Delhi is known for its vast number of religious monuments, from Islamic mosques to Catholic churches, and from Hindu temples and Buddhist monasteries. Gurudwara Bangla Sahib is another of these monuments, and acts as a Sikh house of worship.
Located in Connaught Place within the centre of New Delhi, Bangla Sahib is the most prominent Gurudwara in all of Sikhism. It is known for its striking golden dome and its iconic tall flagpole outside the main hall. Despite a very active place of worship for all Sikhs in New Delhi, Bangla Sahib also acts as an important tourist attractions for the masses who flock to India’s national capital territory. In fact, in accordance with Sikh traditions and values, members of all religions are allowed to access the areas within Bangla Sahib.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by a Sikh guy in the Visitors’ Centre who asked me very politely if I wanted to walk around by myself or if I wanted a guide (which would have been him, I guess). I said I wanted to walk around myself, as I was concerned about the unpredictable weather, which was spitting with rain one minute, and then bursting with faint sunshine the next. I was then informed to remove my shows so as to be in keeping with Sikh tradition, and to enjoy my visit!
Inside the Gurudwara complex, is a large pool called the Sarovar. This pool is thought to contain Holy Water, according to Sikh beliefs. During the time Har Krishan resided here, there was a couple of fatal pandemics in Delhi, such as smallpox and cholera, and he helped to treat the sick and the poorly by allowing them to drink fresh water from his well in the gardens. Even though it was a very overcast morning in Delhi when I visited, I was still left in awe of the size of the Sarovar, which was adorned with visitors who were bathing and drinking from its water.
The Sarovar was much larger than I had been expecting. In fact, the entire Gurudwara complex was much larger than I had been expecting. I thought the likes of Qutab Minar and Humayun’s Tomb, two of my favourite locales in Delhi, were situated in very large grounds, but Bangla Sahib somehow just felt enormous within the close confines of Connaught Place. It was very easy to get lost inside Bangla Sahib, especially with the number of visitors here, both the religious visitors and the tourists.
Although I cannot find the photos, there is a quaint little art gallery here, as well as a school and a large communal kitchen available for Sikhs who are practicing their religion within the complex. I am told there is also a hospital at Bangla Sahib, but I am not sure if that information is correct. Yet, surely one of the most impressive parts of the entire Bangla Sahib complex is The Langar Hall. Central to Sikh religion is the serving of others, so in this kitchen within the Langar Hall, over 20,000 meals are said to be served daily, all served by volunteers! I also observed that everyone say together to eat their meals as equals, which is again a virtue of Sikhism.
I have always been interested in the Sikh religion, despite not being at all religious myself. I know a lot about Hinduism, and especially Buddhism due to my travels all over Asia. So in my first experience of Sikhism, I found all Sikhs to be very kind and compassionate people, and I was very impressed by their hospitality here at Bangla Sahib. Alongside, Jama Masjid (Islam) and the Lotus Temple (Bahai), Gurudwara Bangla Sahib ranks as one of the most impressive religious structures in Delhi – and in terms of spirituality and hospitality, it is second to none!