Gurudwara Rakab Ganj -New Delhi
On the fateful day a sword of executioner Jalaudin of Samana, struck with a thud. The head of Guru Tegh Bahadur was cut off and people cried in utter helplessness. This tragedy took place on November 11, 1675, in Chandni Chowk, Delhi under orders of Emperor Aurangzeb. The.sky was overcast with dark clouds and a terrible duststorm followed. In the midst of invisibilty caused by duststorm,a disciple of the Guru took away the head of the great martyr, and ran away to a place of safety. Covering a 500 km journey with courage and fortitude, he managed to reach Anandpur Sahib in Punjab along with the holy head of his spiritual preceptor and placed it before Guru Gobind Singh This Devoted Sikh was none else but Bhai Jaita a Rengreta Sikh. The tenth Guru embraced him and remarked ‘Rengreta Guru Ka beta’. So the head of the Guru was cremated at Anandpur Sahib with proper ceremony.
Another act of valour and dedication, was performed by Bhai Lakhi Shah Banjara and his son, Bhai Naghaiya. They reached Chandni Chowk after the execution of the Guru with a convoy of ox-driven carts carrying bales of cotton and foodstuffs. They lifted the headless body of the Guru with flash speed and alacrity and placed it in the cart under the cotton bales. They pushed away briskly towards Raisina Village, the place of their habitat. No alarm was raised by the guards as the dust storm was raging and nothing was visible. They were hiding in a safer place to save themselves from the fury of natural elements and defiant men. To avoid any suspicion by the authorities Bhai Lakhi Banjara placed the body on a bed and set fire to the whole house This place came to be known as Rakab Ganj, because most of the residents of Raisina Village used to manufacture straps for the cavalry of Mughal Army. How they managed to bring the headless body of the Guru safely to their house was a miracle. Bhai Lakhi Banjara and his sons were successful in their mission of bringing the headless body of the Guru to their Village, notwithstanding the search which was instituted immediately after by the imperial police when they found the body of the Guru missing. But the Devotees of the Guru had already cremated the holy body by burning their own house. After the cremation of the body the ashes were put in a gagar(urn) and buried on the spot. For general public it was a miracle as Guru’s.dead body could not be found, out by the police despite serious efforts. Bhai Lakhi Shah Banjara and his sons by putting themselves in such evident danger performed an exemplary act of religious Devotion and thereby earned gratitude of the Sikhs for all times to come.
According to historical records Sardar Bhagel Singh, constructed a Gurdwara in Village Raisina in 1783 to perpetuate the memory of the ninth Guru Sri Tegh Bahadur. He had conquered Delhi by leading an army of 30,000 Sikh warriors alongwith four other commanders. Earlier, Muslims of Delhi had built a mosque on the spot where the Guru’s headless body was cremated. The Sikhs claimed this spot as their own sacred place. Muslims contested this claim, and strongly objected to the dismantling of the Mosque. Rival parties stood with swords drawn and anything could have happened. But the Sikhs offered the Muslims to reconstruct the mosque on their expense in case the urn containing the ashes of the respected Guru was not found buried beneath. Thus tempers cooled down and excavation work commenced in the presence of the Mughal officials.
The assertion of the Sikhs proved to be correct and they were allowed to construct Gurdwara Rakab Ganj by Emperor Shah Alam II. He also granted two Sanads to Sikhs. One sanad granted permission to S. Bhagel Singh to take possession of the land for construction of a Gurdwara and a garden. By second Sanad the Emperor also gifted 101 bighas and ‘5 biswas pukhta equal to about 63 acres with 3 wells land, revenue free. Sikh forces agreed to withdraw from Delhi territory peacefully after the construction of their religious Shrines in the Mughal capital in lieu of these concessions.
Thus Sikhs were able to build a magnificent Gurdwara to keep up the memory of the great Guru who made supreme sacrifice for the freedom of worship, belief and expression. He lived and died for the morally and spiritually civilized future of mankind.
Gurdwara Rakab Ganj stands today on the Pant Road in New Delhi, facing Parliament House and North Block of Central Secretariat. It has the most modern building of white marble surrounded by a beautiful garden.
Like most other Sikh Shrines this Gurdwara has entrances from four sides symbolising that they are open to all without any distinction of caste and creed. This historical Gurdwara was built at a cost of 25 lakh rupees and took 12 years to complete.
History is full of tales of martyrs who were first arrested and then executed by the powers, they dared to oppose or resist for a righteous cause, Guru Tegh Bahadur was unique martyr in the sense that the he himself went to Delhi, sacrificed his life in defence of the oppressed, who were helpless before the might of the Mughal empire.
The Secretary, Management Committee,
Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib,
Pandit Pant Marg,
Near Parliament House,
Pin code 110001
Phone Nos. : 91-11-23738609, 23352286, 23737328, 23737329
Images courtesy :www.Gurudwaras.com