Located in the heart of Chandni Chowk, Delhi’s most popular marketplace, Gurudwara Sis Ganj Sahib is a historical shrine as it marks the exact site where in 1675 Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, was mercilessly beheaded on orders by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb when he refused to embrace Islam & fought for the Hindus’ right to practice their own faith.
The Guru was a true brave heart & had a tremendous following. One of his disciples actually stole his beheaded body from where it had been kept for the night before being quartered in public the next day & set fire to his own house in order to give the sacred body a proper cremation.
Another courageous disciple stole the Guru’s severed head or Sis (pronounced as ‘Sees’ or ‘Sheesh’) & cremated it at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. A Gurudwara by the very same name (Sis Ganj) stands at the site of the cremation of his sacred head as well.
Across the narrow road from the Gurudwara stands a small shrine marking the area where three of the Guru’s closest disciples were individually burnt alive, boiled in a cauldron & cut in half as part of the severe atrocities committed by the emperor on hundreds of the Guru’s followers during that period. Beholding these vile acts depicted at this spot as an artist’s reconstruction still sends a chill down the spines of the onlookers.
The Sis Ganj Gurudwara is built in the Mughal architectural style with mesh-work windows, pavilions & parapets all in sandstone instead of the usual white marble like the other Gurudwaras. It is known to have served as a Mosque & a Gurudwara alternating itself owing to the sensitive political climate for a long time before finally being converted into a full-fledged Gurudwara with Gold-Gilded Domes In 1930.
It has a separate building that serves as the Langar (free kitchen) as well as accommodation for visitors & the homeless. It also houses relics from the Guru’s life, such as the well from where he drank while in prison there & the trunk of the tree under which he was executed. Devotees come here from far & wide to pay their respects to the brave Sikh Guru.
The main prayer hall is a beautiful two-storey structure with a high ceiling, huge glass chandeliers & the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikhs’ Holy book is kept in all regalia at the front. Holy texts are recited, explained & Bhajan Kirtans (devotional songs) are sung in the praise of the lord all day long.
One thing that sets the Gurudwaras apart from other places of worship is the exceptional sense of camaraderie among the people here. More often than not you’ll find a helpful, kind looking Sikh who’ll guide you through the place & give you all the necessary knowledge about its significance & code of conduct.
The Gurudwara personnel & regular-looking visitors are invariably amiable and will always have some interesting fact or two to share with you about their religion & its history. It’s an enriching experience every single time.
The Gurudwara is a minute’s walk away from the Chandni Chowk Metro Station & is in the vicinity of other popular tourist sites like the Red Fort & Jama Masjid.
When looking for some peace and serenity, don't miss this sacred gem!