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The Open Temple of Makindu

by DAUTI KAHURA

 

In the dusty plains of Makindu, a rural outpost along Nairobi-Mombasa highway in East Africa, stands a landmark that has shaped the history of an otherwise forlorn and obscure settlement.

Located about 170 km from Nairobi, the Makindu Sikh Temple is a conflation of historical and religious events that date back 100 years.

And it is because of the temple that many know Makindu as a pilgrims' sojourn.

The temple's tall flag-mast (Nishaan Sahib), a trademark for all Sikh temples worldwide, stands out from afar. Draped in yellow cloth, the 151 ft. mast can be spotted by motorists on the highway from a distance.

The Makindu Gurdwara is revered by Sikhs the world over. There is a mystical ambience about it. About 10 granthis, sporting white kaftans, run the gurdwara. They move in rhythmic motion and maintain a studious silence only broken when they are consulting workers, who are about 60.

The presence of two peacocks parading their majestic feathers adds a mystical denouement to the Gurdwara. Each of the granthis carries a kirpan, the Sikh article of faith - which is worn by all Sikhs who follow the full discipline of the faith.

Bhai Manmohan Singh, 65, is the longest-serving granthi at the temple, having arrived there in 1974.

"Makindu holds a special place ... Sikhs from all over the world come here," says Manmohan Singh.

When we visited the gurdwara one Saturday, Boaz Oyoyo, 60, welcomed us.

Oyoyo is from Vihiga District and has worked in the gurdwara since 1979. Over time, he acquired the name Black Kalasinga (the black Sikh). He spots a white turban and keeps a greying beard.

"When I first came to work at the temple, all these buildings were not there. We used to eat there (points at a Malindi palm tree) because that is where the kitchen was. Today, the dining hall and the kitchen have capacity for more than 100 people a sitting," he explains.

He speaks Punjabi fluently and can recite Sikh prayers like a master. Yet, it is his mastery of Kikamba and Sikh culture that has set him aside.

"The Kalasingas (Kiswahili for Sikhs) have been good to me. In the many years I have worked with them, we have forged a lasting friendship and a deeper understanding of each other," he says.

Although his long stay in Makindu has made him sort of a celebrity in the area, he still travels to his rural home in Vihiga.

He is currently overseeing the construction of a prayer hall, which will be spruced up by a water fountain. Also under construction are cottages for invalids and old pilgrims. A one-stop lift to ferry the pilgrims to the upper shrine will also be built.

From a makeshift structure that was the gurdwara in the early years of its existence, it now has more than 200 hotel-class rooms that host guests for free.

And one does not have to be an adherent of Sikhism to stay at the gurdwara. From local and foreign tourists to children on a school trip, all are welcome.

"The Sikhs encourage travellers to stop by to relax, eat and enjoy the serenity and if they are too tired, they can sleep the night over," says Oyoyo.

The Gurdwara can host up to 4,000 people. "When we have such a large number, it is the very old and children who sleep in the rooms. Others sleep in their cars or pitch tent in the compound," he says.

Augustino Mwange, the chief chef, has worked at the gurdwara for the past 10 years and has become a Sikh cuisine expert. "There are travellers who stop by at midnight, and when they come to the dining hall, they will always find something hot," says Mwange, who hails from Machakos.

"I've been coming here since I was five," says Tony Kosgey, 36.

When I met Kosgey who was on his way to Taita Hills, he was accompanied by his nine-year-old son. "It is a tradition that runs through my family and I want my son also to experience and keep it."

Amin Premji, 52, has also kept the tradition. "The philosophy of The Makindu Temple is that all races come together to experience the sanctity of humanity in a holy sanctuary. Over time, that is what I have learnt from my coming here".

The gurdwara runs purely on donations from well-wishers, mostly local businessmen.

Billay Singh Kalsi, 59, travelled from Leicester, UK, to visit the gurdwara. "We came purposely to Kenya to visit the gurdwara," said Billay Singh, who was accompanied by wife and daughter.

Yet others come to the gurdwara for thanksgiving after a milestone in their life.

For instance, Harjeet Singh Manku is at the gurdwara because his daughter's wedding has been a success. "When I arrive at Makindu, I experience sublime peace and calmness," he says.

