ganesh Das Jaeh Singh

੫੦ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਗੋਮਾ ਸੁਪਤਨੀ ਭਾਈ ਸੁਜਾਨ ਸਿੰਘ
50 Rs donated for service by Goma wife of Bhai Sujaan Singh

ਇਸ ਪਥਰ ਦੀ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਅਰਜਨ ਸਿੰਘ . ਅਤਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਨਿਰਕਾਰੀ
ਵਾਸੀ ਰਾਵਲਪਿੰਡੀ
This stone donated for service by Arjan Singh, Atar Singh Nirkari
residents of Rawalpindi

੨੫ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਜਵਾਲਾ ਸ--ਇ
Rs 25 donated for service by Jawala -------

੧ ਓ ਧਨ ਧਨ ਨਿਰੰਕਾਰ ਜੀ ਸਹਾਈ - ਇਸ ਚੋਕਾਠ ਦੀ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਸੁੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਠੇਕੇਦਾਰ ਕੋਠਾ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਸਤਿ ਗੁਰੂ ਸਾਹਿਬ --- ਜੀ

ਪੁਤਰ ਨਾਨੂ ਸਿੰਘ - ਵਿਸਾਖ ੧ ੧੯੬੬ --------

(Roughly Translates: The service for this door of the house of Guru Nanak sahib ji was rendered by Sunder Singh s/o Nanu Singh. Wisakh 1, 1966 Samvat. 1909 AD)

50 ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ  ------- ਸੁਪਤਨੀ ਨਿਹਾਲ ਸਿੰਘ ਦੈਰਾਮੀ ਰਾਵਲਪਿੰਡੀ
Rs 50  donated by -------- wife of Nihal Singh Daurami Rawalpindi 

50 ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ ਨਿਹਾਲ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੈਹ ਸਿੰਘ ਦੈਰਾਮਿਆ
Rs 50 donated for service by Nihal Singh Jaeh Singh Daurami

੧ ਓ ਸਤਿ ਗੁਰਪ੍ਰਸਾਦ
ਫਰਸ਼ ਦੀ ਟਹਿਲ ਕਰਾਈ

੨੦ ਸੁੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ

20 Sundar Singh

੨੦ ਭਾਈ ਦਿਤੂ

20 Bhai Ditu

੨੦ ਥਾਨ ਸਿੰਘ

20 Thaan Singh

੨੦ ਗੁਲਾਬ ਸਿੰਘ

20 Gulab Singh

੨੦ ਹੀਰਾ ਸਿੰਘ

20 Heera Singh

੨੦ ਮੂਲਾ ਸਿੰਘ

20 Mula Singh

੨੦ ਗੋਪੀ ਚੰਦ

Gopi Chand

੨੦ ਭਗਤ ਸੰਘ

20 Bhagat Singh

੨੦ ਜੈ ਰਾਮ ਖੋਕਾ ਰਾਮ

20 Jai Ram Khoka Ram

੨- ਚੰਦਾ ਸਿੰਘ

2- Chanda Singh

੧੦ ਸੁਖਾ ਸਿੰਘ

10 Sukha Singh

੧੦ ਸੰਤ ਸਿੰਘ

10 Sant Singh

੧੦ ਪਾਲ ਸਿੰਘ

10 Pal Singh

੧੦ ਨਥਾ ਸਿੰਘ

10 Natha Singh

੧੦ ਦੁਨੀ ਚੰਦ

10 Duni Chand

੧੪ਭਾਈ ਜੱਸਾ ਸਿੰਘ

14 Bhai Jassa Singh

੨੦ ਮਾਈ ਚੰਨੋ

20 Mai Channo

੨੦ ਮਾਈ ਪਾਰਬਤੀ

20 Mai Parbati

੧੦ ਮਾਈ ਪਾਰਬਤੀ

10 Mai Parbati

੨੦ ਮਾਈ ਬਿਸੋ

20 Mai Biso

੨੦ ਮਾਈ ਗੰਗਾ----

20 Mai Ganga ----

੧੦ ਮਾਈ ਜਵਾਲੀ

10 Mai Jawali

੧੦ ਮਾਈ ਰਾਜ ----

10 Mai Raj ----

੧੦ ਮਾਈ ਰਜੀ

10 Mai Raji

੧੦ ਮਾਈ ਨਾਨਕੀ

10 Mai Nanaki

੨੫ ਪਰਚੂਨ

25 Retailer

੧੫ ਭਾਗ ਸੁਲਖਨੀ

15 Bhag Sulkhani

At two places, the years are given as 1966 and 1976 Sambat, i.e. 1909 and 1919 AD. That gives us the time during which different parts of the gurdwara were constructed. This gurdwara, being the birthplace of Nirankari sect, carries great importance in the history of the Sikh religion. Unfortunately, it has not got the attention it deserves. But unlike some other places, it is not still too late. Concerned authorities should take steps to preserve this important piece of history. 

