Bhathinda (also spelt as Bhatinda and Batinda) (30° 14’N, 74° 59’E) is a district and one of the oldest and most famous cities in Punjab state of north-western India. The old town was called Vikramgarh during the pre-Muhammadan period. Tradition ascribes its foundation to Bhati Rao, a Rajput chief who also founded Bhatner, present Hanumangarh, in Rajasthan.
The two towns together commanding the area between Hissar and Bikaner known as Bhatiana, land of the Bhattis, also commanded the Delhi-Multan route used by early Muslim invaders. Batinda’s cotton and agricultural production is well known. It is developing fast and some of the recent developments are a modern thermal power plant, fertilizer factories, and a massive oil refinery. Bhatinda is well linked to other cities and New Delhi by an efficient rail and transport system.
The early Muslim historians refer to Bathinda as TabariHind (lit. axe of India). Its great Fort with 36 bastions and turrets rising up to 118 feet above the ground level of the surrounding country, is said to have been constructed by Raja Vinay Pal. In 1754, the combined forces ofBhai Gurbakhsh Singh of the house of Bhai Bhagatu and Ala Singh, founder of the Patiala family, conquered Bathinda. During the time of Raja Amar Singh of Patiala (174882), who occupied it in 1771, it became part of Patiala state. Maharaja Karam Singh of Patiala (17981845) named the town Gobindgarh after Guru Gobind Singh, though the old name, Bathinda remained in common use.
The city of Bhatinda was graced by Guru Gobind Singh. He halted at the mausoleum of Haji Rattan, a celebrated muslim saint, which was at a distance of two kilometers outside the city. On the site a Gurdwara, called Haji Rattan,stands today in the memory of the Tenth Master. The keeper of the tomb, tried to dissuade the Guru from camping here, on the pretext that it was a haunted place. The Guru disregarding his warning tied his horse to the trunk of ‘van’ tree. People of Bhatinda met him and begged him to evict the one-eyed cruel ogre living in the fort. The merciful Guru, readily acceded to the request and forcibly turned out the giant. Gurdwara Sahib in Bhatinda qila (fort) stands at the place where according to tradition the Guru combated the ogre and sent him into flight.
It was in this fort that – first woman ruler of India, Empress Razia Sultana, was imprisoned before being executed. Today Bhatinda is a leading market of food grains and cotton, and – the newly commissioned Guru Nanak Thermal Power Plant, dominates the horizon. Gurdwara Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo is only 35 km south of Bhatinda. The pilgrims come by train to Bhatinda and then proceed to Talwandi Sabo by road.
According to Bhai Santokh Singh, Sri Gur Pratap Suraj Granth, Guru Gobind Singh, during his stay at Talvandi Sabo visited Bathinda in 1706 to survey the strategic importance of the Fort. He was told that the Fort had long been deserted, for a demon resided there. The Guru entered the Fort with his Sikhs and the legend has since prevailed that he exiled the demon. Two shrines were established later on inside the Fort where Guru Gobind Singh had put up, and the other outside it where the Sikhs were encamped.
GURDWARA SAHIB PATSHAHl 10, QILA MUBARAK, inside the Fort, a 5metre square domed sanctum, was constructed by Maharaja Karam Singh of Patiala. Its interior is decorated with intricate designs in stucco, paint and inset work.
GURDWARA GOBIND NAGAR PATSHAHl 10, in the Haji Ratan locality adjacent to the Muslim shrine of Haji Ratan, was reconstructed during the 1970*s. The main building is a mosaicfloored hall, with a square marbled sanctum marked off by arches in pipaMeaf design topped by multicoloured friezes. Above the sanctum are two storeys of square pavilions with a lotus dome on top. Both these Gurdwaras are managed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee through a local committee. Recitation and kirtan of gurbani takes place morning and evening and all major Sikh anniversaries are marked by special divans.