The Birth of Chakk Nanaki and Anandpur Sahib

The zone, which is now known as Anandpur Sahib, includes the villages of Chakk Nanaki, Anandpur Sahib, Sahota, Mianpur, Laudipur, Thabbal and Mataur etc.

It is generally believed that Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib founded Anandpur Sahib town on June 19, 1665. In fact, it was Chakk Nanaki (now only Chakk in official papers) that had been founded in 1665. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib laid the foundation stone of the city of Anandpur Sahib on March 30, 1689. The area of Chakk Nanaki extended from the bank of the river Charan Ganga to the square between Kesgarh Sahib and the bus stand. Chakk Nanaki was carved out of the villages of Laudipur, Mianpur and Sahota. (These three villages still exist). The foundation stone of Chakk Nanaki was laid in the vicinity of Sahota village. Anandpur Sahib was founded in 1689 on the ruins of the village of Makhowal.

Generally, new towns are founded, established and developed by monarchs. It is a unique phenomenon in the history of the Sikh nation that Guru Sahib founded a number of towns and turned several villages into major and important towns. Hence, social, spiritual, economical and political roles became one in Guru Sahib.

The first town associated with the Sikh history is that of Nanakana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak Sahib. But the first town ever founded by Guru Sahib was Kartarpur Sahib (now a part of Pakistan). It was founded by Guru Nanak Sahib in 1522. Sultanpur Lodhi also had the privilege of having felt the touch of the feet of Guru Nanak Sahib. Guru Sahib spent about three years (1504 to 1507) in this village.

Guru Angad Sahib transformed the small unknown village of Khadur into Khadur Sahib. Guru Amar Das founded the town of Goindwal. He also asked Guru Ram Das Sahib to establish a new Sikh City State in the heart of Maajha (the area of the districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Lahore is known as Maajha zone). Guru Ram Das Sahib laid the foundation of Guru Da Chakk, which later came to be known as Chakk Ram Das and now it is known as Amritsar. Guru Arjan Sahib developed Chakk Ram Das into a major city. He also founded the towns of Gobindpur (now known as Hargobindpur), Tarn Taran, Kartarpur (Jalandhar) and Chheharta. Guru Hargobind Sahib revealed the Throne of the Almighty in the Sikh City State. He also purchased the land of present town of Keeratpur Sahib. (The foundation of Keeratpur Sahib was laid by Baba Sri Chand, son of Guru Nanak Sahib, in 1624). Guru Har Rai Sahib played major role in the development of Keeratpur Sahib. He also developed the village of Chanauli (Charnauli) where he kept 2200 horses. Guru Harkarishan Sahib brought the minor village of Panjokhra on the map of the world and turned the bungalow of Raja Jai Sinh Mirza into Bangla Sahib. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib founded Chakk Nanaki. Guru Gobind Singh Sahib founded the town of Paonta Sahib (1685) and the city of Anandpur Sahib (1689).

Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib founded Chakk Nanaki in 1665. Earlier, he used to live at Bakala (which became Baba Bakala due to his stay there). In 1656, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib left for a missionary tour of the eastern zone of Assam, Bengal, Bihar etc and spent more than seven years in this area. During his stay at Patna, a son (Guru) Gobind Das (Singh) was born to him on December 18, 1661 (some writers have wrongly mentioned the year of his birth as 1666). Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was installed as the Ninth Nanak on August 11, 1664 at Bakala. In the middle of April 1665, he paid a visit to Talwandi Sabo and laid the foundation of the Gurusar Sarovar (tank). From here he went to Dhamtan (in Baangar area) where Bhai Daggo served him in a royal manner. The residents of Baangar area loved Guru Sahib so much that they wanted him (Guru Sahib) to establish his headquarters at Dhamtan. When he gave his consent Bhai Daggo began the construction of the residence for Guru Sahib.

In the third week of April 1665, Guru Sahib visited Keeratpur Sahib. Here, he received information about the death of Raja Deep Chand of Bilaspur State. Raja Deep Chand was a devoted Sikh. His wife, now Dowager Rani, Champa, too, was a very devoted Sikh. On May 10, 1665, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib went to Bilaspur to join the last prayers for the Raja. His mother Mata Nanaki, wife Mata Gujari and several prominent Sikhs accompanied Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib stayed at Bilaspur up to May 13. Dowager Rani Champa wanted Guru Sahib to spend some more days at Bilaspur but Guru Sahib told her that he had to go to Dhamtan. Rani Champa had already known that Guru Sahib was going to establish his headquarters at Dhamtan. The Rani approached Mata Nanaki (mother of Guru Sahib) to ask him not to go far away from Bilaspur State. Rani Champa became so much sentimental that she began to weep. At this, Mata Nanaki promised that she would impress upon Guru Sahib not to move to Dhamtan. The Rani promised to donate land for a new Sikh Centre in her State at the site of Guru Sahib's choice. When Mata Nanaki told Guru Sahib about the feelings of the Rani, at first he hesitated but later agreed to establish his headquarters in the territory of Bilaspur State. Guru Sahib told the Rani that he would establish his Centre in her State subject to the condition that she should accept the price of the land as he won't like to establish a Sikh City on a donated land. The Rani agreed to accept the price of the land. She, however, declared that she would spend that money for the welfare of the poor people of her State.

