Gurdwara Nanakshahi, Sylhet
An another important place connected with the visit of Guru Nanak Dev Ji is Sylhet. The Gurdwara is a heap of rubble, the land and a building still stands in the name of the Temple.
Gurdwara NanakShahi is situated in Sylhet, Bangladesh a site once visited by Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Guru Nanak visited Dhaka via Mithila, Kant nagar (Dinajpur), Kamroop and Sylhet and he left in for the Deccan via Chittagong, Calcutta and Jagannath Puri (Orrissa). Having witnessed the righteousness of the Devout people that used to come in large numbers from far-flung areas to visit the ancient Dhakeshwari Temple, Guru Nanak made a visit to this location. Guru Nanak came to Dhaka by boat, which anchored at Shivpur Village in the north of Dhaka. Later it took the name of Rayer Bazar, Dhanmandi and turned Dhanmandi Colony after 1961. He succeeded in winning the innocent hearts of the poor working class of people living in the area. The news that Nanak possessed limitless powers of a real spiritual Guru, spread speedily among those people and moved them to come up with due respect for him. Later, Baba Gurditta instructed Almast, an UDasi, to trace Guru Nanak’s stay in Dhaka. Almast did so and at last located a place under Sujatpur mouza, where Dhaka University now lies and then established a ‘Manji’ which was later renamed Gurdwara Nanakshashi. Subsequently, the area assumed its importance and became known as Ramna.
Gurdwara Nanakshashi was originally built by Bhai Natha and modelled after the design of the Yadgar of Nawab Shaesta Khan’s grand daughter Iran Dhukhat alias Paree Bibi, who died a premature death in 1684. The building were completed in 1830. It commemorates the stay of Guru Nanak who held religious discourses at the site, preaching the gospel of one God and universal brotherhood in 1504. After a period of neglect, some essential reforms were made in 1971-72 after the liberation of Bangladesh. In 1988-89 the building was renovated and the outside verandah was constructed for its protection and preservation with contributions received from Guru Nanak’s followers in Bangladesh and other countries. The work was carried out under the able guidance of Sardar Herbeant Singh IAS (Retd.) head of the International Jute Organisation. He left for New Delhi in 1991.
In January 1972, a Sikh delegation headed by General Jagjit Singh Arora called on the then Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman who later paid a visit to the Gurdwara. Before the Gurdwara was built, Bhai Natha took the initiative to have a well dug, a well improved by Mahant Prem Das in 1833. While the state was part of Pakistan, the well was ravaged and filled with earth and squalor. Intruders broke into the temple and looted its original furniture, musical instruments, banister, precious stones and other valuable articles.
During the Baishakhi and Guru Nanak birth anniversary, Sikh Jathas from India visited Guru Nanakshashi and stayed here. Even the foreign Sikh nationals who come to Dhaka on different occasions are allowed to live here and pay their obeisance. After the liberation of Bangladesh the management of Gurdwara Nanakshsahi and other Sikh Shrines in Bangladesh, was handed over to Bangladesh Gurdwara Management Board who conducted its duties from Calcutta. In 1972 the Board appointed Bhai Kartar Singh head Granthi of Gurdwara Nanakshashi to perform the daily religious functions. Bhai Kartar Singh, had been a Granthi at Takhat Patna Sahib.