FATEHGARH SAHIB, GURDWARA, 5 km north of Sirhind (30°37`N, 76°23`E), marks the site of the execution of the two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh at the behest of Wazir Khan of Kunjpura, the faujdar of Sirhind. As Guru Gobind Singh evacuated Anandpur on the night of 5-6 December 1705, he was closely pursued by the host. In front ran the Sarsa swollen with rain water. Under cover of a quick rearguard action fought on the banks of the stream, he succeeded in crossing it, but the members of his family got scattered in the tumult.

Guru Gobind Singh`s old mother, Mata Gujari, and her two grandsons, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, aged 9 and 7 years respectively, had nowhere to go until their cook, named Gangu, offered to lake them to his own village Khen. They accompanied him to his house. But he proved deceitful and betrayed them to Jam Khan and Man! Khan of Morinda. Tlie latter at once despatched them to Sirhind where they were consigned to the Gold Tower (Thanda Burj) of the Fort. On 9 December 1705, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh were produced before Wazir Khan.

who had just returned from the battle of Chamkaur. WaxTr Khan tried to lure them to embrace Islam with promises of riches and honours, but they spurned the offer.He threatened them with death as an alternative to Islam, but they remained firm. A death sentence was eventually awarded. Nawab Sher Muhammad Khan of Malerkoila protested that it would be improper to harm the innocent children.

Waxir Khan, however, ordered them to be bricked up alive in a wa!l, if they still refused conversion. They were kept in the Gold Tower in that severe winter for another two days. On 11 December, they, under the orders of Waxir Khan began to be paved with bricks standing on the ground. However, as the masonry reached above chest height, it crumbled. The next day, 12 December 1705, the Sahibxadaswere once again offered the choice of conversion or death.

They chose the latter and fearlessly faced the executioner`s sword. The cruelty of their murder and their fcarlcssness of death which they preferred to giving up their faith finds a touching narration in “GarijiShahTdari” an Urdu poem by a Muslim poet, Allahyar Khan Jogi, who used to recite it from Sikh platforms during the second and third decades of the twentieth century. The aged Mata Gujari who had all along been confined in the Cold Tower, only a little distance away, breathed her last as the news reached her cars. The dead bodies were kept for the night at a spot now called Bimangarh, just outside the fort wall, and were cremated the following day by Scth Todar Mall, a wealthy merchant of Sirhind.

Sirhind suffered the full fury of Sikh ire when Banda Singh Bahadur marched upon it with his daring host. Wazir Khan was killed and the city was occupied on 14 May 1710. Diwan Suchchanand, who had explicitly championed the penalty laid upon the captives by the faujddr, was captured and tortured to death. The town, including the Fort, was razed to the ground. A memorial was raised marking the spot where the Sahibzadas were martyred and named Fatehgarh.

Sirhind, however, soon fell back into the hands of the Mughals and was later conqucrred by Ahmad Shah Durrani who appointed Zain Kbanfaujddr`m 1761. As Zain Khan was finally defeated and killed in battle on MJanuary 1764 by the Dal Khalsa and as the Sikhs occupied the country around Sirhind, no Sikh Sardar was willing to keep the accursed town.It was consequently conferred upon BhaT Buddha Singh, a pious and humble Sikh. He later sold it to Baba Ala Singh, founder of the Patiala dynasty. To honour the memory of the young martyrs, a gurdwdrd was constructed on the site of the old memorial and named Fatehgarh Sahib.

Maharaja Karam Singh (1798-1845) ofPaliala had the giirdwdrd rebuilt. He also gave Sirhind Nizamat (district) the name of Fat Sahib. Other shrines were, in course i established around the central Gurdw over a century the management ( shrines at Fatehgarh Sahib rcmainec hands of local priests.In 1906, a con consisting of custodians of the di shrines was formed. In 1944, Paliala ment constituted an Interim Gurdwar and an Improvement Committ Gurdwaras Fatehgarh Sahib andJoti After the formation of the Patiala a Punjab Stales Union (PEPSU) inJu the Interim Board was amalgamated Dharam Arth (Religious Endow Board.

Upon the unification of PEP East Punjab into a single state of the the gurdwdrds in PEPSU passed un control of ihc Shiromani Gu Parbandhak Committee. Renovate development originally planned by provemcnt Committee of 1944 were l hand in 1955-56.The architectural design of the building is IndoMuslim, with its flai pyramidal construction over a squan ribbed lotus dome on top, mosaic fli a richly patterned ceiling, radiati cuspcd arches, and projecting win< stands on an extensive mound and coi the landscape for miles around. Th storcyed edifice on a raised platfon divan hall on the ground floor, with ment below and a central pavilion an on top.

The basement called Bhor contains the old brick enclosure bel be the exact site of the execution Sahibzadas. The Guru Granth Sahit cd here with holy relics, hilt of a sw` a dagger and a rusteaten fragme doubleedged weapon. The divan h; marble floor and an artistically pz ceiling with the Guru Granth Sahib s the centre in a gilded pdlaki, portab pied seal, on a marble platform.Th< cd lotus at the apex of the dome ab the pinnacle are covered with goldplated sheets and have an umbrellashaped gold finial. So are the domes of the four kiosks one at each corner of the roof.

The threcsioreyed gateway is topped by decorative canopied pavilions and a clocktower. GURUWARA BIMANGARH is a small, simple hut of baked bricks, 100 metres east of the main Gurdwara. It marks the place where dead bodies of the three martyrs were kept for the night, and their hearses prepared prior to cremation. It is managed by the Niharig Singhs. GURDWARA SAHIB JOTI SARUP, about 1.5 km southeast of Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib indicates the site where the mortal remains of the mother and two younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh were cremated.

