Gurdwara In Lakhpat

Lakhpat Gurdwara Pehli Patshahi

‘Sometimes you have to go back to where it all began to find yourself again, return to where you came from to feel some things again.’ I wrote on an Instagram post with a picture of the Gurdwara in Lakhpat. It was 2015, my first visit to Kutch.

At the time, I wasn’t even aware of the existence of the ancient fortified town of Lakhpat, let alone its importance. Located some 140 km from the city of Bhuj to the far northwest corner of Kutch, Lakhpat makes for an imposing sight with its massive 20 feet high walls rising up against the stark landscape of the Great Rann of Kutch on its east and Kori Creek on the west.

Basta Bander, as Lakhpat was called in the 16th century, was a flourishing trading port between Gujrat and Sindh. A part of the province of Sindh, its strategic location at the mouth of the Indus river on the Western edge of the Indian subcontinent meant that it was on all major trading routes in Western India.

According to folklore, it was because of the number of millionaires or lakhpatis living in the town between 1750 A.D. and 1820 A.D. that the name changed to Lakhpat (town of millionaires). Another story suggests that it was the daily revenue of one lakh kauris (the old currency of Kutch state) generated by its maritime trade that gave it its name.

Lakhpat Fort

The tide in its fortunes turned quite literally in 1819 when an earthquake devastated the town and changed the course of the Indus river. In one stroke, the bustling port turned into a barren forgotten town, and its stories of lakhpatis and kauris got buried in the ruins of its grand homes. All that remained were the massive fort walls, several temples, dargahs and the Gurdwara.

The Gurdwara in Lakhpat, also known as Gurdwara Pehli Patshahi (Gurdwara of the first master), was built to commemorate Guru Nanak Dev’s visits to Lakhpat during his second and fourth Udasis in 1506 – 1513 A.D. and 1519 -1521 A.D. respectively.

Home to holy relics like the Guru’s khadavas (wooden sandals) and his carved and painted wooden palki, it also has old manuscripts in Sindhi on the Gurbani, and the markings of two of the heads of the Udasi sect.

Guru Nanak Dev, the Founder and the first Guru of Sikhism, along with Bhai Mardana, travelled extensively through the Indian subcontinent as well as West Asia seeking wisdom and sharing it with those he met. These spiritual journeys, which began in 1499 A.D., were called Udasis (a prolonged absence from home).

Holy relics of Guru Nanak Dev ji (L) Khadavas (R) Palki

During two of those journeys on his way to Mecca, Guru Nanak Dev stayed at the home of a local Sindhi family of Lakhpat who preserved the house to commemorate his visits. Later, it wan established as a Tikana of the Udasi sect by the Guru’s son, Srichand.

The architectural style of the Lakhpat Gurdwara is typical of an Udasi dera with a unique courtyard structure. There’s an outer enclosure with a big gate and nagar khana (big drums), then comes the courtyard, a verandah and the room inside. It has an ancient well in its compound that is considered holy as it has sweet water, unlike the salty water that’s in the underground aquifers in the area.

The Gurdwara’s original structure is remarkably well preserved due to the conservation undertaken after the earthquake of 2001. In recognition of the effort, it was given the Asia Pa­cific Her­itage Con­ser­va­tion award by UNESCO in 2004.

Con­structed in lime­stone, the Gurdwara has chabu­tras and stat­ues in hu­man and an­i­mal form em­bed­ded to its walls. The ve­ran­dah has ex­quis­itely carved wooden columns and the walls are painted with motifs of the pe­riod – flowers, ships, royal per­son­age, etc. It has even retained the historic graffiti done on its walls by the pilgrims in the late 1800s describing the details about their journey in the ancient larivaar script.

It is this quality of keeping true to its origins then that gives the Gurdwara Pehli Patshahi Lakhpat an added dimension. The simplicity it embraces resonates deep within. It gives a lesson in the transience of life as seen in the fate of a once thriving port of millionaires reduced to an almost forgotten village of deserted streets and derelict homes.

With the stark expanse of the salt plains of the Great Rann on one side and the lapping waves of the Arabian Sea on the other, the Gurdwara in Lakhpat is a place that connects you deep within yourself to better understand those conversations you have with your god. The message it conveys is that the essence of faith is to be enduring, while remaining unaffected and unchanged, through time and tide.

Gurdwara In Lakhpat

29 thoughts on “Gurdwara In Lakhpat”

    1. Thanks a ton Aunty 🙂 I was remembering all the days we spent there together…such wonderful memories :))

  1. What a beautiful Article Mrs Nayar. After reading this one feels like visiting the place. Very well penned down!!

  2. Ma’am tussi great ho.. We really admire & appreciate your energy levels to do all these kind of activities. We think ek chakkar toh banta hai. Warm Regards 🙏🏻

    1. Thanks a ton Randeep 🙂 Bilkul banta hai…especially with the Indep in loc…this is the best opportunity :))

  3. The last line is so beautiful, that is how I would want to live my life.
    This piece brought back so many lovely memories. Visualized the place, the fort, everything through your words. Remember the three of us ( you, Kavitha and I), taking a walk in the night on the outskirts, the sky was so alive.

    1. I’m so touched by your words Aparna 💜 You know, even I thought of that crazy midnight walk that the three of us went on…it was such an amazing experience…the moon was unbelievable…I think I might even have a grainy picture of that walk. Such incredible memories!

    2. How can we forget that, Aparna? May be we took a left instead of right and ended up in the right place 🤗😂. Miss you girl. Look forward to many more crazy memories.

  4. WOW!! What a lesson in history too, besides the deftly handled elucidation by you about the historic LAKHPAT GURUDWARA SAHIB….a gurudwara tucked away in an obscure corner of Kutch. The Rip Van Winkles and the ilk are shaken up to come alive to this vast oasis of warmth and peace. Yes, the unwavering faith surely is a constant which keeps one going.
    Kudos to you for unfolding this beautiful flower, petal by petal.

    1. Thank you so much for such wonderfully motivating words Mrs Sachar 💜 I always look forward to your feedback…it gives a great insight into what’s resonated with you… greatly appreciate it… thank you again :))

  5. No one is left untouched after their visit to Lakhpat. The moment I first visited the place during the recce I knew I found my place and start line for the runners. The first baba who was there for first two years is sorely missed. The place, it’s history, the silence all around and it’s people have a place in my heart. Beautifully written, Rush. I miss our photography sheath mode and the labor of love of marking and executing the race. The many chais and unending banter, and the ‘silence of the desert’ 😂Let’s go make some more memories.

    1. So true Kavitha, no one is left untouched after their visit to Lakhpat. And you are responsible for getting me to the Rann of Kutch 🙂 All of us recall those days with immense fondness and the wish to return some day. Let’s make that happen! Thank you for writing in – it’s made my day and how…hugs

  6. Loved reading it, very interesting. You have describeed it so well, makes one want to visit the place. Never heard of it before. Lovely read.

  7. Rashmi it is always a treat reading what you write . A gurudwara in an interesting setting made to come alive with your beautifully worded description

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