Vic Tyson, a tourist from Vancouver, Canada, says a visit to Kenya would be incomplete without stopping by the gurdwara.

Across the road, the management has put up a hospital to serve locals. "The hospital charges Sh 50 for any treatment, but we have never chased anybody away due to lack of money," says Dr David Kimani, an ophthalmologist at the hospital.

Among personalities who would never miss a chance to visit the gurdwara was Kenya's founding President Jomo Kenyatta, says Makindu Temple Committee Chairman, Mohinder Singh Vohra

 

[Courtesy: The Standard]

August 26, 2009

Conversation about this article

1: Irvinderpal Singh Babra (Brantford, Ontario, Canada), August 27, 2009, 11:31 PM.

Thanks, sikhchic.com, for this fresh article by Dauti Kahura on Makindu Gurdwara. It's the pride of Sikhs not only in Kenya but also in the whole of Africa. It was established in 1926 at Makindu Station in the District of Machakos by a handful of brave Sikhs working on the Kenya-Uganda railway line. And since then, so many diverse communities, like Gujratis, Hindus, Punjabis, Muslims, Christians, many of Kenya's different tribal members, from the majority Kikuyu to Luo to Abuluhya and others that remain as the warriors, workers and custodians, come here. In the past, many of them were fatally attacked by the man-eating lions of Tsavo jungle who had taken a liking to human flesh and blood. Others perished by the tropical diseases. But the marshall Sikh spirit co-existed, prevailed and grew here so supremely at this obscure African, dangerous inland that it continues to provide shelter and service to all. It's logo is "Shub karman te kabhon naan taron" and, together with the "Khanda", serves at the gateway to the gurdwara for all. It was built by the master craftman Hari Singh Bansal who had also built many other edifices. The first gurdwara in Africa was built within a few weeks at Kilindni Port near Mombasa in 1898 by the first Sikhs who had arrived from India in a shipload. By 1985, 101 "Akhand Paatths" were performed under the committee of Kuldip Singh Dhami. Makindu has grown well now and the gurdwara committee which is headed today by Mohinder Singh Vohra, a wealthy hotelier in Nairobi, have plans to further develop it into a greater multi-racial Sikh religious centre in Africa. Sikhs in Canada, U.S.A., U.K. and elsewhere are strongly urged to donate and contribute vigorously for its Chardi Kala in Africa.

2: Amarjit Singh Chadda (San Jose, California, U.S.A.), August 31, 2009, 2:57 PM.

I was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and visited Makindu Gurdwara many times with my family, when I still lived in Kenya. I last visited Kenya after a quarter of century in 2004, and of course, made a special trip to Makindu Gurdwara; took lot of pictures. I found the gurdwara has expanded quite a bit.

3: Manjit Kaur (Maryland, U.S.A.), September 02, 2009, 6:04 PM.

I too grew up in Nairobi and have lots memories travelling to Makindu for gurpurabs and enjoying doing seva. I believe it is still the most serene place in Nairobi.

4: Paul Singh Ahdan (Granite Bay, California, U.S.A.), September 04, 2009, 9:54 PM.

Wow - That sure brought back memories of my younger days in Kenya. At that time, visits to gurdwaras did not mean much to me except as just a family outing. I was brought up between Thika and Ruiru at a place called Juja, and went to school in Thika. Often, during our holidays, we would go to Mombasa and stayed at the Kilindini (Mombasa) Gurdwara. Many times, we would stay there when going to India or coming back home from India. Am not sure if many would remember this but in those days, the 1950's, there used to be a lot of mango trees in the Mombasa Gurdwara's compound. At night, we would sleep under the mango trees and the monkeys would jump from tree to tree, and in the process, would drop huge pineapple-size mangoes, often hitting the people below. Those were the good days! Later on in the late 1960's, my wife and I returned from England to Nairobi, Kenya for a couple of years, and often took trips to the coast and all over East Africa. We would stop at Makindu and Mombasa Gurdwaras as well as gurdwaras all over East Africa, for langar or a cup of tea whenever possible. By then, it had a totally different meaning to me just to stop there for a few minutes. I have wonderful memories of our time in Kenya, the country and its people. I have traveled all over the world, both on business and pleasure and have tried to visit gurdwaras wherever it has been possible. I am proud to be a Kenyan Sikh.

