Histories forgotten - The obscure gurdawara of Jhelum


Jhelum is an ancient city with a number of historical sites which getting out of the site because of they have been neglected over the time and often left abandoned. The "Bhai Karam Singh Gurdawara" is one of those sites.

The sacred site of Gurdwara Bhai Karam Singh is showing its splendour in the Bagh Muhalla, Jhleum on the river bank of River Jhelum. No exact date is mentioned when this Gurdawara was built, but the sign plates shows that it dates back to early 1920s. Earlier, It had only small piece of land; but gradually, with the mutual contributions of various people like Raies e Azam Lahore bawa Dinga Singh, Bhai Karam Singh Ahluwalia, an outstanding two floor Gurdawara was built. The most prominent name among all the contributors was Bhai Karam Singh Ahluwalia; that’s the reason it’s being associated with his name. According to the historian’s the expansions of Gurdawara took it 6 years from 1938 to 1944.

Outside view of Gurdawara Bahi Karam Singh, Jhelum
Outside view of Gurdawara Bahi Karam Singh, Jhelum

Front door of the yellow colored building opens in North-West side; in a less crowded street of Bagh Muhalla. Unlike other Sikh Gurdawaras this exterior of this building does not have any minaret or arches. Entering the beautifully carved wooden front door you have rooms on your both sides.

Front entrance door of Gurdawara
Front entrance door of Gurdawara

Gurdawara has a big hall in its middle with a remainder of the foundation, which was possibly used to install holy Guru Garnath Sahib. Contradicting with this; some people have other opinions saying that it’s a remainder of the foundation of Palki and Guru Garnath Sahib was placed over it. There is a text written over it in "Gurmukhi" language. Text starts with the word, "Ik Onkar" which means God is one.

Place to install holy Guru Garnath Sahib in the main hall
Place to install holy Guru Garnath Sahib in the main hall. "Ik Onkar.Is thare di sewa Shrimati Gurdai ne apne swargwasi shri pati Sardar Hari Singh Khandpur Ji di yaad vich krai. Katak Pooranmashi 1985(1928)"

Main hall is decorated with black and white tiles. Woodwork on the terrace first floor is eye catching; crafted to preserve very minor details. This beautiful terrace surrounds the main hall from three sides and it is still in good condition without being taken care of.

Main hall of the Gurdawara
Main hall of the Gurdawara

The hall has three cupboards on North-East side with the holy Gurmukhi scripts (common script used for writing the Punjabi language) written over it. An old wooden cupboard is placed on the South-West side with very detailed wood architecture also having craved scripts craved. A masterpiece like this, which should have been preserved in our cultural heritage, is in daily use of CIA department Jhelum.

Gurdawara Jhelum
Wooden cupboard placed in the main hall Satgur ka darsan safal hai Jo ichho so Phall pao.

English translation: "The viewing or meeting with the true Guru is a success ...and you get the desires fulfilled as per your thoughts and wishes."

At the bottom the name of the donator is written

"Sewa krai Shrimati Bhagsudhi Matala Aagia Ram thekedaar Rawalpindi 1946." 

"This is volunteered by Mrs. Bhagsudhi Matala in the memory of Aagia Ram thekedaar in 1946."

A cupboard with a Gurmukhi script
A cupboard with a Gurmukhi script Wahu wahu Guru Gobind Singh Aape Guru Chela

This script can be translated as, "Guru Gobind is wonderous, You are the creator of the Khalsa and also its student/server."

The whole building has 20 rooms; they were used by Yatries coming from distance places to pay a visit. These rooms are called Vishram Ghar or most commonly known as Yatri Niwas.

Outer view of the gurdawara


Main hall has three main doors & three windows that open on South-East side towards the Jhelum River. This side of the building is now fading; you can clearly see red bricks showing up; harsh weathers and negligence of respective department are its dominant factors. Walking from one of those three doors there is a big courtyard with view of Jhelum River; which is also decorated with black and white tiles. There would have been a vast and beautiful view of river from the courtyard; but now, like most of our rivers Jhelum is walking ashamed. The courtyard has “Ashnan Gaths” on its both sides. There is also a place for the people to arrive by boat. Stairs on the both (North & West) sides of the courtyard takes you to the first floor.

&Back yard view of the Gurdawara;
"Ashnan Gaths" are in terrible condition;
View of Jhelum river standing in the backyard. 

Walking from the narrow stairs on the West; you reach on the first floor; totally abandoned and left for tear down

A view of an abandoned room at first floor.
A view of an abandoned room at first floor.
View of the main hall from first floor
View of the main hall from first floor
Another view of an abandonded room
Another view of an abandonded room
A colorful window at first floor.
A colorful window at first floor.

Now days, this building is in use of the CIA department Jhelum and pay rent to Auqaf Department. Lending the building the CIA department somehow is a better step in some ways than leaving it alone for the people and junkies who could change its view in no time. Common people are not allowed to visit the place thus protracting it from invades. People from CIA department told, Many Sikh Yatri come to visit this Gurdawara in Wasakhi & they are put in tears when they see the condition of this building. In the floods of 2010 & 2014, being on the bank of the river the Gurdawara was affected badly.

One of doors in the front of Gurdawara
One of doors in the front of Gurdawara
Darshan of Gurdawara

The historical heritage of a nation is a bond which keeps it connected to its past. The nations who forget their past cannot shape up their future positively. Having in mind the religious as well as historical significance of this prestigious building it is requested to the concerned departments to extend their efforts to make this building safe for the next generations. This Gurdawarah should be taken back from CIA department and given to National Heritage department so that it could be repaired and polished well frequently. In this way it will take the status of a historical site which people will visit and gain the knowledge about the past of this land.

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