Paonta Sahib is the second holy place after Anandpur Sahib, where Guru Gobind Singh resided for a long time. He stayed at this place for a period of about four years from 1685 to 1689. It is situated on the bank of river Jamuna. It has a pleasing and peaceful surrounding, which touches the heart and soul of the devotee visitors. The following historical events have taken place at this location:-
Composition of many parts of Dasam Granth by Guru Gobind Singh
Pir Buddhu Shah fighting the battle of Bhanghani, in which, four of his sons sacrificed their life for the Guru.
Guru Gobind Singh blessing Pir Buddhu Shah with his Kes and Kangha.
Building of a fort named ‘Panvta’ by Guru Gobind Singh in 1685. It was used by the Guru during the battle of Bhanghani. It is the sacred place where Guru Gobind Singh held his darbar (court) and taught many valuable lessons to his Sikhs.
Before leaving for heavenly abode, Guru Gobind Singh declared Guru Granth Sahib to be the last and the final Guru of the Sikhs. Thereafter, a Gurdwara in the memory of Guru Gobind Singh was built at this place. This holy place was named as Paonta Sahib. The new building of Gurdwara was reconstructed in 1823 by Baba Kapur Singh. Funds for the same were provided by Sardar Sahib Singh Sandhanwalia. The shrine had about 120 acres of land attached to it. During the Gurdwara Reform Movement, Paonta Sahib was being managed by Mahant Lehna Singh. He was a devout Sikh. He presented himself at Darbar Sahib and wanted to hand over the control of the Gurdwara to SGPC. Looking at his humbleness and devotion, Sikhs allowed him to continue the management of the Gurdwara. After his death, his son Gurdial Singh took over the control of the Gurdwara. He established political connections with many leaders of that area. He started misusing the Gurdwara funds for his personal gains. Management of the Gurdwara deteriorated. Sikhs of that area started complaining such incidents to the SGPC, various Sikh Jathebandis (organisations) and leaders like Master Tara Singh, Kartar Singh and Hukam Singh.
Baba Chet Singh, head of Buddha Dal, went to Paonta Sahib. Fearing the Nihangs, Gurdial Singh apologized for his misdeeds and undertook Amritpan (initiation to Khalsa).
After Buddha Dal left for Punjab, Gurdial Singh resorted back to his old tricks. The local Sikhs again went to Punjab and approached Baba Harbhajan Singh, head of Tarna Dal. They requested him to take over the control of Gurdwara. Baba Harbhajan Singh went to Paonta Sahib and took control of the Gurdwara on March 10, 1964. Nihangs started Akhand Paath Sahib (continue recitation of the Holy Scripture). Kirtan, Katha and regular diwans were organised every day as per Sikh Rehat Maryada (norms). Number of visitors to the Gurdwara started increasing. This was not liked by Gurdial Singh. He hired some professional fighters and sought the help of the police to restore his control over the Gurdwara.
On May 22, 1964, the police invited Baba Harbhajan Singh to police station to resolve the issue with Gurdial Singh. On his arrival at police station, he was arrested by the police. Thereafter, the police went to the Gurdwara. They asked the Nihangs to come out of Gurdwara building. Nihangs did not come out as they were reciting the Holy Scripture. At last, the police forcefully entered the premises with shoes. They started firing at Sikhs. Nihangs reciting the Holy Scripture were also not spared and shot dead. As each Pathi (person reciting the Holy Scripture) was shot, another simply pushed his body and continued the uninterrupted recitation. Nihal Singh (21 year old at the time) continued with his choar sewa (even when he had been shot 3 times) until the last Pathi was shot. As the Akhand Path was interrupted, Nihal Singh finally fell on the ground. The only survivor was the youngest Sikh (an 11 year old, who was found hiding behind a nagara (drums)). All other Sikhs were presumed dead. The dead bodies were being loaded in a cart. The child saw Nihal Singh breathing and informed the local sikhs. Local Sikhs, who had gathered by that time, got him medical attention. Fortunately, Nihal Singh survived with the grace of the God. He was subsequently honoured by many Gurdwaras as “Jinda-Shaheed” (Living Martyr) Jathedar. 11 Nihangs of Tarna Dal sacrificed their life for the sanctity of the Gurdwara. Baba Nihal Singh became the next head of Tarna Dal.
After lengthy enquiries and court proceedings, the management of the Gurdwara was entrusted to an eleven-member committee with the president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee as its ex-officio chairman. Meanwhile, under a new piece of legislation, the Himachal Pradesh government permanently allotted most of the land formerly attached to Gurdwara Sri Paonta Sahib to some of its former tenants under the ‘Big Landed Estates Abolition Act’. At present, the Gurdwara complex is spread over three acres. It includes:-
Dastar Asthan, where robes of honour were given and where Dastar tying contests were also held.
Guru ka Langar, where free meals are serves to about 2,000 to 5,000 visitors every day.
Kavi Darbar Asthan, where literary works were written, recited and discussed
A memorial in the honour of Rishi Kalpi, whom the Guru had brought to stay at that place.
Gobind Ghat, the landing that leads into the river’s waters.