The Sis Ganj Sahib Gurdwara, located in the bustling heart of Chandni Chowk, stands as a symbol of Sikh faith, attracting over 15,000 devotees daily. It holds a prominent place in religious sightseeing in the national capital, Delhi. The gurdwara's significance extends beyond its spiritual role, as it welcomes a large influx of tourists and devotees every day. Many come not only to fulfill their religious rituals but also to partake in the communal meal, known as 'langar'. Moreover, the gurdwara plays a crucial role in the management elections of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Committee, reflecting its central position in Sikh community affairs.

Historical account 

On 24 November 1675, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb ordered the beheading of the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur. Despite the cruel decree, a devoted follower named Lakhi Shah Vanjara rescued the Guru's body under the veil of night and performed his last rites by burning his own house. Today, this sacred site is marked by Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, a place of reverence and remembrance for Sikhs worldwide.

At the gurdwara, visitors can witness the preserved trunk of the tree where Guru Tegh Bahadur's head was severed, along with the well where he bathed during his imprisonment. Adjacent to the shrine lies the Kotwali, the very police station where the Guru was detained and his disciples subjected to torment. Nearby stands the Sunehri Masjid (Chandni Chowk), a testament to the historical significance of the area. These sites not only recount a chapter of Sikh history but also serve as enduring symbols of faith and resilience.

On March 11, 1783, Baghel Singh, a Sikh military leader, led his army into Delhi. They took over the Diwan-i-Am, and Shah Alam II, the Mughal emperor, reached a settlement with them. According to the agreement, Baghel Singh could build gurudwaras at Sikh historical spots in the city. He would also receive six annas in a rupee (37.5%) of all the octroi duties in Delhi. Within eight months, from April to November 1783, Baghel Singh constructed Sis Ganj among other shrines. However, the site faced shifts in its use between being a mosque and a gurudwara due to the uncertain political climate in the following century.

This place became a point of contention between two communities, leading to legal battles. After extended litigation, the Privy Council during the British Raj ruled in favour of the Sikh litigants. The current structure, with its gold-gilded domes added in subsequent years, was finalized in 1930. The Mughal-era Kotwali was later entrusted to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee around 1971.

The severed head ("Sis" in Hindi or Punjabi) of Guru Tegh Bahadur was brought to Anandpur Sahib by Bhai Jaita, another disciple of the Guru. Another gurudwara by the same name Gurudwara Sisganj Sahib in Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, marks the site ,where in November 1675, the head of the martyred Guru Teg Bahadur was cremated by Bhai Jaita (later named Bhai Jivan Singh according to Sikh rites), despite opposition from the Mughal authorities.

Sikh community revering the gurdwara 

The Gurdwara, one of the nine historical Gurdwaras in the capital city, now boasts modern facilities for visitors worldwide. Amidst the hustle and bustle of old Delhi, the Gurdwara stands serene, witnessing the area's transformation into a major commercial hub.

Kuldeep Singh Bajaj, vice-chairman of the Gurdwara Sub-Committee, highlighted the influx of foreign tourists who find solace and convenience in the Gurdwara's amenities. He noted that such facilities are rare to find nearby, making the Gurdwara a preferred stay for many travelers. 

As Old Delhi evolves into one of the city's largest commercial centers, the Gurdwara remains a peaceful sanctuary amidst the urban chaos, welcoming visitors from far and wide.

*Based on an article by J Singh, published in Sikh Sangat on 22nd January 2013


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