After the deaths of Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh and of Mata Gujari, Scth Todar Mall, a wealthy and influential citi/en of Sirhind, made arrangements to perform the last riles. But no one would give him a patch of land in the locality to be used as cremation ground until one ChaudhariAtta agreed to sell him a plot. His stipulation was that Todar Mall could take only as much space as he could cover with gold mohars. The Seth produced the coins and bought the piece of land he needed. He cremated the three corpses and a Sikh, Jodh Singh living in Altevali village, buried the ashes.

At the time of the conquest of Sirhind by Banda Singh Bahadur in 1710 or later by the Dal Khalsa in 1764, no memorial was raised at this place, so that when Maharaja Karam Singh of Patiala got Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib rebuilt, he had to search for and determine the exact spot of cremation. The urn containing the ashes was at last discovered and he got a gurdward built over it in 1843 and named ilJoti Sarup. A century later, in 1944, Maharaja Yadavindcr Singh set up a committee for the improvement of Fatehgarh Sahib andJoti Sarup. Consequently two upper storeys and a dome were added to the building in 1955.

Earlier, when a Jodhpur prince, Himmat Singh, married Princess Shailcndra Kaur of Patiala in 1951, the Maharaja of Jodhpur donated money for the construction of a separate shrine dedicated to the sacred memory of Mata Gujari.This samadh, a small square canopied platform built in while marble, stands in the southwestern corner of the circumambulatory verandah on the ground floor. During the annual Sabha festival, the most dramatic event is a mass procession on 13 Poh taken out from Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib and ending at Gurdwara Jou Sarup. At the latter place, Kirtan Sohild and Anandu Sahib arc recited followed by supplication in memory of the martyrs.

Witli this the programme officially comes to an end. GURDWARA MATA GUJARI is close to the main Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib. Both are, in fact, situated on the same mound of ruins of the old Fort of Sirhind.Thanda Burj used to be a high tower built at a bend of the rampart of the Fort. Owing to its exposure to wind currents from all directions and to a water current from below it was a pleasant resort for tlic jaujddr to spend his hot summer afternoons.

In winter, however, it was intolerably cold. When Mata Gujari and her grandsons were brought to Sirhind as captives in the cold season (8 December 1705),, they were detained in this Tower. When Banda Singh Bahadur sacked Sirhind in 1710, tlic Gold Tower escaped destruction. But in the turbulent limes that followed, the water channel running below it was blocked and disappeared, and the topmost portion of the tower fell down.After tlic establishment of Sikh rule in 1764, it became a revered place of pilgrimage, but its renovation had to wait until the Improvement Committee for Gurdwaras Fatehgarh Sahib and JotI Sarup was constituted in 1944.

Actual work on the implementation of plans prepared by the Committee, however, commenced only in 1955-56. Since then except for a portion of the original Fort wall, the place has been changed into an entirely new building, modest but elegant in design, a noble memorial to the illustrious Mata, Mother. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated in the room on the ground floor. A narrow winding staircase leads up to the first floor, a bare room with a low platform in the centre and a lotus dome above.

There was a tradition, now discredited, that Mata Gujari, on hearing of the execution of her grandchildren, jumped down from the tower over the Fort wall. There is a small room near the foot of the stairs which was believed to be the exact spot where she fell dead. The Guru Granth Sahib is installed in this room as well. This shrine was further renovated in recent decades. The top room has been converted into a domed pavilion and the dome is covered with gilded copper plates. SHAH!D GANJ (I) is a low square platform with a flagpost, in the northern part of the inner compound of the main Gurdwara.

It marks the site of the cremation of Sikhs who laid down their lives at the time ofBanda Singh`s conquest of Sirhind in 1710. This shrine, too, is attended by the Niharig Singhs. SHAIliD GANJ (II) is a small gurdwdrd, 300 metres south of the main shrine. In the days of fierce persecution which overtook the Sikhs after Banda Singh Bahadur, decapitation of their heads was a favourite sport. It is said that once the Dal Khalsa captured 40 cartloads of such heads being carried from Lahore for presentation to the Emperor at Delhi.

These heads were cremated on the site now occupied by Gurdwara Shahid Ganj (II). According to anotlicr tradition, this Shahidganj is a memorial to Jathedar Malla Singh who fell here fighting against Zain Khan in 1764. The present building was raised in 1955-56.SHAHin GANJ BABA SUKKHA SINGH, half a kilometre north of the main Gurdwara, is a memorial to a Sikh commander, Sukkha Singh, who fell a martyr here in the battle against Zain Khan in 1764.

THARA SAHIB PATSHAHI CIIHEViN, a simple platform inside a low brickwall enclosure, is dedicated to Guru Hargobind who, according to local tradition, stayed here awhile during his travels through these parts. Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, with affiliated shrines, is administered directly by the ShiromanT Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. In addition to the daily programme of morning and evening services and kirfan, largely attended assemblies are held on the first of each BikramT month. The notable event of the year is a fair, popularly known as Sabha, held on 11,12 and 13 of Poh, which fall during the last week of December, to commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh`s sons, Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh, and Mata Gujari.

References :

1. Tara Singh, Sri Gur Tirath Sangrahi Amritsar, n.d.
2. Thakar Singh, Giani, Sri Gurduare Darshan. Amritsar 1923
3. Padam, Piara Singh, Char Sahibzade. Patiala, 1988