Gurdwara Paonta Sahib is situated at the place where 16 year old Guru Gobind Singh dismounted his horse to first touch foot in the Kingdom of Sirmour. The Guru had been invited by Raja Medini Prakash, the ruler of Sirmour to visit his kingdom. The Raja, as many other stories relate, was very hopeful of establishing a strong relationship with the powerful Sikh Guru. As a special gesture of respect, the Raja, members of his court and his city’s leading merchants had left the security of his palace in the Kingdom’s capital – Nahan, to greet his guest and his large party of Sikhs, the Sangat (congregation) and soldiers as well.
It was much safer in such dangerous times; the Raja of Srinagar, Garhwal Phatshah had recently taken over some villages (part of his Kingdom) and then there were the roving bands of Mughal soldiers to worry about, as well. It would have been easier to just stay in the safety of one’s own palace or fort waiting for guests to arrive, but the special greeting was meant to make sure that the Guru and his Sikhs felt especially welcomed. The warm welcome apparently had the desired effect for Guru Gobind Singh would spend the next four years at Poanta and leave a written account in which he described his time at Poanta Sahib as the happiest years of his life. The Guru wrote:
- “I enjoyed myself on the banks of Yamuna and saw amusements of different kinds.”
Poanta Sahib was built on the bank of the Yamuna River and began its life as a fortlike home built for the Guru and his family and ended up being a fortress with a Gurdwara in its interior. The fort was built in record time with the Raja’s men aiding the Guru’s Sikhs. Some have suggested that the builders were filled with extra energy as they wanted to finish the Guru’s new home before his approaching birthday. At the time the forests that surrounded the site abounded in wildlife of every kind. Here the beloved Guru was able to escape the intrigue, envy and down right hostility of the Rajas of the Kingdoms around Chakk Nanaki, the city his father Guru Tegh Bahadur had founded (the same city that grew to become Anandpur Sahib).
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