5: Subramanyam Chandra (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), September 09, 2009, 8:16 AM.

The gurdwara at Makindu has been a great place to visit and rest on the way to Mombasa. As I worked for a pharmaceutical company (Cosmos Ltd.), we donated a lot of medicines to the gurdwara's hospital when it was started in 1999. In fact, I was a makeshift pharmacist and arranged the drugs in the pharmacy on the day of its inauguration.

6: Didar Singh Mankoo (Brisbane, Australia.), September 11, 2009, 12:03 AM.

I was born in Nairobi in 1949 and rememeber very vividly our trips to Makindu Gurdwara in the early 1950s. In those days the gurdwara was very very basic. The main gurdwara stood on a concrete slab and the property had a fence of corrugated iron. No one used to live in the gurdwara and if you wanted to stop and visit (normally on your way to or from Mombasa), you had to go to the main street near the railway station and get the key from (if I remember correctly) an Indian shopkeeper whose name was 'Surinder'. He was a Hindu Punjabi. We would go inside the main darbar where the Guru Granth Sahib was and sweep the floor and then do our ardaas and take the hukamnama. Then, my mum would make breakfast on a Primus stove. Afterwards, we would clean everything, lock up and hand the key back to Surinder and be on our way. During some weekends, our uncle S. Ajit Singh Mankoo (also known as from the "Nipper" family), together with the famous raagis from Nairobi, Bhai Jagjit Singh, Bhai Tara Singh, Bhai Gursaran Singh Bhai Rajinder Singh, all with their families and more friends would go to Makindu Gurdwara and have Rehan Sabhai kirtan for the whole of the weekend. It was during the fifties and the early sixties that the gurdwara started to take on greater signifiance. Kericho walay Babaji, Sardar Puran Singh ji, had a lot to do with the way the gurdwara is seen today. It was his blessings and the work and the dedication of the humble Sikhs of Kenya that has now made Makindu Gurdwara a worldwide symbol amongst the Sikhs and others. As someone mentioned in his/her comments that the first batch of Sikhs arrived in Mombasa in or about 1895/1898. My grandfather was in that very first batch. His name was S. Nihal Singh Mankoo, whose sons later became known as the Nipper Family. Makindu is one of a kind in this world, and those memories are absolutely awesome.

7: Shashi Dave (U.S.A.), September 13, 2009, 10:20 AM.

I used to travel often to Nairobi and back to Mombasa and this article and pictures bring back fond memories of the Makindu Gurdwara. I am blessed that someone sent me a link to this site.

8: Manjit Mankoo (Brampton, Canada), September 13, 2009, 10:11 PM.

Makindu Gurdwara brings memories of my childhood visits to the holy shrine. I remember going there with my grandmother, Sardarni Karam Kaur Gabria, and my mother, Sardarni Jagjit Kaur Mankoo, as they were both involved in doing paatth duties when the akhand paatths were held there. These were always weekend trips and what enjoyment we used to have. I particularly remember going to the tiny shops that were situated just a few minutes away from the main gurdwara to drink ice-cold coca-cola. It was also an uninterrupted play session at the gurdwara and a lot of fresh hot food. No matter what time we arrived at the gurdwara, there was always hot food (langar) available. I haven't been back to Kenya since my arrival in Canada. I would love to someday go back to visit the now extensive grounds of this holy place. There are too many good memories from there to write about at this time but yes, I would like to say that if and when anyone who is spiritually inclined, should definitely visit this one of a kind holy shrine.

9: Gurmel Singh Syan (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), September 14, 2009, 9:51 AM.

Beautiful article. Made me home sick. I always stopped at the gurdwara going to Mombasa and on the way back, What a serene, peaceful place!

10: Aryan (London (U.K.) & Nairobi (Kenya)), September 14, 2009, 11:55 AM.

Thanks for this fantastic article. I love the Makindu Gurdwara and whenever I go back home from London, I always go there. My country, Kenya, is indeed very beautiful with so many beautiful temples there.