Guru Sahib took a tour of the area around Keeratpur Sahib. He selected an area on the bank of Satluj River. He carved out the new town from the territory of the villages of Sahota, Mianpur and Laudipur. At that time river Satluj used to flow near the territory of the present Anandpur Sahib. When Rani came to know about Guru Sahib's selection, her joy knew no bounds at the thought that her State will have the patronage of Guru Sahib. Rani Champa and her ministers were happy because it also meant protection from the invasion of the Moghuls.

The site chosen by Guru Sahib was of great strategic importance. On one side there was a river and on the other side were hills and dense forest. It was a peaceful zone for meditation as well as for promotion of arts and intellectual activities. The area of Chakk Nanaki was supposed to be very peaceful zone. Besides, it was to give two crops a year, hence sufficiency of food as well. It was also safe from military point of view. The Sikhs had experienced Moghul invasion of Guru Da Chakk (Amritsar) in 1634 and Kartarpur in 1635. Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib had himself participated in these battles. So, he knew as to what would be a safe and peaceful zone. Though Keeratpur Sahib was also a peaceful zone. It was surrounded by Satluj (on the side of Chakk Nanaki) and Sarsa rivulet (on the side of Ropar) and hills and dense forest on north as well as south side. But as the family of Baba Suraj Mal used to live there, Guru Sahib did not want to disturb them.

Bhai Gurditta (great grandson of Baba Buddha) laid the foundation stone of the new town on June 19, 1665 at the present site of Guru De Mahal. Diwan Dargah Mal (religious minister of Guru Sahib) made the first prayer. The town was named as Chakk Nanaki after the name of Mata Nanaki (the mother of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib) who had played a major role in making Guru Sahib agree to establish his headquarters in the State of Bilaspur. With in a few days, Guru De Mahal was built. Guru Sahib spent three months at Chakk Nanaki. During this period several Sikhs visited the town. Within a short period several Sikhs moved to Chakk Nanaki and established themselves in the new town.

In the last quarter of 1665, Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib left for another long missionary journey. He could not visit Chakk Nanaki for more than six years. During this period, he visited Assam, Bengal and Bihar where he spent the period from January 1666 to March 1670. He returned to Bakala in the middle of 1670. By this time his wife and son had also joined him. He spent about one and a half-year at Bakala. In March 1672, Guru Sahib and his family moved to Chakk Nanaki.

Now Chakk Nanaki became a major centre of the Sikhs. Thousands of Sikhs began visiting Chakk Nanaki. With in the next three years several Sikhs established their houses and business in the Sikh State. Chakk Nanaki changed the map of the Hathaut area. The area, where an average man did not dare to pass through, became a land of hundreds of houses. Within a short time Chakk Nanaki became the major town of the zone.

Birth of Anandpur Sahib

Battle of Bhangani:
When Aurangzeb came to know about this, he decided to eliminate Ram Rai. Under Aurangzeb's instructions, some attendants of Ram Rai killed him. Ram Rai's wife reported it to Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib visited village Khurvadhi, the residence of Ram Rai, to participate in final prayers for him. Here, Gurbakhsh Rai, an associate of Ram Rai, who wanted to become the chief of the centre at Khurvadhi and was the chief conspirator to kill Ram Rai, tried to insult Guru Sahib. At this Bhai Mani Ram, Nand Chand and other Sikhs taught a lesson to Gurbakhsh Rai and his associates. Gurbakhsh Rai fled the village and reached Srinagar Garhwal. He approached Fateh Shah, the ruler of Garhwal and provoked him to attack Guru Sahib. Fateh Shah, who was already jealous of Guru Sahib's glory, agreed to lead an army to Paonta Sahib. He thought that Guru Sahib did not have a large number of followers at Paonta and a sudden attack will result into his victory.

Guru Sahib received information about the attack in advance. He asked all the Sikhs to leave Paonta Sahib and check the enemy at village Bhangani. On September 18, 1688, Fateh Shah's army attacked the Sikhs. A fierce battle was fought between the Garhwal and the Sikh soldiers. The hill soldiers were no matches to amateur Sikh soldiers. Fateh Shah's army suffered heavy casualties. By the evening Fateh Shah's army fled the battlefield. Guru Sahib told the Sikhs not to chase the fleeing army. In this battle four Sikhs embraced martyrdom. Among these four two were the cousins of Guru Sahib (Sago Shah and Jeet Mal) and the two others were Bhai Hatthi Chand Parmar (brother of Bhai Mani Singh) and Bhai Uda Rathore.

