Gurudwara Hemkunt Sahib
Gurdwara Hemkunt in the Himalayas is also regarded as one of the holiest places of the Sikhs. It was there that Sri Guru Gobind Singh the tenth and last Guru of the Sikhs is reported to have meditated in his previous life. In ‘Bachitar Natak’ the great Guru relates his story in the following words-“I Shall now relate my own story, how God sent me into this world. I was busy performing penance on the hills of’Hemkunt’ where seven peaks are prominent. The place is called ‘Sapt Sring’ where King Pandu had performed Yoga, there I practised austerity and worshipped the god of death”
“My father and mother meditated on the incomprehensible. They both practised the highest yoga through diverse spiritual efforts. Their Devout service in the love of God pleased the Almighty who commanded me to take human form in this world. I did not like to come. God sent me into the world with a mandate saying., ‘I cherish thee as my son and send thee to establish the path of truth. Go into the world and establish virtue and keep the people, away from evil.’ When my father came to Triveni (Allahabad) he daily Devoted himself to meditation and charity. There at Allahabad the dazzling light manifested itself into human form.”
This is the story about ‘Hemkunt’ the holy place hallowed by Guru Gobind Singh in his previous life. It was discovered in the early thirties by Pandit Tara Singh Narotam. A small hut was constructed there in 1936 by the side of the lake with bluish green waters. The place is of enchanting beauty surrounded by tall trees and flowers bursting from every bush. Next year in 1937 Guru Granth Sahib was installed by the Devotee Sikhs in this hut, where now stands a beautiful Gurdwara situated at a height of 4,636 meters in the Garhwal region of Uttar Pradesh.
Now the Gurdwara is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year in fair weather. One has to go to Rishikesh from where 300 km journey to Hemkunt starts. The pilgrims move along Dev Prayag, Srinagar (Garhwal), Rudra Prayag, Chamoli, Joshimath, Gobind Ghat and Ghagariya. Before reaching Hemkunt pilgrims pass through a flower-decked valley called Valley of Flowers. Forests of silver birch, fir, pine and sycamore wear mantles of snow in winter. The snowy bluish waters of the lake of Hemkunt with backdrop of Himalayan peaks make a visit to this holy place a memorable one.