11: Rabinder Panesar (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), September 15, 2009, 9:28 AM.

I have to agree with much of what has been written about this holy place. I remember my trips to the Gurdwara during the school holidays in Nairobi and it was always the highlight of excitement for myself and my brother. Even though I was quite young, I still recall how everyone came together regardless of race and creed. The gurdwara truly brought out the best in everyone and it is something that the rest of the world could learn from. It's nice to see how far along the gurdwara has come.

12: Pravin Patel (Ottawa, Canada), September 16, 2009, 12:08 PM.

Reminds me of my frequent trips from Nairobi to Mombasa and a stop over at the Gurdwara. The langar was great and we could freshen up. I am very happy that the Sikh community has kept up the good work and improved the facilities. God bless them ... and keep up the good work.

13: Tahir Ahmad (Canada), September 16, 2009, 7:43 PM.

Every time my friends and I travelled to Mombasa, we made it a point to stop at the Makindu Gurdwara not only for the amazing langar, but also to pay our deepest respects to Baba Guru Nanak Sahib ji and all the granthis. Inspite of being a Muslim, I strongly believe and feel that all religions have the same base and beliefs and it is so sad that we have to fight over whether one religion is superior than the other. It would be so great if we could respect each other's religion and live in peace and harmony together. Thank you and keep up the excellent work in Makindu. I am looking forward to paying a visit there again sometime soon.

14: Tarlochan Rajbans (London, England), September 17, 2009, 6:26 AM.

Reading the article by Dauti Kahura, I must agree that although the Gurdwara is a shrine for Sikhs, it does not stop other faiths to experience the wonderful ambience and hospitality provided by its staff. I myself was born in Tfalls and used to travel to the gurdwara with my family where we held Akhand paatths when I was a young lad and my memories of the gurdwara as mentioned are of 'kalasinghas' in the dining room / kitchen making garam garam paronthas in the morning and phulkas thereafter, and no matter what time of the night, langar was available to all. The gyanis were given the upmost respect by old and young alike. Although the gurdwara has now changed - the last time we visited was in 1974 - I am sure, looking at the pictures, it still is as majestic as I last saw it, and hopefully I will visit it so that my children can experience what has been written above, and cherish those memories just like I do. Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh.

15: Chander Gandhi (London, U.K.), September 17, 2009, 1:18 PM.

This article has indeed brought back the memories of our "Golden Days" in Kenya and all the trips that we made to Makindu to pay our homage at the gurdwara. It is certainly a place of great serenity and by just being there one feels that one is in heaven. I cannot forget the nights we spent at the gurdwara on our way to Mombasa or Tsavo. I was in Kenya a few months ago and made it a point to visit the Makindu Gurdwara. It is indeed a pride of the Asian community all over the world and reminds us all of the sacrifices made by our parents and forefathers and the sense of unity that the gurdwara upholds. It proves that the world is a very small place and there is still place for racial harmony all over. Our hats off to all the committee members, sevadars and workers, volunteers and respected granthis at the Makindu Gurdwara. Keep up the great and humantarian work so that our future generations make sure they visit the gurdwara whenever they get the opportunity.

16: Shally Lochab (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada), September 19, 2009, 12:31 PM.

Makindu is the best ... it has always had a special place in our heart. I commend all those behind it and also would like to let everyone know of the new facility (hall)coming up now at the gurdwara. My father, Tejpal Lochab, also past Chairman, still puts a lot of his time for this institution and I am proud of him. I wish everyone involved behind this gurdwara my best wishes.

17: Bharat Shavdia (England), September 20, 2009, 7:04 AM.

This gurdwara at Makindu can be compared to an oasis in a desert, a place where a weary traveller could have rest and pray for a safe journey. God bless those who built this wonderful institution and especially all those who run it. May it continue for a long, long time.

18: Nilesh Parekh (London, England), September 20, 2009, 8:30 AM.

