SHAHABAD (30″10`N, 7653E), also called Shahabad Markanda, is an old town in Kurukshetra district of Haryana on the left bank of the Markanda River, 20 km south of Ambala Cantonment. During the medieval period it had a fortified serai used by imperial officers and troops moving between Delhi and the northern provinces. It also had a resident garrison to guard the highway. Banda Singh Bahadur reduced and plundered Shahabad in 1709.
Later, when, after the conquest of Sirhind by the Dal Khalsa in January 1764, the Sikhs started occupying territory, Nishananvali misi, under Dasaundha Singh and Sangat Singh, took possession of a long and narrow stretch of land south of the Sutlej, extending from Singhanvala in Firozpore district up to Shahabad with Ambala as the headquarters. The territory of Shahabad and Ismailabad fell to Sardar Mehar Singh. Several attempts were made by the Afghans to dislodge the Sikhs, but they were repulsed every time.
It was during this period, between 1770 and 1780, that a magnificent old mosque, said to have been built by Emperor Shah Jahan in 1630, was converted into a gurdwara. The only major change was the demolition of its minarets. The gurdwara was named Mastgarh, this designation being commonly used for giirdwaras converted from mosques. Bhai Prem Singh of Hazur Sahib was appointed the first granthl. Gurdwara Mastgarh is on a high ground in the northeastern part of the town.
The original prayer hall, under a high dome is used as the divan hall. The Guru Granth Sahib is seated in the centre in front of the mihrab. Bullet marks on the exterior surface of the domes and the walls still bear witness to the turbulence the country went through in the eighteenth century. The Gurdwara is affiliated to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee which administers it through a local committee.
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