DHAKA (23 43N, 90 24` E), an old city now capital of Bangladesh, situated on the north bank of Burhi Ganga river, has shrines sacred to Guru Nanak and Guru Tegh Bahadur. Three such gurdwaras commemorating the visits of the Gurus to the city existed until the partition of the country in 1947, but only two of them are now extant GURDWARA NANAKSHAHI, situated in Ramna locality behind the Public Library adjoining the Dhaka University campus, marks the spot where Guru Nanak is believed to have preached at the time of his visit in 150708. A Sikh sangat grew up in the locality, then known as ShUja`atpur or Sujatpur.
Bhai Gurdas as well as Bhai Mani Singh has recorded one Bhai Mohan of Dhaka having visited the Punjab in the time of Guru Hargobind to seek his blessing. Sikh missionary centres were established by Guru Hargobind in the eastern parts under the guidance of Bhai Almast, one of the principal apostles of Baba Gurditta, Baba Sri Chand`s successor as head of the Udasi sect. Bhai Nattha was Almast`s representative in eastern Bengal and Assam. Masands were also appointed by the Gurus to guide and manage the sangats. Bulaki Das was the masand at the time of Guru Tegh Bahadur`s visit in the late 1660`s.
Bhai Nattha, who lived up to the time of Guru Tegh Bahadur, is said to have constructed the Gurdwara building, with a square sanctum, which still exists. It was repaired by Mahant Prem Das in 1833. The decorative art work on the interior wall was still intact when a Sikh commission visited it in January 1972 after Bangladesh emerged as a soverign State. A tank and a well, also said to have been dug by Bhai Nattha, however, no longer exist. In fact, a major portion of the land once belonging to the Gurdwara has been lost to appropriation by Dhaka University and by some individuals.
GURDWARA SANGAT TOLA, a double storeyed building situated along 14 Sorees Das Lane in the Barigia Bazar and lending its name to the entire locality, is dedicated to Guru Tegh Bahadur who stayed here in the house of a Sikh, Bhai Bulaki Das, in 1667-68. As says Bhai Santokh Singh, Srf Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, Bulaki Das`s old mother, who had long waited for a sight of the Guru, felt very pleased to have her wish fulfilled as he came and accepted from her hands garments of homespun cotton she had stitched for him.
The house in which Guru Tegh Bahadur had put up was converted into a dharamsala or gurdwara. It was known to possess one of the oldest handwritten copies of the Guru Granth Sahib and a few hukamnamas of Guru Gobind Singh. The Sikh commission that visited Dhaka in January 1972 attested to a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib autographed by Guru Gobind Singh, a portrait believed to be that of Guru Tegh Bahadur and two hukamnamas being still there.
GURU NANAK`S WELL (SIKHER MANDIR) or Sikhs` Temple in what was called Rayor Bazar to the north of old Dhaka city, was another shrine commemorating the visit of Guru Nanak.The well and the two roomed gurdwara with a vaulted roof was frequented by devotees of all faiths in the belief that the water of this well cured many diseases. But in 196061 the Pakistan government took over the entire area. levelled it up and sold it as habitation sites to develop what is now known as Dhan Mandi Colony. Another old shrine was the Suthrashahi Sarigat in the Urdu Bazar which for several decades before 1947 had been administered by the mahants of Gurdwara Nanakshahi. The site is untraceable now.
1. Tara Singh, Sri Gur Tirath Sangrahi. Amritsar, n.d.
2. Thakar Singh, Giani, Sri Gurduare Darshan. Amritsar, 1923