Bangla Sahib Gurdwara

DESTINATIONS central delhi bangla-sahib-gurdwara


Bangla Sahib Gurdwara

This massive gurdwara (Sikh temple) is always full of activity—no surprise, given Delhi's huge Sikh population, most of whom came here as refugees from Pakistan in 1947. If you can't make it to Amritsar to see the Golden Temple, come here to admire the distinctively ostentatious style of their temples. Sikh gurdwaras reflect both the symmetry of Mughal mosques and the chaos of Hindu temples. Bangla Sahib is built of white marble and topped with a shiny, gold onion dome.

The gurdwara stands on the site where Guru Hari Krishan, the eighth of 10 Sikh gurus who lived between 1469 and 1708, performed a small miracle. Before entering, remove your shoes and socks (check them at the counter on the left), get rid of cigarettes, and cover your head with a piece of cloth. As you walk up the stairs and enter the sanctum, you'll see people filling jugs of water from enclosed cisterns. Guru Hari Krishan used to distribute sanctified water to the sick, believing it had a miraculous healing effect on their mind, body, and soul, and people still treat the contents of these pools as holy water. Inside, devotees sit facing a small pavilion in the center that holds the Granth Sahib (Sikh scriptures). Hymns from the holy book are sung continuously from well before sunrise until approximately 9 pm, and you're welcome to sit and listen; if you fancy something cultural in the evening, come at about 9 to see the ceremony by which the book is stored away for the night. As you walk around inside, be careful to proceed in a clockwise direction, and exit on the right side in back. Out the door to the right a priest distributes prasad, a ritual that Sikhs share with Hindus and that resembles the Christian sacrament of Communion: take a lump of this sugar, flour, and ghee (clarified butter) concoction with both hands, pop it into your mouth with your right hand, then rub the remaining ghee into your hands.


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