A visit to Panja Sahib (Hasan Abdal)

Gurudwara Panja Sahib is situated at Hasan Abdal, 48 km from Rawalpindi to the west side of the mountain. It is hilly area. A few places have natural fountains .It is one of the most important holy place for sikh community in Pakistan. Here a rock is present, which is believed to have hand prints of Guru Nanak. Twice a year, during special celebrations, an enormous number of Sikh pilgrims attend this Gurdwara from every corner of the world. Special visas are allocated by the Pakistan government to cater for the increased demand.
Me and my family decided to have a visit to Panja Sahib. When we reach there at the gate of the shrine. It was 7am. We were told that inside in the shrine is going prayer and that we should come after an hour. Right 8.am we were allowed to enter the shrine. A guide was accompanying us. He was describing us with the details and about the story of Panja sahib. Special permission is required to have photography inside the shrine from the management.

Derivation of the word Panja: The word "Panja" in Punjabi means an "outstretched palm" from the word "panj" which means "five.

Guru Nanak

Story of Panja Sahib: Between the year 1510 and 1520 Guru Nanak is said to have travelled to the Arab lands visiting, among other places, Mecca and Baghdad. On the way back from his journey abroad Guru Nanak passed through Kabul and Peshawar and then, after crossing the Indus, stopped at a small village at the foot of a steep hill, short of the Margallas, where Hasan Abdal is located today.
While on the other hand at the top of the hill behind the Guru’s small village, there lived a ‘pir’ (a Muslim ’saint’ of sorts). He was called Baba Wali Kandhari. His last name referred to his origins in Kandhar, Afghanistan. Baba Wali Kandhari could see every thing happening below in the village from the top of the hill. Baba Kandhari also had the advantage of having a spring of fresh water nearby. The spring was also the only source of water for the people down below.

Both Muslims and Hindus of the village were attracted towards the teaching of Guru Nanak thus started flocking to Guru Nanak. Baba Kandhari saw that many more people were flocking to Guru Nanak than were visiting him. He felt a little resentment towards the Guru. He couldn’t stop the flow of people towards the Guru. As a result he stopped the flow of water to the village below. Naturally it upset all the people below in village.
When Guru Nanak heard this he asked his lifelong disciple and companion, Bhai Mardana (a Muslim), to go to Baba Kandhari and plead with him to allow the flow of water toward the villagers. According to legend, Bhai Mardana was sent three times to Wali Qandhari by
(Guru Nanak) so that he would provide him
with water. Wali Qandhari refused his request and was rude to him. In spite of this, Mardana still very politely stuck to his demand.
The Wali ironically remarked: "Why don't you ask your Master whom you serve?" Mardana went back to the Guru in a miserable state and said "Oh lord ! I prefer death to thirst but will not approach Wali the egoist again."
People becomes desperate and turned to Guru Nanak asking what to do? According to the story, Guru Nanak told them not to despair and trust God and then, pointing to a large stone, asked them to move it from the spot where it was embedded in the ground. When they pushed the stone aside fresh water gushed forth from the ground, enough for the needs of the small village and some more!

On the other hand, the fountain of Wali Qandhari dried up. On witnessing this, the Wali in his rage threw a part of a mountain towards the Guru from the top of the hill. He thought, it would surely crush the Guru and the people around him.
But the Guru stopped the hurled rock with his hand leaving his hand print in the rock. The Guru’s open hand got imprinted on the rock as if pressed into wax

Observing that miracle, Wali became the Guru's devotee.
The rock with the hand imprint is embedded today in the concrete structure of the Panja Sahib building complex. Clear, fresh spring water gushes out from somewhere behind the rock and spills over into a very large pool. There are abundance of fishes in this pool. A deep imprint of a

right hand is clearly visible on the rock underneath the thin sheet of water flowing over it.

Hand prints of Guru Nanak

Next to the pool, on an elevated platform, stands a beautiful large gurdwara built in the Mughal style by Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839). The gurdwara houses the Guru Granth Sahib - the holy book of Sikhs. A large double storied hostel for the yatrees or pilgrims surrounds the courtyard, the pool and the gurdwara.

Pool inside the shrine.

Beautiful Lights hanging inside the ceiling ofGurdwara

From the courtyard of the shrine one can easily see the hilltop where Baba Wali Kandhari camped and from where he is supposed have rolled the rock. A modern communication tower sprouts from the place now. The hilltop has also become a shrine named after Baba Kandhari and attracts many devotees from the surrounding area. Even Sikhs pilgrims to Panja Sahib trek up the hill, a distance of over one mile, to visit the shrine.
At the back of shrine there is (Langar Khana) , a big kitchen with lots of utencils and staff to prepare food for the staff of shrine and also to the guests who visit the shrine both in particular days as well as regular.

Langar Khana in the Shrine.


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