From the Archives Monuments of Guru Gobind Singhs time no longer there

Many of the Sikhs turning up here will like to see the original Garhi (fortress) but it will be a disappointing moment for them when they will not be able to see such a structure in the town where Guru Gobind Singh spent two t crucial days — December 20 and 21 in 1704 — of his life. There is also no trace of the war field where the battle was actually fought as Gurdwara Katalgarh Sahib has come up there. Some say that instead of Katalgarh Sahib, it should be named as Gurdwara Shaheedan.

No trace of the original history of the Guru’s period has been left by those who were made the custodians of the Sikh heritage. All old buildings surrounding the original Garhi have also been demolished to build a new gurdwara. “Future generations would never forgive those who have played havoc with the Sikh heritage,” says a Sikh historian.

The Garhi belonged to Rai Sahib Chaudhary Roop Chand and his brother Chaudhary Jagat Singh. They were Rajputs, who migrated from Amber near Jaipur in 1134. Their elders were granted rights over 65 villages in the Chamkaur Sahib belt by rulers of that time.

Chaudhary Roop Chand’s descendants — Mohinder Singh, his son Bhup Chand and his grandson Arjan Singh — now live here at a short distance from Gurdwara Garhi Sahib. Mohinder Singh is from the sixth generation of Roop Chand. Mohinder Singh’s brother Krishan Kumar and his son Bhim Singh also live here.

There is no dependable historical date available with regard to the arrival of Guru Gobind Singh, his two elder sons and other armed Singhs in the Garhi. Seventy-year-old Mohinder Singh says that Chaudhary Roop Chand was a regular visitor to the Naina Devi temple, at a short distance from Anandpur Sahib. On way to Naina Devi and back, Chaudhary Roop Chand used to pay respects to Guru Gobind Singh, who was camping in the Anandpur Sahib fort. He says that Chaudhary Roop Chand had good relations with the Guru.

After marching out from the Anandpur Sahib fort, Guru Gobind Singh arrived at Chamkaur Sahib on December 20, 1704, and camped in a bagh (garden) that belonged to the Chaudhary family. At that place now, Gurdwara Dumdama Sahib has been built. From the bagh, the Guru and his men shifted to the Garhi to launch a counter attack on the invading armies of Turks and hill states. In the war, that continued for two days, the two elder Sahibzadas — Ajit Singh (16) and Jujhar Singh (14) — attained martyrdom along with three — Bhai Mohkam Singh, Bhai Himmat Singh and Bhai Sahib Singh — of the famed Panj Piaras.

Chaudhary Mohinder Singh and other members of his family say that their forefathers had helped the Guru and his followers to shift to the Garhi despite the fact that they were under pressure from the rulers of that time. “Historians have not done justice with our elders and a wrong picture has been painted of them,” they say. Chaudharys lost the ownership of 65 villages in 1852 when the land of these villages was allotted to muhjaras (serfs) by an officer, Kala Rai. But this town even now has a significant presence of the Chaudhary families.

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