Gurudwara Bari Sangat Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur-Varanasi
Gurdwara Bari Sangat Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur – The Gurdwara in Nichi Bagh area is the oldest and most important sangat at Benaras judging from old hukamnamas and other relics possessed by it. At the time of Guru Tegh Bahdur’s visit, the Sangat was headed by Bhai Jawehri lal, the masand. The Guru stayed in a house belonging to Bhai Kalyan Mal. It is the site of this house which is occupied by the Gurdwara Bari Sangat now. Its present three-storey building, which replaced the one constructed by Maharaja Narinder Singh of Patiala in 1854, was constructed during the 1950s. The sanctum is at one end of a spacious high-ceilinged, rectangular hall on the ground floor. All around the interior of the hall is a wide gallery and a number of cupboards for use by pilgrims. Within the congregation hall there are two more shrines – a small room called Tap Asthan represents the closet where Guru Tegh Bahadur sat in solitary meditation, and a narrow well called Baoli Ganga Pargat (lit. well making the Ganges manifest). There is a popular legend related to the latter. It is said that one morning as Guru Tegh Bahadur was meditating in the Tap Asthan, Bhai Kalyan Mal invited him to a dip in the holy Ganges. The Guru remarked, God’s Name is the holiest of all. Rather than a worshipper of God go seeking holiness in the waters of Ganges, the Ganges would come to be blessed by the bhakias touch. Seeing Kalyan Mal puzzled by his utterance, the Guru asked him to lift a nearby stone. As soon as Kalyan Mal did so, a spring of river-water appeared. This spring is the present Baoli Ganga Pargat. Two very old pairs of shoes, one once worn by Guru Tegh bahadur and the other by the young Sahibzada Gobind Das, and a chola (long, loose gown) once used by Guru Tegh Bahadur are displayed in glass cupboards. The hukamnamas, seventeen in number are kept separately in the office of the committee that manages this Gurdwara.