The Historical Gurudwaras of Karnataka - Part 1
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
This is Part 1 of a series of two articles. Stay Tuned for more!
A Gurdwara is a congregational worship place for Sikhs. The literal meaning of the Punjabi word Gurdwara is 'the residence of the Guru', or 'the door that leads to the Guru'. In a modern Gurdwara, the Guru is not a person, but the book of Sikh scriptures called the Guru Granth Sahib that is seated under a royal canopy. It is the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib that gives the Gurdwara its religious status, so any building containing the Guru Granth Sahib is a Gurdwara. Although a Gurdwara may be called the residence of the Guru (meaning the residence of God), Sikhs believe that God is present everywhere.
The first Gurdwara in the world was built by Guru Nanak in 1521-22 CE at Kartarpur Sahib (now in Pakistan). Before the time of Guru Arjan Dev (Fifth Sikh Guru), the place of Sikh religious activities was known as a Dharamsala, which means place of faith. Gurdwaras today across the globe serve as a center for people from all background to come and worship, perform services in the free community kitchen (Langar) and also provide shelter to those in need. Every Gurdwaras has a Flag post called the Nishan sahib which is a sign that a Gurudwara exists at this place. Since Sikh faith does not have a formal priestly practice, everyone can partake in seva (Selfless volunteering). Children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens pretty much partake in any service that they wish to do at the Gurdwara.
Any person who visits the Gurdwara is required to remove their footwear, wash their hands, feet and cover their head before they enter the main hall. They can sit and enjoy the bliss of hymns and sermons given within the Gurdwara. After the singing of hymns have been completed, an order of the day is read from Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Followed by the prayers, Karah Parshad (a pudding made of wheat flour and clarified butter) is served to everyone in the congregation. Then everyone gathers at the Langar Hall (Free community kitchen) where people from all backgrounds sit and share a meal together.
Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Sahib (Bidar, Karnataka)
During his second udasi (missionary tour) of south India between 1510-1514 A.D., Guru Nanak after sojourning through Nagpur and Khandwa visited the ancient Hindu temple of Omkareshwar on the Narmada and reached Nanded (where 200 years later Guru Gobind Singh spent his last days). From Nanded he proceeded towards Hyderabad and Golconda where he met Muslim saints and then arrived at Bidar to meet Pir Jalaluddin and Yakoob Ali.
According to the Janamsakhis (Historical references), the Guru accompanied by his companion Mardana stayed in the outskirts of the Bidar. Nearby were the huts of Muslim fakirs, who took keen interest in the sermons and teachings of the great guru. The news soon spread throughout Bidar and its surrounding areas about the holy saint of the north and large number of people started coming to him to have his darshan and seek his blessings. There used to be acute shortage of drinking water in Bidar. All efforts of the people to dig wells were of no avail. Even when wells produced water the water was found to be unfit for drinking.
The guru was greatly moved by the miserable condition of the people, and while uttering Sat Kartar, shifted a stone and removed some rubble from the place with his wooden sandal. To the utter surprise of all, a spring of cool and fresh water that has flowed to this day. This is how the place soon came to be known as Nanak Jhira (Jhira=Stream). The crystal-clear stream that still flows out of a rock near the Gurudwara is believed to be the Guru's blessings.
A beautiful Gurdwara has been constructed in 1948 by the side of the spring. The water from the spring is collected in a small Amrit Kund (a holy water tank) built opposite the front stairs of the Gurudwara. It is believed that a holy dip is enough to cleanse the body as well as the soul. There is a free community kitchen (Guru Ka Langar) where free food is given to pilgrims 24 hours night and day. A Sikh museum has been built in the memory of Guru Tegh Bahadur, depicting the important events of Sikh history through pictures and paintings.
In respect of Gurudwara Sri Nanak Jhira Sahib, It will not be out of place to mention that this Gurudwara is second super natural occurrences of Guru Nanak, whereas, the first one was Sri Punja Sahib (Now in Pakistan & strictly prohibited for free visits), Hence Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Sahib is the Second Punja Sahib of India.
Left: The Spring of clean water (Jhira) that flows till this date
Right: The Inner Darbar Hall of
Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Sahib, Bidar
Above: Exterior view of the Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Sahib
 Dalal Roshan The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths. Penguin UK,2014  Baba Harnam Singh, Hazuri Didare, Mehboobiya Press Nanded  Khalsa Paramjeet Singh, Tera Ek Naam Tare Sansar (Punjabi),s.s.brothers Nanded,2000  Cheema Zafar,Director Dayal Singh Research and Cultural Forum,Lahore 2004