Tariq Amir

February 13, 2022.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

155. Heritage Museum Islamabad (Lok Virsa)

Islamabad the beautiful capital of Pakistan has many museums and the biggest of them all is the Heritage Museums. Frankly speaking, I was not expecting much from my visit to the Heritage Museum. After all what could be there on display, earthen pots, a few gaudy dresses and perhaps some old-fashioned musical instruments? But I could not have been more wrong. So when I finally visited this museum on 9th January 2022, a big surprise was awaiting me, although a very pleasant one.

Before going inside the museum, let me tell you something about this museum. It was opened in 1974 to showcase the culture and heritage of Pakistan. At present, it is the biggest museum in the capital. It is located near Shakarparian. Two other museums, the Museum of Natural History and the Pakistan Monument Museum are located nearby. So, all these together make this area a magnet for tourists. 

A traditional house. (09.01.2022.)

The main entrance of the museum. (09.01.2022.)

A village scene of a well with a water wheel. 09.01.2022.)

A bullock cart. (09.01.2022.)

A small village home. (09.01.2022.)

Now let us go inside and explore its marvels. The building is not impressive from the outside and does not give an idea of its true size. But when you start visiting its galleries you are not only impressed by the items on display or how they are displayed but also by the size of this museum. It covers every aspect of human life in this region from ancient times to the present. How the people lived in Indus Valley Civilization or Gandhara Civilization up to the present time.

The collection of items is simply huge.  Every aspect of the heritage of Pakistan is touched upon and very beautifully displayed.  Galleries are dedicated to displaying different facets of our heritage. One of them shows the ancient civilizations of Indus Valley and Gandhara and then the advent of Islam. It showcases the life during those times with the help of life size models of people in the attire of those days and going about their daily life and performing their usual tasks.


A scene of Gandhara Civilization. (09.01.2022.)

Buddha. (09.01.2022.)

A Buddhist monastery. (09.01.2022.)

Living Gandhara. (09.01.2022.)

The oldest civilization, Mehrgarh. (09.01.2022.)

Indus Valley Civilization. (09.01.2022.)

Indus Valley Civilization. 

Artifacts of Islamic Civilization. (09.01.2022.)

One gallery displays very beautifully made dolls in traditional dresses. Naturally a big hit among the young girls. These dolls are an excellent example of the skills of our artisans. 

As the basic purpose of the museum is to show how the people live in Pakistan, so literally the lifestyle of each and every part of the country is on display. From the village life in Punjab to the life in the Thar desert of Sindh and the boat people of Keejhar lake. Nomads of Balochistan to the mountainous people of KP have their own pavilions. Lifestyle lf the people of Kashmir and northern areas has also been presented.

A home in the Thar Desert. (09.01.2022.)

A boat in the Keenjhar Lake. (09.01.2022.)

Probably a home in the Kohistan district. (09.01.2022.)

A gunsmith in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. (09.01.2022.)

A nomad family. (09.01.2022.)

A beautiful gallery. (09.01.2022.)

A home in norther areas. (09.01.2022.)

A pakhtun man. (09.01.2022.)

Nomads of Balochistan. (09.01.2022.)

A Sindhi home. (09.01.2022.)

Pakistan is famous for its folk tales of love and romance. The models of characters of famous love stories of Heer Ranjha, Dhola Maru, Haani Shah Muree etc., are on display. The characters are wearing traditional dresses and are set in the areas where they lived. 

Heer Ranjha. (09.01.2022.)

Dhola Maru. (09.01.2022.)

Haani Shah Mureed. (09.01.2022.)

Dresses of people are one of the most important part of their culture. Pakistan is home to people of many ethnicities. The same diversity is found in their dresses. Naturally the museum has a huge collection of regional dresses from all regions of Pakistan and these colourful and beautifully embroidered and painted dresses, especially of ladies, make a great spectacle.

Nothing explains more clearly our lifestyle than our furniture and household items. There is no dearth of these items in the museum as well. From colourfully painted chairs to the rocking beds of children are part of the furniture collection on display.


Pakistan is famous for its wonderful woodworks. And when we talk about the woodworks nothing is more fascinating than the traditional wooded carved door. It is an art that excelled in the past. Fortunately still many great specimens of this fading art have been preserved and some of them are on display. One such door, brought from Bhera is truly a masterpiece of the woodwork.


A wooden door from Bhera. 

Calligraphy is an integral part of Islamic civilization. This art has always been popular in this region and has produced numerous people who excelled in this art. Our mosques, shrines and even some houses are often decorated with calligraphy. In this museum displays many works of calligraphic writings.


The predominant religion of our country is Islam. So a gallery is dedicated to this aspect of our culture. So our visit would be incomplete if I do not mention some very beautifully handwritten Qurans on display. 

The museum is so large that in addition to Pakistan it covers the culture of our neighbouring countries like China, Turkey, Iran and Central Asian countries as well. One big gallery is reserved to show the culture of these friendly countries, which is indeed very interesting.

At the end I must say I have not been able to cover even one fourth part of all that is on display in this wonderful museum. Seeing is believing, so if you have not visited it before, plan a visit at the first available opportunity. The museum is open from 10 am to 7 pm, everyday except Mondays, on Fridays it has a break from 12:30 to 02:00. It is a great package of fun and learning.

Tariq Amir

January 18, 2022.