Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib is Opened for Darshans

The doors of Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib have been opened on June 1, 2009.

Sangat can visit the gurudwara everyday till Oct 5, 2009.

For any details of Hemkund Sahib Yatra from Delhi & Amritsar, visit us at www.sikhtourism.com/hemkund.htm

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Delhi Hemkund Sahib Yatra 2009

Hemkund Sahib Yatra is again starting in June 2009 and Sikhtourism has made special Delhi Hemkund Sahib Tour Packages for Pilgrimages.

Sri Hemkund Sahib Tours are available only in the summer, between June and October.

Details of the Tour are :
DELHI - HEMKUND SAHIB - DELHI (6 Nights - 7 Days)
Day 1. Delhi - Rishikesh (Drive 240 km)
Day 2. Rishikesh - Joshimath (Drive 257 km)
Day 3. Joshimath - Govind Ghat - Govind Dham(ghangharia) (Drive 21km, Trek 13km )
Day 4. Govind Dham - Hemkund Sahib - Govind Dham (Ghangharia Trek (12 km)
Day 5. Govind Dham - Govind Ghat - Joshimath (Trek 13 km, Drive 21 km)
Day 6. Joshimath - Rishikesh (Drive 257 km)
Day 7. Rishikesh - Delhi (Drive 240 km)

For more details and Prices, visit at Hemkund Sahib Yara

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vote for Golden Temple in Seven Wonders of India

NDTV has started a survey to select 7 Wonders of India and Golden Temple Amritsar is a part of the same survey.

Please vote for Golden Temple to let it be on the top of list as the best place in India.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chandigarh Rock Garden will sell sculptures

The Chandigarh administration has approved the beautification and development plan for the Rock Garden. Proposed by its founder creator Nek Chand, the structural re designing is meant to improve the aesthetic view of the entire garden. Low height sculptures will also be sold at the Rock Garden for tourists.

UT Home-cum-Tourism Secretary, Mr. Ram Niwas today chaired a meeting regarding the beautification and development of Rock Garden in which various proposals put forward by Sh. Nek Chand for adding more artistic value to the garden were discussed .The Structural Re -designing would be undertaken in order to improve the aesthetic view of the entire garden .Similarly some low height sculptures will be planned apart from establishment within the premises of Rock Garden which would facilitate the tourists to take back memories of Chandigarh.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sikhs make Guinness size statement with Blood

More than three hundred years after the tenth Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh ji, founded the Khalsa amid the hilly terrains of Sri Anandpur Sahib, this holy town once again gift wrapped another great gift to the humanity from the Sikh community -- the world's largest ever blood donation camp.

As long serpentine queues of hundreds of donors on Hola Mohalla, March 11 2009, continued till late Tuesday night, each over enthusiastic to stress Sikhism's message of universal brotherhood and welfare of all (Sarbat Da Bhala), blood unit count crossed the figure of 20,000 and could well have touched 25,000, shattering the earlier Guinness Book record of 13,000 plus units collected in a single day.

Backed by Sri Akal Takht Sahib and other Sikh temporal seats, and enjoying patronage of more than a hundred Sikh organisations, the blood donation drive broke all barriers of age, gender, caste and economic status as young and old, poor and rich, men and women awaited patiently their turn to make a statement with blood at a time when much of it is being shed across the world in the name of religion.

At a time when rest of India was busy playing Holi with colors or cow dung, the Sikh community was making a statement with this drive. 25,000 units of blood in flat 24 hours was the target, and the organizers, led from the front by Akal Purakh Ki Fauj outfit, had made sure that all mandatory requirements of the administrators of Guinness Records are fulfilled and cameras keep a record of all donors, quality checks are stringent, medical care at its best and safe blood keeping practices are followed.

The sheer scale of logistics was mind boggling as the camp spilled over on to two lakh square feet of makeshift tents, 700 beds divided in 14 blocks of 50 beds each, and averaging 2,500 donations in one hour. All this effort was possible, thanks to an army of 8,000 volunteers, 3000 paramedical staff and 100 doctors deployed for the camp. Army personnel from Jalandhar and Chandi Mandir were among the teams collecting units.

The Holla Mohalla festival attracts lakhs of pilgrims from all over Punjab and the rest of the country and is the festival of truth, courage, bravery and service. The milling crowds of Sikhs who came to know of the camp added largely to the success of the effort, monitored for Guinness record purposes.

