As all the religious leaders at the forefront of the kar sewa (volunteer service for a religious cause) constructed castle-like gurdwaras at historical sites of Sikh Gurus without giving a thought to preserving the last signs of the Sikh heritage, he too could have done the same, but Dr Gurnam Singh, MD, now a religious leader, spearheading kar sewa of gurdwaras, refused to do so and chose to preserve the signs of heritage at Gurdwara Atari Sahib in Daroli Bhai village of Moga district.
The gurdwara has been constructed at the site where the house of sixth Guru Hargobind Sahib was situated.
Bibi Veero, sister of sixth Guru’s wife, and her husband Sain Dass, lived in the village and got constructed a house for themselves, but they wished that Guru Hargobind Sahib should live in that house, and they built another house for themselves.
According to history, Guru Hargobind Singh lived in that house for a few years and, later, the house was preserved by Sain Dass and his family in memory of the Guru.
The house was preserved as heritage site for years by generations of the Sain Dass family. However, in the fifties, the house showed signs of crumbling. The villagers and the then owner of the house Baldev Singh approached kar sewa volunteer Dr Gurnam Singh to take over it and preserve it as a heritage site.
Both the houses (the house where Guru Hargobind Singh lived and Sain Dass’ house) were owned by Baldev Singh and he only handed over a part of the Guru’s house to preserve. However, after his death, the entire house of Guruji was handed over to Dr Gurnam Singh.
Dr Gurnam Singh took steps to preserve the walls as they stood on the site.
However, the house, belonging to Sain Das, was not handed over to Dr Gurnam Singh for preservation. Dr Gurnam Singh even offered five-time more price that the collector’s rate, but the owners refused to sell it. They then demolished the old hose and built a new house at the site.
“Alas! I failed to get that house which could have been preserved well as it was in a good condition,” said Dr Gurnam Singh, adding that later he came to know that the house could have been saved by moving the court, but it was too late.
“The Guru’s house is made of Nanakshahi bricks (shorter in size than those of modern era bricks), ‘choona’ and mud soil. The architect suggested that cement should not be used on the walls as they won’t be able to support it and we preserved them in the gurdwara they were,” he added.
Dr Gurnam said some kar sewa leaders had suggested him to demolish the remaining signs of Guru’s house and construct a big gurdwara at the site, but he did not agree to their suggestions.