I was born in Kenya and during our school holidays we all used to go to Mombasa by car and always looked forward to stopping at Makindu. I remember stopping and getting off at Makindu and suddenly you felt a different person as the air, the atmosphere, the people at the gurdwara and the food just made you relaxed. We would stay for a while and carry on with journey. I used to take it for granted that we would stop at Makindu but now reading the article has brougt back excellent memories. It's been a long time since I have returned. Hope to take my family soon for them to see and experience the special feeling you get at Makindu.

19: Chetan Burman (New Delhi, India), September 22, 2009, 7:52 AM.

Just reading this article made me homesick for the beauty of the Makindu Gurdwara. God blessed me with two stints in Kenya, the first as a child when I was 11. 30 years later, I was blessed to be able to take my family back to my "other home" and took many trips via Makindu Gurdwara. I am not alone in the special experience a visit to the Gurdwara gives to the visitor. It is my belief the blessings one gets at Makindu Gurdwara change one's fate resulting that we keep going back again and again. The feeling never ends and I wish fervently that I will get a call to come back "home" again to pay my homage to WaheGuru who has made this an oasis of peace and tranquility and a 'jungle mein mangal'.

20: Sakina (Kenya), September 23, 2009, 1:46 AM.

In spite of not being a Sikh, a stop at the Makindu Gurdwara is a must for us. We live in Mombasa and whenever we travel to/from Nairobi, we usually time ourselves in such a way that we save time to stop at the gurdwara for a meal and to relax. We have even stayed at the rooms one time when I was expecting and could not travel all the way to Nairobi in one go. The gurdwara offers a welcoming atmosphere, delicious meals, comfortable accommodation and serenity. Thanks to the gurdwara, our trips to/from Nairobi are always relaxing!

21: Gurmail Singh Matharu (Milton, Ontario, Canada), September 23, 2009, 12:02 PM.

Blessed to see the gurdwara. I would like to see some more pictures if anybody has any. It is nice to have the gurdwara at this place.

22: Dr. Jagdish Kothary (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), September 23, 2009, 5:53 PM.

How true ... even after 47 years here in Canada, my wife & I NEVER miss a stop at Makindu whenever we are back there! To find true inner peace, a visit is a must.

23: Bhanji Family (Kisumu, Kenya), September 24, 2009, 2:02 AM.

The Makindu Gurdwara has always had a special place in our hearts. A trip to Mombasa without a stop there was like not having visited the coast at all. In fact, it's because of this place that that my husband's favourite food is their black langar daal (Uraddaal). Nobody can make it as tasty as it is there. God bless you all who run the show and even those who assist running it from behind the scenes ...!

24: Parvin Padham  (Birminghm, U.K.), September 25, 2009, 12:52 AM.

I lived near Sri Gurdwara Bazaar, Juja Road, Nairobi. If anyone has photos of the Juju Road Gurdwara or any other Nairobi gurdwara, I would love to see them.

25: Gurinder Ghataura (Tiny) (Nairobi, Kenya), September 30, 2009, 8:26 AM.

The road to Mombasa along which the Makindu Gurdwara stands is continuously being up-graded and is now in great shape. Just a few short diversions which, if you own a 4WD, are of no major concern. This, in its initial stages was quite a hindrance to road users and casual visits to Makindu became less frequent. This however will soon be a thing of the past - likely just over the next couple of months! The accommodation in Makindu is no less in comfort than a hotel - especially so in the newer construction. So much so, that a weekend trip to the Gurdwara is more of a holiday getaway, with a spiritual bonus added to the experience.

26: G.P. Singh (India), October 01, 2009, 11:14 AM.

How I wish I had heard about the Gurdwara Sahib in Makindu when I worked for UNDP in Tanzania in 1989! If Waheguru wills it, I shall be in Makindu before I die!

27: Rupinder Kaur  (Reading, U.K., and Kenya ), October 16, 2009, 6:28 AM.

The Makindu Gurdwara is the most holiest place to be. My father used to, and still does I assume, hold Akhand Paatth for the weekend at the end of the summer holidays. Those four days were the best part of the entire year with spirituality surrounding you and the atmosphere being very purifying. I would really love to go there when I get back. Yeah, I think more pictures need to be taken for the gurdwara.

28: Vinde Ghaley (Nairobi, Kenya), October 27, 2009, 6:18 AM.

