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Travel

Virasat-e-Khalsa Arouses Reverence & Awe

by RAJNI SHALEEN CHOPRA

 

 

 

Virasat-e-Khalsa, the new museum of Sikh history at Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, is increasingly arousing reverence and awe with the thousands who visit it daily.

The museum celebrates 500 years of Sikh heritage and chronicles the events around the birth and growth of Sikhism. The symbolic representation of the Ten Sikh Gurus has elevated the museum in the eyes of the tourists here who come visiting from around the world, as well as from across this land.

The museum, which was thrown open to the public in November last year, is open from 8 am to 8 pm. Around 8,000 tourists daily visit this complex spread over 65 acres.

A large number of visitors are seen entering the Khalsa Heritage Complex barefoot and with covered heads. Though musuem authorities gently tell tourists that they don’t have to enter barefoot, but devotion takes precedence over any such advisory.

Chief Executive Officer of Anandpur Sahib Foundation, Dr Karamjit Singh, said: “A guard near the pass windows suggested that we should have carpets on the walkway, leading from the parking area to the museum building. He said the days are getting hot and visitors face trouble walking barefoot. When I told him to request people to keep their shoes on, he said a large percentage of visitors leave their footwear in their vehicles before they reach the pass windows.”

Tejinder Singh, a senior official at the Complex, has often witnessed visitors entering the museum as if they are going into a gurdwara - heads bowed and with folded hands. “At the ‘Ik Oankar Gallery’, visitors often bow in worship. And at the display of the thick black iron plate outside, which symbolises the martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur, they kneel and touch their forehead to the ground. For them, it is not just a museum. It is the tale of their Gurus brought alive before them,” he said.

The mood here is not all seriousness though.

At Punj Paani - the first gallery which plays the eight-minute track of Jasbir Singh Jassi singing Challa, the quintessential Punjabi folksong - tourists often break into impromptu bhangra. Of the 25 multi-media galleries planned here, 15 have been made in the first phase of the project.

The Complex also boasts an expansive water body where visitors often throw coins. About a month ago, the management drained the water from the pond to release fresh water. The coins collected added up to around Rs 6,000.

Moreover, there is no entry fee for the Virasat-e-Khalsa. The museum does not have a concrete revenue generation plan yet and is financed by the state government.

A number of Sikh visitors who have visited the place have suggested that a donation box should be kept for visitors, since many of them want to contribute to the upkeep of the monument.

 

[Courtesy: Indian Express]

March 30, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Sandeep Singh Brar (Canada), March 30, 2012, 11:48 AM.

I noticed this odd behaviour among Indian Sikhs when I first visited Punjab. They would mattha tek trees, nishaan sahibs, statues, paintings, weapons, buildings, etc. Only thing I mattha tek to is our Guru - Guru Granth Sahib.

2: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), March 30, 2012, 7:40 PM.

Virasat-e-Khalsa was designed by an Israeli Architect and could have been twice as large or even more, if he was reminded that on some days of the year hundreds of thousands of Sikhs visit Anandpur Sahib and there is no room to move near the actual birth place of the Khalsa.

3: Pritam Singh Grewal (Canada), March 30, 2012, 9:53 PM.

Spontaneous awe and reverence inspired by a visit to "Virast-e-Khalsa" is not surprising. But as suggested by some tourists, these emotions should be primarily reserved as devotion to the Gurus and their pious memory.

4: Jaswinder Singh (Brier, Washington, U.S.A.), April 03, 2012, 12:02 AM.

I was in Punjab about a week ago and saw Virasat-e-Khalsa. As we went in, it was very humid inside, the airconditioning wasn't working. Jassie's Challa started playing, some of the images are from 21st century, not from 15th or 16th as it should been. It felt more like Virasat-r-Punjab than Virasat-e-Khalsa for the first 15 minutes of the tour, after that there is very basic and brief information about the Ten Gurus and creation of the Khalsa. Audio/written history is at a third grade level. It's a nice design of the building but there is not much substance inside.

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