Holy heritage epitome: Golden dome serenity of Gurdwara Dera Sahib attracts millions

LAHORE: Moving towards the Lahore Royal Fort (Badshahi Qila) and Hazoori Bagh, the serenity of the golden dome of  Gurdwara Dera Sahib Sri Guru Arjan Dev, attracts millions of tourists and travelers, each year.

Being a treasure of heritage, Lahore is the top tourist destination in South Asia, famous for its architectural heritage, gardens, traditional foods, and educational institutions, Deputy Secretary of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), Imran Gondal, said while talking to APP.

Tourists coming to Lahore each year had a special fascination for the Lahore Royal Fort and Gurdwara Dera Sahib, which always seems to have a magical effect on them, he said.

The golden dome of Gurdwara Dera Sahib shrine provides visitors with tranquility and grandeur like no other, Gondal added.

The Sikh Gurdwara, a masterpiece of holy heritage is attached with the same ensemble, where the Samadhi of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh stands a significant part of Sikh history is cited to places that exist in Pakistan including the place Nankana Sahib, where the founder of the Sikh religion Baba Guru Nanak Dev was born. According to an ETPB document, there are around 195 Gurdwaras across the country (Pakistan).

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According to Sikh history, Guru Arjun was the first of the two gurus who were martyred in the Sikh faith, whereas he was the fifth of the 10 total Sikh gurus.

Being the martyred one, Sri Guru Arjan Dev is considered among the revered gurus for the Sikhs and Gurdwara Dera Sahib is the holiest for the Sikhs.

According to Sikh religion historical references, Guru Arjan Dev was the son of Guru Ram Das and his mother’s name was Bibi Bhani, the daughter of Guru Amar Das. He was the ever first Guru in Sikhism, who was born in a religious Sikh family. Guru Arjan Dev was born in Govindval which locates on the Indian side of Punjab.

Generally, it is said that Guru Amar Das (the maternal father of Guru Arjan Dev) nominated Guru Ram Das as his successor-Guru but after the demise of Guru Ram Das, as per (his) nomination, Guru Arjan was chosen as successor Guru among all his brothers.

After the death of his father, he was appointed at this slot in 1581 CE (Nanakshahi Calendar).

According to various Sikh research chronicles, his birth year is mentioned as April 15, 1563, which is accepted by both scholarly-consent and researchers as the actual year.

Sikh research chroniclers and different references quote that that Guru Arjun compiled the ever first official edition of the Sikh scripture namely the ‘Adi Granth,’ which is the basis of Sikh holy book ‘Guru Granth Sahib,’ available at different Sikh holy places and gurdwaras, as this book is considered the first holy book of the Sikh religion.

The first official edition of  Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth was compiled by the Guru Arjan, noted Sikh professor and scholar Dr. Kalyan Singh Kalyan told APP, adding another remarkable credit which goes to Guru Arjan is the completion of the construction of Darbar Sahib at Amritsar.

Khushwant Singh in his famous book, A History of the Sikhs, Volume-1, narrates that the execution of Guru Arjun was absolutely political as there had been a Mughal dynasty dispute between the emperor Jahangir and his son Khusro. The Guru Arjan had supported and blessed Khusro upon which the Jahangir had become angry and infuriated and thus he ordered the execution of Guru Arjan.

But contrary to this reference, the Sikh tradition has a different view regarding the death of Guru Arjan.

Sikh religious history states that the Guru’s execution was a part of the ongoing conflict between Sikhs and dominant Mughal authorities, and they were feeling troubled over the expansion of the Sikh ruling area.

But some scholarly articles have clearly observed that the evidence is unclear whether his death was due to execution.

On the other hand, similarly, authentic Sikh spiritual accounts state that the Guru after enduring the most unheard and unseen tortures, merged into the eternal light (without repining), on May 30th1606 CE.

It is worth mentioning here that Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore commemorates the spot where Guru Arjun Dev died in 1606.

This most revered and famous Gurdwara with a prestigious golden dome is located in the Walled City of Lahore and is a part of an ensemble of monuments, including the Lahore Fort, Huzoori Bagh, Samadhi of Ranjit Singh, Roshnai Gate, and the Royal Mosque (Badshahi Masjid).

While entering the Royal Fort, visitors can see the beauty of the Dera Sahib, dome, and the Gurdwara.

Noted architect Muhammad Tayyab told APP that it is magical and the catchiest; this gurdwara-monument is the best example of Sikh religious architecture.

Its dome is a masterpiece, which reflects the magnificent values of dedication, wonderful intricacy, and its line work, he said.

However, it is clearly evident that Sikh Architecture is heavily influenced and project the identical styles of Mughal and Rajput architecture.

The Gurdwara Dera Sahib dome, its artwork including multi-foil arches, frescoes, and in-lay work, are Mughal influenced, which is a clear replica of the Shah Jahani period building construction, most of them in Lahore Royal Fort, he added.

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Until now, hundreds of Sikh yatrees come every year to this place and the recitation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib at this gurdwara is continued to date.

Every year on the occasion of the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev, Sikh devotees visit the shrine to pay homage to the great guru.

It is pertinent to mention here that Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken several initiatives on a priority for the facilitation of Sikh pilgrims including the historic opening of the visa-free Kartarpur Sahib Corridor in November 2019. The opening was carried out on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Baba Guru Nanak.

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