This is the best place for all and has no comparison to any other place.

29: C. R. Patel (Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.), October 29, 2009, 5:34 PM.

Having lived in Kenya for almost 40 years, every trip between Nairobi and Mombasa meant a must stop for langar at the Makindu gurdwara. A peaceful place.

30: Dushyant Tanna (Leicester, U.K.), November 01, 2009, 6:27 PM.

It has been over 35 years since I visited the Makindu gurdwara as a child, but today talking about it with Billay Singh Kalsi - who is mentioned in the article - brought back the memories of this wonderful gurdwara where a stop was a must when travelling from Nairobi to Mombasa and back. Even though I was just a child at the time, I cannot forget the peaceful environment of the gurdwara, followed by the most delicious langar awaiting you after prayer and a much needed cold glass of water. It certainly is an oasis in the desert. God willing, I hope to visit it once again.

31: Husseinali Hirji (Canada), November 04, 2009, 10:07 AM.

Ah! The Gurdwara in Makindu rings back great memories. As teenagers hitchhiking between Nairobi, Mombasa and Malindi, we always made it a point to stop in Makindu and also spent a night there once. The serenity of the area is palpable and there is a crispness in the morning air that is only native to the gurdwara in Makindu; a place of real peace. A big thanks and prayers for the continued prosperity of the Makindu Gurdwara.

32: Naju Meghji (Ajax, Ontario, Canada), November 21, 2009, 7:48 PM.

The Makindu Gurdwara holds special memories for my family and I. It was always a place to stop on our way to Mombasa and on the return to Nairobi. Funnily enough, it was the one place that I had to go very often during my pregnancy to satisfy the cravings that I would get and that could only be satisfied after a visit to Makindu. Our last visit there was in 2005 and the peace and the serenity that I felt came rushing back! My prayers and good wishes to all those who work hard to make Makindu what it is.

33: Ameer Janmohamed (London, United Kingdom), November 25, 2009, 8:13 AM.

Reading this article brought back lovely memories of the 1960s. I used to travel frequently by car between Mombasa and Nairobi and a stopover at the Gurdwara in Makindu was a must. Buildings were modest but the welcome, the food and the cleanliness were amazing. Even in the 1960s, there was at least one Black Kala Singha who was totally part of the gurdwara. The Sikh community can justly be proud of the Makindu Gurdwara and the message it conveys to the world.

34: Jitu Sonigra (Nairobi, Kenya), December 07, 2009, 12:20 AM.

Beautiful, holy and most relaxing place I've ever been to. Pray and all your wishes will come true.

35: Didar Mankoo (Brisbane, U.K.), December 10, 2009, 5:02 AM.

This refers to note # 32. Please forgive me as this may not be the correct forum for my question but the person in post 32 - Naju Meghji. You are not by any chance the same Naju Meghji who lived on Norman Road in Nairobi, are you? In the early 1960s, by any chance?

36: Tajinder Kaur Sehmi (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), December 16, 2009, 10:17 AM.

This refers to No. 35: Didar Mankoo - Are you the Didar Mankoo who used to live at Juja Road, and was your father the Mankoo of Nipper's Garage; was your mother's name Mohinder Kaur, daughter of Ragi Sundar Singh of Nairobi, Kenya? Her only sister's name was Gajinder Kaur. I am her daughter, Tajinder Kaur, and am wondering if you are indeed my cousin?! Long Lost. Do you have a sister called Nindi or Narinder, both living in the U.K.?

37: Baljinder (United Kingdom), December 22, 2009, 10:00 AM.

Hello, Didar Singh Mankoo - are you the same Didar Singh Mankoo who was featured in the BBC Diwali short documentary last year?

38: Gurpreet Sahota (London, U.K.), December 23, 2009, 10:17 AM.

