By Maaria Waseem
I photographed a house on Temple Road,Lahore with Zoroastrian symbolism which led me to find out why this road was called Temple Road. I thought maybe there was a Zoroastrian temple on this road but to my surprise i found a beautiful Sikh temple of Guru Har Gobind, called “Gurdwara Chatti Badshahi”.
This Gurdwara Comes under the Aukaf Department now and a small family lives here as caretakers. When we enter the Gurdwara on the right side are the living Quarters for the caretaker’s family and on the left side is the prayer hall and in the center is a courtyard.
The building is very simple and is designed in typical British Colonial Period style of Architecture.
Guru Har Gobind (5 July 1595 – 19 March 1644) was the sixth of the Sikh gurus and became Guru on 25 May 1606 following in the footsteps of his father Guru Arjan Dev. He was eleven years old, when he became the Guru, after his father’s execution by the Mughal emperor Jahangir. He is remembered for initiating a military tradition within Sikhism to resist Islamic persecution and protect the freedom of religion. He had the longest tenure as Guru, lasting 37 years, 9 months and 3 days.
Gurdwara Chatti Badshahi
Coming south from Upper Mall on Temple Road, just a little beyond Safanwala Chowk (the crossing of Mozang Road and Temple road) lies this important Sikh monument, for it is here that the Sixth Guru Hari Gobind, the Chatawan Badshah (the Sixth Badshah) would occasionally reside.
Temple Road is in fact named after this Sikh temple, known also as Chatti (Sixth) Badshahi in local parlance. You will need to make a ‘U’ turn if you are traveling by car. Temple road is quite crowded and it may be best to park the car and walk across to the doorway, which is distinguishable only because there is a flight of steps leading up to it.
The Durbar Sahib (as it is also referred to by the Sikhs) can be easily missed in view of its being hemmed in by shops and lack of signage; you will be well advised to ask somebody for the exact location of the Sikh Gurdwara (temple). The niazar of saint Shah Abu lshaq Qadri (popularly known as Shah Abu) is in close proximity, a few steps south off Temple Road, on the same side as the gurdwara.
A flight of steps leads you up to a platform, approximately 6′ above the street level, which provides access into a verandah and a courtyard.
Across the courtyard is a single storey elongated concrete structure which houses the central platform on which the Holy Garanth is placed during prayers.
Although well maintained, it normally presents a rather forlorn appearance with only a couple of attendants on duty. In the late 19th century, Latif had recorded the festivity associated with this temple when on the sixth of every month Sikhs would assemble in large numbers in this well-illuminated building to commemorate the memory of the Sixth Badshah, and Karah Parshad (a kind of sweetmeat) would be distributed.
No doubt a similar scene is witnessed when a festival is held from June 15 to July 15, and the Durbar Sahib is visited by Sikhs from all over the world.
A tree, known locally as ‘Jandi’ can be seen on the edge of the courtyard where the Sixth Badshah is reputed to have tethered his horse whenever he resided here.
The very old tree in the Gurdwara called “Jandi”
Interior of the Gurdwara
The Marble Platform For the Granth Sahib
The Flag Pole for Nishan Sahib
The Legend of Mata Kaulan
It is claimed that a gent by the name of Qazi Rustam Khan kidnapped, or purchased a Hindu girl and converted her to Islam. Her name was Kaulan, the fearless.
She was sent to Sain Mian Mir for religious instruction, who after a few sessions informed Rustam Khan that Kaulan was a very special and pure girl, and that she had a special affection for the Almighty that is above any religious sect or order.
Sikh sources claim she was tortured and misused. But she professed openly that she was a disciple of Guru Hargobind, and sent him her story of torture and mistreatment, who legend has it first consulted Hazrat Mian Mir.
The guru came to the house on Temple Road and tied his horse to a nearby tree. That tree still exists and has a special place in Sikh history. His sole condition to assist her, as was that of Mian Mir, was that the Guru would not rescue her from inside the house of Rustam Khan, but that she must come to him herself.
So Kaulan overcame that by escaping from the vent window of the house of Rustam Khan and came to the guru, who removed her to Amritsar. The guru consulted Hazrat Mian Mir twice, who agreed that she was a special and pious person.
At Amritsar she lived, prayed, and established a name in Sikh history. When she was about to die, she called Guru Hargobind and informed him of the coming event of her departure. The guru agreed that she had just 24 hours left, and that she must keep on seeking the Almighty’s blessing. On that special note she met her end.
The role of Mata Kaulan is very special in Sikh history. Maharajah Ranjit Singh built an excellent huge temple at the place where the escape took place, and the tree where the guru tied his horse still exists.
This article was first published in Maaria Waseem‘s personal blog.