US-based Sikh body starts restoration of Gurdwara Choa Sahib in Pakistan
A Sikh organisation based in America has adopted 19th century Gurdwara Choa Sahib in Jhelum district of Pakistan’s Punjab province for its restoration. The organisation — Ranjit Nagara — began the restoration work in August this year.
The Pakistan government reopened the abandoned gurdwara and the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) had unveiled a plan to reopen the gurdwara after restoration.
Satpreet Singh, director of Ranjit Nagara, said they wrote to the ETPB in December 2019, seeking permission to carry forward the restoration work at the gurdwara and the approval was given in August this year.
“We have hired experts, including Amrik Pahala who worked in UAE and had restored more than 40 sites. He has a team of 70 engineers and they are voluntarily supporting us. Another Architect Rubab Farha Chisti and her team are also on the preservation job,” said Satpreet Singh, who is a businessman in California.
He said they expect the restoration work to be complete by August next year.
Was closed since the Partition
Built in 1834 under the command of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Gurdwara Choa Sahib was lying closed since the Partition. Located on the northern edge of Rohtas Fort — a UNESCO world heritage site — near Jhelum, it fell prey to neglect. The gurdwara commemorates the site where Guru Nanak is believed to have created a water spring during one of his (udasi) journeys. A water spring is called “choa” and the place was named Choa Sahib. Even today, residents of the Rohtas Fort use the water of the same spring.
In 2019, 500-year-old Babe-de-Ber gurdwara in Sialkot in Pakistan’s Punjab province also opened its doors for pilgrims.