Born and raised in Kenya, we emigrated to the U.K. approx. 13 years, ago. The Makindu Gurdwara has always stayed in my heart ... Having been on different yatras in Punjab and India, I can honestly say that the storm in my soul has only ever been calmed in two places: The Golden Temple in Amritsar and the Makindu Gurdwara. Does anyone have the full history of the Makindu Gurdwara? It is said that some Sikhs involved in building the railways in Kenya had the Guru Granth with them, but when they moved on, they left the Guru Granth in a small building. Over time this was forgotten. One day a local Kenyan was at a Sikh's house where he saw a picture of Guru Gobind Singh and exclaimed that he used to see a man with a hawk and horse. He took the Sikh to the site of his 'visions', which led them to the Guru Granth Sahib. The legend goes that the Gurdwara marks the spot.

39: Himatlal Shah (London, U.K.), January 13, 2010, 3:41 AM.

A most wonderful place to visit.

40: Kushil (United Kingdom), January 18, 2010, 5:56 PM.

Makindu was a must stop for us whenever we went to Msa. Enjoyed the space and food. But most of all, I remember when our Akamba coach broke down, we were all taken to the Makindu Gurdwara for an overnight stay and it was the very first time I slept under a mosquito net. Can't wait to visit it again, it has been some 20 years or so.

41: Dr Jagir Singh (Sydney, Australia), January 21, 2010, 12:34 AM.

As I read this wonderful description of Makindu Gurdwara, tears well up in my eyes. I was born in Makindu, and named here as well, in 1932!. My dad worked as a railway driver, and would be remembered by many.

42: Milan Mehta (Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.), January 22, 2010, 3:54 AM.

I remember stopping at the Makindu Gurdwara as a child. Fond Memories, great food and great hospitality. God Bless!

43: Shally (Canada), January 22, 2010, 6:21 PM.

I would like to bring to the attention of all that there is a big event taking place at Makindu begining February 2010. The Gurdwara (original building) has been refurbished and is going to be officially opened in a grand opening. Please pass on the word to all who may interested in attending this great event.

44: Hardev Singh Thethy (Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada), January 25, 2010, 12:35 AM.

Makindu Gurdwara stands at a site that is truly blessed and is a testimony to Guru Nanak's message of the brotherhood of Man. A place where divine help is sought and prayers are answered, where thirst and hunger is quenched, the weary body gets rest, and the spirit gets recharged amidst the tranquility and peace of the place. After 20 years, reading the accounts of the dispersed congregation of the many touched by Makindu, there has arisen in me a yearning for its darshan again.

45: Bholan (Serwan) Kaur Bhogal (Glasgow/Edinburgh, United KIngdom), January 28, 2010, 5:54 PM.

I consider myself very fortunate as I have been blessed by my parents (Bhagat Jawala Singh ji and Sardarni Mohinder Kaur Seehra), who belonged to Baba Puran Singh Kericho Vaale's jatha, and we used to go to Makindu Sahib every 4/5 weeks with Ragi Jagjeet Singh and his jatha comprising of ragi brothers and sangat and had the good fortune of attending various programmes at this gurdwara during my childhood. The experience there was indescribable: relaxing spiritually, sanctity and the tranquility. The times were 50's and 60s. Then, there was the only original gurdwara and well. We would first clean and wash the gurdwara and the women would get themselves busy in the kitchen. We would then attend the rehansabhai kirtan and and then spend the rest of the time relaxing and listening to Baba ji's discourses and head back home in the afternoon. God bless this place. Everytime I visit Nairobi, I try to visit Makindu Sahib.

46: Gurmel Kaur Syan (Brampton, Ontario, Canada), February 27, 2010, 3:56 PM.

Makindu Gurdwara - peaceful place, delicious food, excellent spiritual service. Always stopped there when going to Mombasa and on the way back. Love the place.

47: Abhijit  (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), March 14, 2010, 9:57 PM.

As a child, I spent my formative years in Kenya. I remember clearly that once on our way to Mombasa, we had spent a day and a night in Makindu's famous Gurdwara. It was the most out-of-world experience for me then even as a child. I went teary eyed as I read this beautiful article ... and oh yes, I remember the Kala Singhas well. They were so humble and hospitable. Wish I could travel back in time.

48: Didar Singh Mankoo (Brisbane, United Kingdom), May 28, 2010, 6:56 AM.

Re: Notes #36 and 37: Yes, I am the same. Tajinder Palo was telling me about you. And yes, I am the same Didar Singh Mankoo who was portrayed on the BBC programme at Divali last year.

