Gurudwara Data Bandi Chor – Gwalior
Sri HarGobind the sixth Guru was detained in the Fort of Gwalior by the order of Emperor Jahangir. The cause of detention, it is said, was that the fanatical Muslim officers, particularly those under the influence of Naqshbandi cult, were alarmed by the Guru’s new policy of militarization. They poisoned the mind of Jahangir, who otherwise about that time had soft corner for Guru. He was summoned to Delhi and was asked to pay a fine of rupees two lakhs which had been imposed on his father and which the latter had refused to pay. As Guru HarGobind showed little inclination to pay the fine, he was sent for detention to Gwalior Fort where the Mughal Emperor used to keep their political prisoners. Obviously the cause of detention was political. Non payment of fine was merely an excuse.
According to Sikh chronicles, the detenition was for a period of 40 days or two months. The latter period seems more likely The persuasive efforts of Bhai Jetha at Jahangir’s court and may be the exercise of influence with the Emperor by the Muslim saint Hairat Mian Mir, a friend of Guru Arjun, brought an early end to his detention. The release came in the nature of general amnesty which also brought the end of the imprisonment of 52 Rajas who had been kept there. The Guru came to be known as ‘Bandi Chhor’ The Grand emancipator.
A magnificent Gurdwara has been built in the Gwalior Fort in memory of the sixth Guru. It is called Gurdwara Bandichhor. Pilgrims from all over the country visit this Gurdwara to pay homage to Guru HarGobind
Gwalior is a well-known city, 120 kilometres south of Agra and well connected by rail and road. Its historical fort built atop a hill is a prominent landmark overlooking the town below. Mughal rulers used this fort as a prison for chiefs and nobles of status. Emperor Jahangir ordered the incarceration of Guru HarGobind here at the instigation of the Guru’s detractors. However, when the Sufi Saint Mian Mir and other sympathizers interceded, the Emperor not only ordered the Guru’s release but also sought the internee nobles as a man of God, pious as well as brave. When they heard of his release, they looked up to him for succour. Guru HarGobind thereat refused to be released unless other internees were also let out. The emperor agreed to release as many of them as could come out holding the fringe of the Guru’s rule. The Guru, narrate the chroniclers, had a long robe made with many strings attached to it which enabled all the fifty-two captives to come out of the fort with him. This earned for the Guru the epithet Data Bandi Chhor, lit. the munificent liberator. Chroniclers differ about the dates and duration of the Guru’s detention. But it appears that it was only for a few months sometime between 1617 and 1619. A Shrine bearing the name was established inside the fort. It was looked after by Muslim priests until the Sikhs acquired possession and established a Gurdwara after the Independence in 1947. The original Shrine in the form of a marbled platform is still maintained near the entrance to Gurdwara Data Bandi Chhor Patshahi 6 Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji, as it is now named. The present building complex spread over six acres was constructed under the supervision of Sant Jhanda Singh and Utam Singh Mauni of Khadur Sahib during the 1970s and 1980s. The principal building is a six-storey edifice near the old Shrine. The sanctum is on one side of a high-ceilinged, almost square hall on the ground floor. There is a basement below of the same size as the hall and four storeys of room above the sanctum. Guru ka Langar with its vast dining hall and residential rooms for staff and pilgrims are in a separate, adjoining compound. It is a peculiarity of this Gurdwara to have two sarvoars, one each for gents and ladies.