Damdama Sahib The Headquarters of the Nihangs

This is a huge complex, and you can easily spend half a day exploring the various gurudwaras that are divided between different sects
Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib. Credit goldentempleamritsar.org
Takhat Sri Damdama Sahib. Credit goldentempleamritsar.org

Also known as Talwandi Sabo, the Damdama Sahib is one of the most muscular gurudwara complexes in Punjab. It is best accessed from Bathinda via SH 17. Its importance stems from its association with Guru Gobind Singh who arrived here after fleeing the advancing army of Sirhind general Wazir Khan. 

The History Of Damdama Sahib

Ordered by Aurangzeb to kill Guru Gobind Singh, Khan attacked Anandpur. The guru with a band of faithful fled to Muktasar where he defeated Khan and from there to Talwandi Sabo. Here, he regrouped his forces of Khalsa (guru&rsquos army) and set up a Khalsa Takht, army headquarters. The Nihangs, who trace their descent from this army, consider it as their domain. However, unlike in Anandpur Sahib, Talwandi Sabo does not observe Hola Mohalla. The Budha Dal, the dominant sect of Nihang is its main occupant. 

In 1984, Baba Santa Singh, the leader of Budha Dal was excommunicated along with the then Union Home Minister, Buta Singh, for conducting kar sewa to reconstruct the Akal Takht at Amritsar on instructions of the then PM Indira Gandhi. The Takht had been substantially damaged during Operation Bluestar when the army stormed the Golden Temple complex to flush out Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who gave the call for Khalistan. Baba Santa Singh was re-admitted to the Sikh Sangh in 2001 after completing tankah (a period of ex-communication of 17 years). 

There are five Akal Takhts or temporal seats of the Sikhs, three of them are in Punjab Golden Temple (Amritsar), Damdama Sahib (Talwandi Sabo) and Keshgarh Gurudwara (Anandpur Sahib). The other two are in Patna (Bihar) and Nanded (Maharashtra). The Talwandi Sabo was recognised by the Indian government in 1999 during the 300-year celebration of the formation of the Khalsa. This is a huge complex, and you can easily spend half a day exploring the various gurudwaras that are divided between different sects. The main shrine is the Darbar Sahib. Here, there are two massive military towers that attest to the martial might of the Sikhs. Its holy tank is situated underground and can be accessed through entrances provided in the complex. The other two important gurudwaras are the Guru Sarovar Sahib and Guru Nanak Sar Sahib. The former has a huge tank that is surrounded by an equally large mango grove on three sides. It&rsquos serene and not many people come here, it is a good spot to relax and meditate. The latter is associated with Mani Singh who is said to have written several copies of Adi Granth to be distributed among sangath. As a result, the tank or Sarovar in this complex is also referred to as Lekhan Sar or writer&rsquos tank. 

Behind the Damdama Sahib is a small memorial to Pai Ballah, headman of Talwandi Sabo village who is said to have donated land to the guru&rsquos Khalsa. There are many congregational halls spread across the complex, some double up as the training ground (akharas) for Nihangs who practice their skills of wielding various medieval weapons. 

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Traveller