49: Nisha (U.S.A.), February 02, 2011, 10:49 PM.

I was born in Kenya and remember stopping at Makindu when we went on holiday to Mombasa. It was about the only building between Nairobi and Mombasa. Always great hospitality and very clean. The pics bring back some good memories.

50: Randeep Singh Kapoor  (Chandigarh, Punjab), June 15, 2011, 5:08 AM.

I have seen Makindu gurdwara on my way to Mombasa. But unfortunately wasn't able to go in. Next time I'll surely go there.

51: Kanwal Jit Kaur (California, U.S.A.), August 02, 2011, 2:44 PM.

It is good to read about the fond memories one has of the land one grew up in. A gurdwara is the hub of social life wherever Sikhs live. I want to draw attention of all in this thread to the near famine conditions in the Horn of Africa. UNITED SIKHS had established a Guru Nanak Food Bank in Nairobi in January 2011. A team of volunteers is leaving from California a self-funded volunteer service project to start a langar for the famine affected with the help of the local Directors, Jessi Kaur and Gurbachan Singh. We appeal to all to donate for this noble cause. You can donate online at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/donate.php.

52: Bob Singh (Ex-Nairobi, Kenya; now London, United Kingdom), September 14, 2011, 6:50 PM.

Wow, I'm amazed at how many non-Sikhs have experienced the serenity of the Makindu Gurdwara. As the Gurus preached ... recognize all mankind as one. May Waheguru bless us all. And for the ones who haven't done caravan, do it!

53: Harjinder Chana (United Kingdom), September 16, 2011, 5:03 PM.

I was also born in Nairobi and have wonderful memories of going to Makindu on several occasions for services with my father's 'jatha'. My father is S. Harchand Singh Chana (Chanai) and my chacha ji, Master Hari Singh Chana. Ref. # 45 above - Bholan - have you two sisters (doctors? one of them, Kulwant? and two brothers - one Bhabi?) and did you live in the railway quarters in Nairobi South? My mother's name was Pritam Kaur. Will be pleased to hear from you.

54: Christina Lemster-Bach (Germany), October 01, 2011, 5:01 PM.

Spending some months traveling in Kenya back in 1979, I enjoyed the hospitality at the Makindu Gurdwara many a time. It didn't look anything like as grand and beautiful then as it does now, but it was always a wonderful and welcoming place to stop. Thank you for bringing back the memories.

55: HarSharan Singh Chana  (Abu Dhabi, UAE), June 22, 2012, 2:50 PM.

Makindu means a lot to me. My grandfather S. Harnam Singh Chana was involved in the building of the Sikh shrine when he reached Makindu during the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway. Story has it that Makindu was the mid-way point of the railway where there was a main workshop for servicing the building of he railway and my grandfather was stationed there along with other Sikhs for a while. My grandfather is also believed to have carved the Palki Sahib of Makindu Gurdwara. I used to be taken to Makindu from as early as 1955 by my father S. Hari Singh Chana (Masterji) during school holidays en-route to Mombasa. Kaccha roads and Makidu Gurdwara was almost unmanned, but I remember that there was a Hindu resident in one "quarter" at the premises. My dad pioneered the New Makindu Gurdwara and with my Tayaji S. Harchand Singh Chana, Harbhajan Singh Sagoo and others whose names I can't remember, did the ground breaking of the construction of the new Makindu Gurdwara. I have some pictures of those moments on Facebook - check out Harry Chana.

56: Sarabjit Kaur (Birmingham, United Kingdom), December 17, 2013, 5:56 PM.

I was born in Nairobi and I too have vivid memories of the beautiful and serene Makindu gurdwara. I remember going there with joint families as a kid and traveling all the way in a pick-up truck ... eating mapiras all the way back home. Our grandmas (derianwale) did so much seva whilst we had so much fun on the swings and going up and down the domes. I remember our grandfather S. Hari Singh Bansal producing beautiful artwork all around the gurdwara. Those were fun times. Miss those days! Makindu Gurdwara now is so grand and seems like paradise and I feel the warmth of this serene gurdwara is still there. What a lovely place on earth!

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