A visit to a Gurudwara brings you immense peace and raises a question: “Are you humble enough?” Are you humble enough to pick up strangers’ shoes with bare hands? Are you humble enough to sit on your knees and mop the floor while people are walking all over it? Are you humble enough to serve water & food to strangers, right before sunrise to late after sunset on a weekend? Sikhism encourages Sewa i.e., selfless service. They believe it is good for community relations and moral uplifting of a person, and such is the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi.
As mentioned outside the Gurudwara, it is related to the eighth Sikh guru, Shri Guru Hari Krishan Sahib. It was originally built as a bungalow in 1664 for Raja Jai Singh (an Indian Ruler) in Jaisingh Pura, now famously known as Connaught Place or Rajiv Chowk. Then 8 years old Guru Hari Krishan Sahib resided here when he agreed to visit Delhi on Aurangzeb’s request.
During that time, Delhi was in the midst of smallpox and cholera epidemic. When the people narrated their woes to the Guru, he turned the pond water (in the bungalow) into holy nectar (or Amrit) by dipping his feet into it and thereby cured the patients. It is said that soon he took the illness upon himself and eventually died on March 30, 1664. A small tank was later constructed by Raja Jai Singh over the well; its water is now revered as having healing properties and is taken by Sikhs throughout the world back to their homes.
Timings & Entry Fee
Bangla Sahib Gurudwara is open 24 hours, all year round, including national holidays. Entry is free of cost for everyone.
However, if you are visiting only as a tourist, I would suggest you avoid going to the Gurudwara on weekends as a huge mass of devotees visit on the weekends to offer their prayers and you might have to rush through the darshan.
How to Reach the Gurudwara
Rajiv Chowk is the nearest metro station to the Bangla Sahib Gurudwara. One can reach here easily by metro and then take a rickshaw/cab to the Gurudwara which is approximately 1.2 KM away from the station.
Little guide before your visit
- It is compulsory for both men and women to cover their head before entering a Gurudwara. So, it is advised that men carry a handkerchief/headscarf and women carry a scarf/dupatta for the same. In case you forget to take one along, don’t worry, you can take one of the re-useable scarfs available at the Gurudwara. Make sure the scarf/dupatta never slips off your head when inside the Gurudwara as it is considered disrespectful, and if it does, the volunteers may point it out to you.
- Take off your footwear (along with your socks) before entering the main Gurudwara building. You can safely leave your shoes at the Shoe Counter on the right hand side of the main Gurudwara building. You will be given a token upon submitting your shoes, and your shoes will be handed back against the token.
- You can buy Prashad which is usually Halwa (a sweet dish) as an offering to the all mighty. First, buy a token for the amount you wish to buy the Prashad for, and then collect it from the adjoining counter. Everything in the Gurudwara is very systematic. Right opposite to the Prashad counter is another counter where Gurudwara workers collect a portion of the Prashad from the devotees and a portion is given back to you.
Once you’ve collected your Prashad, (polythene bags are available near the offering counter in case you need them to carry the Prashad) proceed inside the Gurudwara building for darshan. This was a mesmerizing experience for me, as the building is even more beautiful and peaceful inside, than outside. I will leave this to you to experience it yourself. (PS: Clicking pictures inside the Gurudwara is strictly prohibited. So, soak in the peace and positive vibes here.)
- Next, proceed to the pond near the main building. It is believed that a dip in the pond can cure your problems and wash away your sins. So, you may go ahead and take a dip in it. The pond also has various colourful fishes in it (don’t worry, they won’t harm you).
- Enjoy the langar at the Gurudwara. Langar is a meal served all afternoon to every visitor, irrespective of their social standing or religious affiliation. It mostly consists of dishes like khichdi, roti, bhaji and kheer. As I was running short of time, I couldn’t enjoy the langar here, but it definitely is on my to-do list.
It was a rejuvenating experience for me as it brought immense peace and content just sitting and listening to the continuous Kirtan. Your troubles and trials seem to take a back seat here. I look forward to visit more such places.