Return to Chakk Nanaki:
In October 1688, Guru Sahib received a letter from Dowager Rani Champa, the queen of Bilaspur and Prince Bhim Chand, requesting Guru Sahib to return to Chakk Nanaki. The victory of Guru Sahib at Bhangani had impressed Raja Bhim Chand and he wished to have Guru Sahib's protection and patronage as a defence from the invading forces of Moghul or the other hill States. Even other hill rulers thought of Guru Sahib as their Godfather. Rani Champa had written the letter in such a humble manner that Guru Sahib could not help accepting her request and decided to return to Chakk Nanaki.

Guru Sahib left Paonta Sahib for Chakk Nanaki on October 28, 1688. On his way to Chakk Nanaki, Guru Sahib visited Kapal Mochan, Laharpur, Toka, Dabra, Raipur Rani, Dhakauli, Nadda, Mani Majra, Kotla Nihang, Ropar, Ghanaula, Bunga, Attari and Keeratpur. Guru Sahib reached Chakk Nanaki in the middle of November 1688.

After Guru Sahib's return to Chakk Nanaki, thousands of Sikh began visiting Chakk Nanaki again. When Rani Champa came to know about the return of Guru Sahib, she sent her minister to Chakk Nanaki to request Guru Sahib to visit Bilaspur. Guru Sahib had special regards for Rani Champa, so he accepted her invitation. The next week Guru Sahib left for Bilaspur via Keeratpur Sahib. When Guru Sahib reached Bilaspur, the aged Rani Champa and her son Bhim Chand welcomed Guru Sahib at the entrance of the city of Bilaspur. She gave a grand welcome to Guru Sahib. Several rulers of the adjoining hill States had reached Bilaspur to make obeisance to Guru Sahib. Guru Sahib spent five days at Bilaspur. Before Guru Sahib's departure, Rani Champa requested Guru Sahib not to go far away from her State. She told Guru Sahib that she wouldn't be able to survive if Guru Sahib moved his headquarters to any other place. She requested Guru Sahib to build fine forts for the city of Chakk Nanaki.

Foundation of the City of Anandpur Sahib and the forts
After reaching Chakk Nanaki, Guru Sahib sent Hukamnamas to the Sikhs to visit Chakk Nanaki on March 28, 1689. Thousands of Sikhs responded to Guru Sahib's call. A mammoth congregation was held at Chakk Nanaki. On this day, Dowager Rani Champa too visited Chakk Nanaki. Her son Raja Bhim Chand and some of her ministers and officials also accompanied her. On that day Guru Sahib held his court under a big canopy. Here, Rani Champa requested Guru Sahib to establish a new town as the capital of the Sikh State and also to build some forts for the defence of the State. She offered to grant as much land as Guru Sahib needed for this purpose. Guru Sahib agreed on the condition that she would accept the price for the land. At first she hesitated but finally she consented accepting the price and also announced that she shall spend that amount for the welfare of the poor people of her State. Guru Sahib paid the price for the land of the village of Makhowal (which was just ruins) as well as the land of the villages of Agampur, Tarapur, Laudipur, Mataur and Sahota. Guru Sahib announced the construction of five forts as well. Guru Sahib also decided that the new city Anandpur shall be built at the site of ruins of the village of Makhowal and the five forts will be built in the territory of Anandpur, Sahota, Laudipur, Tarapur and Agampur etc.

On March 29, 1689, Guru Sahib laid the foundation of the new town of Anandpur Sahib. Bhai Chaupat Rai (Bhai Chaupa Singh after initiation) recited five stanzas of Anand Sahib (a hymn composed by Guru Amar Das Sahib) and made a prayer as a part of the ceremony of laying down of the foundation stone of the Sikh capital. The foundation stone of the fort of Anandgarh was laid down the next day. Four more forts (Taragarh, Lohgarh, Holgarh/Agamgarh and Fatehgarh) were to be built after some time. Among these forts Anandgarh was the main cantonment of the Sikh soldiers and Lohgarh had a factory for manufacture of arms and ammunition. The main gate of Lohgarh was a very strong one and it was not possible for the enemy to break it open. All these forts, except the fort of Taragarh, were at a distance of about 800 yards from each other. These forts gave protection to the villages of Chakk Nanaki and Anandpur Sahib as well as the other villages, which had, by then, become a part of Greater Anandpur Sahib, the Sikh City State. Besides, these five forts the Sikh City State had also the protection of Charan Ganga and other rivulets as well as river Satluj (which used to flow on the border of Anandpur Sahib at that time) on two sides and a range of the hills on the third side.

For complete study of Anandpur Sahib, read
Anandpur Sahib(Punjabi)
Anandpur Sahib Ka Itihas (Hindi)

Anandpur Sahib (Light & Sound)
All the three books written by Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer
Published by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Cimmittee, Amritsar, specially for the tercentenary of Khalsa in 1999.

© Copyright Dilgeer 2002 All Rights Reserved