Sikh enthusiasts had come from, thanks to the massive mobilization campaign to ply blood donors, as far as Maharashtra, UP, Uttarkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

London gurdwara gutted in racist attack

One of London's most important gurdwara, housing priceless religious books, has been gutted in a suspected racist attack in Britain, a news report said on Tuesday. Eye-witnesses on Tuesday said that a man, who entered the Gurdwara Sikh Sangat in East London, managed to escape just before flames were first seen. A group of women, who had spotted the intruder, tried to put out the raging flames in one of the holiest parts of the gurdwara, which was built at Bow in 1979.

Most of the gurdwara's roof collapsed and worshipers fear all but one of its eight holy books have been destroyed, the ‘Evening Standard’ newspaper said on Tuesday. Eye-witnesses described the suspected arsonist as being black or mixed-race. A worshiper said he had noticed racist graffiti on one of the gurdwara's outer walls in the past few weeks.

A criminal investigation has been launched and police and fire investigators are treating the blaze as suspicious. The building, which dates back to 1854 was formerly a synagogue and before that a chapel. The London Fire Brigade confirmed that 75 per cent of the building and the roof had been damaged by the fire.

"Police are treating this incident as suspicious," a Metropolitan police spokesman was quoted as saying by the British daily.

More than 50 firefighters battled the flame for almost eight hours after being called just after 2 p.m. yesterday, the report said.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Protecting Golden Temple from pollution

Punjab government is contemplating a ban on use of fuel other than LPG by goldsmiths, hotels and restaurants in the walled Amritsar city to reduce pollution affecting the Golden Temple.

The data collected by Central Pollution Control Board reveals that every goldsmith and restaurant/hotel owner uses 15 kg to 25 kg coal or up to 50 litres of diesel/kerosene a day, depending upon the workload and availability of electricity. CPCB had found high levels of harmful nitrous oxide and sulphur dioxide in the ambient air. Experts had also cautioned that fireworks release these gases which could react with marble leading to corrosion and blackening. Miniature paintings and gold plating were also under threat from harmful gases, experts added.

Board has recommended to the Punjab government to ban burning of fuel other than LPG in the walled city to save the Golden Temple.

A team had visited the Golden Temple complex last year to free its surroundings free from pollutants on the pattern of the Taj Mahal. It had also favoured restriction on vehicles in 500-m- radius of Harmandar Sahib and suggested to use low-intensity crackers and fireworks during Gurpurbs or Bandi Chhor Diwas (Diwali).

However, the Amritsar Municipal Corporation’s decision to make surrounding the shrine a vehicle-free zone by introducing battery-operated buses to ferry pilgrims is still in the pipeline.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hola Mahalla at Anandpur Sahib

Hola Mohalla or Hola Mahalla or simply Hola is a Sikh festival that takes place on the first of the lunar month of Chet which usually falls in March. This, by a tradition estabished by Guru Gobind Singh, follows the Hindu festival of Holi by one day; Hola is the masculine form of the feminine sounding Holi. The word "Mohalla" is a Punjabi word that implies an organized procession in the form of an army column. But unlike Holi, when people playfully sprinkle color, dry or mixed in water, on each other, the Guru made Hola Mohalla an occasion for the Sikhs to demonstrate their martial skills in simulated battles.

Together the words "Hola Mohalla" stands for "mock fight". During this festival, processions are organised in the form of army type columns accompanied by war-drums and standard-bearers and proceeding to a given spot or moving in state from one gurdwara to another. The custom originated in the time of Guru Gobind Singh who held the first such mock fight event at Anandpur in February 1701.

The foothills of the Shivaliks in Ropar district of Punjab's north-eastern region, especially around the historic townships of Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib, have, since 1701 been playing host to Hola Mohalla. Recently, the Indian government accorded it the status of a national festival. The military exercise, which was personally supervised by the guru, was carried out on the bed of the River Charan Ganga with the famous Hindu temple of Mata Naina Devi in the Shivaliks as the backdrop.

This annual festival held at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab and now replicated at other Gurdwaras worldwide was started by the tenth Sikh Guru, as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles on the day following the festival of Holi at Anandpur Sahib. It reminds the people of valour and defence preparedness, concepts dear to the Tenth Guru who was at that time battling the Mughal empire and the hill kings. On this three-day grand festival, mock battles, exhibitions, display of weapons, etc., are held followed by kirtan, music and poetry competitions. The participants perform daring feats, such as Gatka (mock encounters with real weapons), tent pegging, bareback horse-riding, standing erect on two speeding horses and various other feats of bravery.

