What is the historical significance of Nankana Sahib in Pakistan?
History & Culture
14th Jan, 2020
Tension mounted in Nankana Sahib in Pakistan and there was outrage in India after a mob, led by the family of a Muslim man who had married a Sikh teenage girl, hurled stones at Gurdwara Janam Asthan, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev, and threatened to convert it into a mosque.
About/historical significance of Nankana Sahib
- Nankana Sahib is a city of 80,000 in Pakistan’s Punjab province, where Gurdwara Janam Asthan (also called Nankana Sahib Gurdwara) is located.
- The shrine is built over the site where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was believed to be born in 1469.
- It is 75 kms to the west of Lahore, and is the capital of Nankana Sahib district.
- The city was previously known as Talwandi, and was founded by Rai Bhoi, a wealthy landlord.
- Rai Bhoi’s grandson, Rai Bular Bhatti, renamed the town ‘Nankana Sahib’ in honour of the Guru. ‘Sahib’ is an Arabic-origin epithet of respect.
- Besides Gurdwara Janam Asthan, Nankana Sahib has several important shrines, including Gurdwara Patti Sahib, Gurdwara Bal Leela, Gurdwara Mal Ji Sahib, Gurdwara Kiara Sahib, Gurdwara Tambu Sahib — all dedicated to stages in the life of the first Guru.
- There is also a Gurdwara in memory of Guru Arjan (5th Guru) and Guru Hargobind (6th Guru).
- Guru Hargobind is believed to have paid homage to the town in 1621-22.
- The Janam Asthan shrine was constructed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, after he visited Nankana Sahib in 1818-19 while returning from the Battle of Multan.
- During British rule, the Gurdwara Janam Asthan was the site of a violent episode when in 1921, over 130 Akali Sikhs were killed after they were attacked by the Mahant of the shrine.
- The incident is regarded as one of the key milestones in the Gurdwara Reform Movement, which led to the passing of the Sikh Gurdwara Act in 1925 that ended the Mahant control of Gurdwaras.
- Until Independence, Nankana Sahib’s population had an almost equal number of Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus, which since Partition has been predominantly Muslim.
Other important places
- Gurdwara Nankana Sahib (Janam Asthan): Gurdwara Nankana (Janam Asthan) is built at the site of Guru Nanak Dev's birthplace and childhood home. It is the most prominent of all the gurdwaras located in the town of Nankana, Pakistan. It is the host of annual gurpurab festivities commemorating Guru Nanak's birth which are celebrated on the full moon in the latter part of the year.
- Gurdwara Bal Lilah: Gurdwara Bal Lilah is one of several gurdwaras which dot the town Nankana. It is located in an area where Guru Nanak used to play as a boy with his friends.
- Gurdwara Kiara Sahib: Gurdwara Kiara Sahib is one of several small gurdwaras in Nankana. It stands on the site of the former pasture where a miraculous incident occurred when Guru Nanak's cattle destroyed a farmer's crops while he meditated.
- Gurdwara Mall Ji Sahib: Gurdwara Mall Ji Sahib is one of the smallest gurdwaras in Nankana. It is built site of the former pasture where both the incident of the Jal tree, and Guru Nanak's encounter with a cobra took place. The interior of the gurdwara is decorated with ancient ceramic tiles, about four inches square, each depicting a cobra.