About 120 km away from Ambala city and secure in the shadow of the Himalayas stands holy Shrine of Paonta Sahib,dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh. The magic of the lower Himalayas works on the mind of the pilgrims who come here to pay respects to the great Guru. It can be reached from two sides, from Ambala via Nahan and straight from Yamunanagar. It is a picturesque site on the bank of the river Yamuna. One can reach Paonta Sahib from Dehradun too. Its outskirts are dotted with gardens, green meadows and tall evergreen trees, that echo the gushing waters of Yamuna;
The time spent at Paonta by Guru Gobind Singh, was happiest period of his life. He enjoyed hunting in the thick forests around. The opportunites were enormous. The Guru wrote, "I enjoyed myself on the banks of Yamuna and saw amusements of different kinds."
The Guru took many steps to beautify Paonta and Devoted most of his time in composing poetry. He was so much enamoured of poetry that he invited fifty two poets to his court. The pleasant environment and salubrious climate refreshed his mind. Most of the time he spent in reading and writing.
Besides,the Guru selected a site noted for its scenic beauty and splendour and got constructed a fort on the bank of Yamuna. Here Pir Buddhu Shah a renowned Muslim saint living in Sadhaura near paonta,called on the Guru. The two had a long discourse and ultimately the muslim holyman recognised the superiority of the Guru. He became a Devotee of the tenth Master.
A magnificent Shrine has been built at Paonta Sahib, on the right bank of the river Yamuna. Thousands of pilgrims go there on the occasion of the Hola Mohalla every year. A big Kavi Darbar is held in which well known poets participate. It is held at the same place where Guruji used to sit along with 52 poets. The other sacred place in the Gurudwara complex is Sri Talab Sahib, where the Guru used to distribute salary to his soldiers.
Paonta or Panvta on the right bank of Yamuna River, is connected with road with Yamuna Nagar (65 kilimetres) and Nahan (42 kilometers), and can also be reached from Dehradun (50 kilometers) by crossing the river at Paonta ferry. It was founded in 1685 by Guru Gobind Singh, who stayed here upto 1688. During this period he engaged himself not only in hunting and training his warrior Sikhs in the martial arts, but also in literary activities composing many works of religious as well as heroic poetry and patronizing several talented poets and writers whom he employed mostly for translating ancient classics into contemporary Braj or Punjabi. Towards the end of his stay, he also fought and won the first battle of his life against a combination of hill chiefs hostile to him, in his words, 'for no cause'. Before he left for Anandpur Sahib, he appointed Bhai Bishan Singh to look after the fortress-like complex and the Gurdwara within it. The building was reconstructed in 1823 by Baba Kapur Singh with funds provided by Sardar Sahib Singh Sandhanwalia. The Shrine and about 120 acres of land attached to it continued to be controlled by hereditary mahants until Nihangs occupied it forcibly in 1964. This was followed by a raid by Himachal Pradesh policed in which 11 Nihangs were killed. After lengthy enquiries and court proceedings, the management was entrusted to an eleven-member committee with the president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee as its ex-officio chairman. Meanwhile the Himachal Pradesh government had permanently allotted most of the land of Gurdwara Sri Paonta Sahib to former tenants under Big Landed Estates Abolition Act passed by it. The Gurdwara complex spreading over three acres includes, besides the main sanctum Darbar Sahib, several smaller Shrines connected with the Guru's activities here. They are Talab Asthan, where pay was disbursed; Kavi Darbar Asthan, where literary works were recited and discussed; Dastar Astha, where robes of honour were given to warriors for their performance during the battle of Bhangari; a memorial to Rishi Kalpi, whom the Guru had brought from his hermitage to stay here; and the Gobind Ghat leading down to the river waters; and of course, the inevitable Guru Ka Langar. All thee places have been reconstructed or renovated during the 1980s.
- The eldest son of Guru Gobind Singh, Sahibzada Baba Ajit Singh Ji was born at Paunta Sahib.
- It was here that the Guru wrote the major portion of the Dasam Granth.
- Today a museum displays pens and weapons used by the Guru during his days at Paunta Sahib.
- There is also a memorial to Kalpi Rishi.
- This was also the site where Pir Buddhu Shah, a renowned Muslim saint living in Sadhaura near paonta, called on the Guru. The two had a long discourse, after which the Muslim holyman became a Devotee of the tenth Master.