There are also a number of Darbars where the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is present and kirtan and religious lectures take place. On the last day a long procession, led by Panj Pyaras, starts from Takhat Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five Sikh religious seats, and passes through various important Gurdwaras like Qila Anandgarh, Lohgarh Sahib, Mata Jitoji and terminates at the Takhat (Keshgarh).

For people visiting Anandpur Sahib, langars (voluntary community kitchens) are organized by the local people as a part of sewa (community service). Raw materials like wheat flour, rice, vegetables, milk and sugar are provided by the villagers living nearby. Women volunteer to cook and others take part in cleaning utensils and other manual tasks that need to be carried out. Traditional cuisine is served to the pilgrims who eat while sitting in rows on the ground. (Pangat)

The popularity of this festival may be judged from the fact that out of five Sikh public holidays requested by the Khalsa Diwan, Lahore in 1889, the Government approved only two - Holla Mahalla and the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. Hola Mahalla is presently the biggest festival at Anandpur.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Golden Temple Amritsar's Darshani Deori to be renovated by Experts

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has agreed to get the renovation of Darshani Deori, which leads to sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple, done by experts with the support of the district administration.

Earlier, the SGPC had stopped the renovation of the deori being done through kar seva when The Tribune highlighted the use of gaudy colours, crude workmanship and sub-standard material in March last year. Talking to The Tribune, Deputy Commissioner KS Pannu said more than Rs 56 lakh would be spent on the conservation of the deori as per the tradition.

The experts have recommended that the cement plaster on the deori be removed with wooden hammer. The restoration work would include waterproofing of the terrace. Wooden boarding, wooden panels in niches above the entrance to a private TV channel office would be removed.Conservation of wall paintings on the cornice and bracket area of the deori by cleaning of painted surface has been recommended.

A team comprising Maninder Gill, Ajaydeep Jamwal and Tushar Chakarvarty has been entrusted with the restoration of Baba Atal and other heritage buildings. Meanwhile, in another major decision, the priceless frescoes that adorn the inner walls of the gurdwara would be recreated in its original designs and pattern. The entire cost of the project is estimated at Rs 1.20 crore and would be met through donations and contributions from other sources.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Hazi Rattan Dargah and Gurudwara, a symbol of communal harmony in Bathinda Fort

Punjab is also known as the land of Sufi saints and Gurus who always spread the message of communal harmony. A visit to the mausoleum devoted to Muslim Saint Haji Rattan in Bathinda Fort confirms the message.People of different castes, creed and religion visit Saint Haji Rattan's Dargah from far off places. Also located adjacent to the mausoleum is a gurudwara devoted to the same saint.

It is said while on his way to Talwandi Sabo, the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh camped here for the night outside the mausoleum of the saint Haji Rattan. The tomb's keepers tried to dissuade the Guru from sleeping here saying that the place was haunted.Since Sikhs don't build tombs and the Guru like other Sikhs didn't believe in ghosts. So Guru Gobind Singh spent the night at the place to show the people that such superstitions had no ground.

Later, marking this visit, a gurudwara was built near the mausoleum of the saint and today Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus pay obeisance at both the spots.

The gurudwara and mausoleum have helped unite the local residents who share their problems and celebrate religious occasions.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Devotees offer toy plane at Gurudwara Talhan to go abroad

A large number of devotees, seeking greener pastures abroad, head towards a Gurudwara devoted to Sant Baba Nihal Singh Shaheedan in Village Talhan of Punjab's Doaba region. Thousands of individuals in Doaba region hold this holy shrine in high-esteem. And, these devotees include many of those who have long been nurturing a dream to get a visa to go abroad but couldn't get it. The popular feeling about this Gurudwara is that anyone offering a toy plane here can have his or her wish to go abroad fulfilled. Hence a lot of people visit this holy shrine and make a wish to go abroad. For this, the devotees make an offering of toy planes; inscribed with names of different carriers. Devotees buy these toy planes from the shops outside this Gurudwara and they offer it to Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

It all started a few months back, when the word spread that wishes of settling abroad would be fulfilled if one offered a toy plane at the shrine. On Sundays, about 40-50 planes are offered. In most cases, devotees who wish to fly to a particular country offer a toy plane of the airline of that country.

In Doaba region, where going abroad is dream of most people, a large number of people have an unshakable faith in the Gurudwara.

It has become a difficult task for the Gurudwara authorities to store so many toy planes. Punjabi youth, who dream of greener pastures abroad, come in large numbers after they hear stories of wishes of their friends to settle abroad being fulfilled after they offered planes at the Talhan Gurudwara.

"Whenever somebody's wish of going abroad is fulfilled, they come here at the Gurudwara to offer a plane. Punjabis from all parts of the world - England, America, Canada and many other countries come here," said one young devotee.

For the Punjabi youth, spending three to 10 dollars in buying a toy airplane hardly matters, if it increases the possibility of ultimately realizing a million-dollar dream.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gurudwara Kotha Sahib near Amritsar

In Sikhism, the places visited by Sikh gurus during their lifetimes, have been developed into pilgrimage spots. One such place happens to be Village Vallah located near Amritsar. This place was visited by the ninth Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadur.

And, about four miles from the holy city in village Vallah stands a magnificent edifice - Gurudwara Guru ka Kotha meaning Guru’s house.It is said Guru Tegh Bahadur, while leaving Amritsar, visited this village.

Legend has it that when Guru Tegh Bahadur visited the Golden Temple after becoming Guru, priests denied him entry. The Guru thereafter went to Vallah and was entertained by Mai Haro. Her house is where the gurudwara ‘Guru ka Kotha’ now stands. "When people of Amritsar came to know that Guru Teg Bahadurji was not allowed to enter the Golden Temple and he came to this place, they came here to take the Guru back. Guruji refused to go, but blessed the people saying that if people of Amritsar visited this Gurudwara during the fair on full moon day, they would remain happy.

Today, the holy place is visited not only by people from Punjab, but from all across the country," said Baldev Singh, the head priest of Gurudwara Kotha Sahib.

Every year, a large number of devotees throng the holy spot to celebrate the annual fair, held on the full moon day. The month-long fair that starts on February 6 is a unique example of ardent faith and devotion.

Born in Amritsar, Guru Tegh Bahadur was the youngest of the five sons of Guru Har Gobind. His father gave the name Tegh Bahadur meaning mighty of the sword to him for showing valour during a battle with the Mughals. During his young years Tegh Bahadur fought along his fathers’ side but after Guru Hargobind’s fierce and bloody battle in 1634 at Kartarpur, he turned to the path of renunciation and meditation.

Guru Tegh Bahadur’s 17-day stay at village Valla proved to be a blessing for the villagers.

"We come here every year to make wishes and all our wishes are fulfilled. People from all parts of the world come here to visit this gurudwara," said Baljinder Singh, one devotee. People visit this holy place irrespective of their caste or creed and set an example of brotherhood and unity. At the gurudwara, they enjoy the Langar or, community meal upholding the principle of equality.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sikhtourism introduces Punjab Village Tour under Punjab Rural Tourism

For a traveler, Punjab is a wonderful tourist destination and especially if your visit a countryside place or Pind (village) is what you wish to explore on your luxury Punjab travel, spend some in a traditional Punjab village.

Sikh Tourism has introduced Punjab Village Tour under Rural Tourism where it arranges accomodation, food and tour of a Punjab village.

What to See and feel in Punjab Village :

Early morning visit the houses to see and feel how the day in the village starts. Men give bath to their Cows and milk them. The ladies of the House will light their hearths with cow dung and leaves to cook food. The Punjab villager farmers plough their fields with bullocks.

Potters collect clay from nearby pond (Chhappar) and make clay pottery, Surahi and Ghara (vessels for storing water), dishes, jars, etc.

Sit and see the creative ability of the women in Phulkari embroidery of different design and blending of harmonious colours.

Watch village metal-workers or Lohars casting, soldering and making metal things like Hammer, Sickle, garden tools, pots and common utensils used in the village kitchen.

Visit Carpenters or Tarkhans to see them carving traditional and regional style Doors, Windows, Beds, chairs, tables, etc out of different Woods

You can walk along the swaying mustard fields, take a ride on a tractor, take the cattle for grazing, feed the cattle or simply sit, relax and gulp down the fresh buttermilk in the green fields.

For more details visit Sikhtourism webpage at