Dr Amrit Kaur | March 06, 2023 05:11 PM

Gurdwara Ghallughara Sahib, Chhamb Kahnuwan, District Gurdaspur

The Sikh history of the 16th, 17th and 18th century is replete with atrocities impinged on the Sikhs by the Mughal and Afghan invaders and their descendents who ruled India.

In the blood-stained pages of Sikh history (i) Chhota Ghallughara (Minor Holocaust) which occurred during March-June 1746 and (ii) Vadda Ghallughara (Major Holocaust) which took place on February 5, 1762, in each of which 40,000 Sikhs were killed present examples unparalleled in world history. Chhota Ghallughara was in no way small or insignificant and until February 5, 1762 it was simply termed as 'Ghallughara'. But when Ahmad Shah Abdali's forces joined by the Mughal forces killed 40,000 Sikh men, women and children in a single day i.e. February 5, 1762, the Ghallughara which had occurred during March-June 1746 came to the termed as 'Chhota Ghallughara' and the Ghallughara of February 5, 1762 came to be called 'Vadda Ghallughara'.

The history of torturing and executing Sikhs can be traced to the invasion of Babar in 1521 during which he ransacked Saidpur now called Eminabad (which now falls in the Gujranwala District of Pakistan) and killed many innocent persons. Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, not only witnessed but also became a victim of these atrocities and explained them in detail in his baani. In 1524 Babar got the city of Lahore set on fire and Bhai Tara Singh Ji who had come from a nearby village to extinguish this fire, as per the orders of Babar was thrown into the same fire which he was trying to extinguish. Bhai Tara Singh Ji thus became the first Sikh martyr. At the same time Bhai Popat Ji, who was a follower of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and was distributing langer (community meal) to the surviving victims of the fire was ordered by Babar to be trampled over by the horses. The atrocities initiated by Babar were continued by the successive Mughal rulers as well as their officials. As per imperial orders of Jahangir, Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji was tortured in multifarious ways who finally attained martyrdom on May 30, 1606. Through the imperial orders of Aurangzeb, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib was tortured in many ways and finally beheaded in public view in Chandni Chowk, Delhi on November 11, 1675.

The Mughal rulers of Punjab followed in their entirety the policies of the Delhi rulers. In the battles fought by local rulers against Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the two elder sons of Guru Sahib, Sahibzada Ajit Singh Ji and Sahibzada Jujhar Singh ji lost their lives. These battles were all a part of the policy of Mughals to annihilate the Sikhs. The cruelty of the Mughal empire culminated in the martyrdom of the two younger sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji - Sahibzada Fateh Singh Ji and Sahibzada Zorawar Singh Ji who were bricked alive at the place now called Fatehgarh Sahib.

After Aurangzeb, Bahadur Shah (period of reign 21.2.1707 - 18.2.1712) followed suit and waged an all-out war against the Sikhs wherein they were caught and killed wherever found with a view to extinguish the Sikh race. It was under Bahadur Shah's orders that the imperial forces attacked Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji again and again. After Bahadur Shah his son Jahandar Shah assumed kingship for a few months and then Bahadur Shah's nephew Farrukhsiyar ascended the Delhi throne. It was under his orders that on June 9, 1716 Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji was tortured to death in Mehrauli, Delhi. All along, the rulers in Punjab as well as their Ministers, Chiefs and Bigwigs obeyed the orders of the Delhi empire. The period after Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji's martyrdom was especially marked with unimaginable atrocities on the Sikhs.

When in 1745 Yahiya Khan, the son-in-law of Kamrudin, a Minister in the Delhi regime assumed Governorship of Lahore he issued orders that (i) Sikhs should be barred entry in their holy shrine Sri Harmandar Sahib (ii) the prominent Sikhs should be arrested and (iii) any Sikh seen anywhere should be shot at. To implement his fanatic policies he appointed Jaspat Rai, a Hindu Khatri, as his Revenue Minister. The most ignominious and heart rending event of Yahiya Khan's Governorship is that of Chhota Ghallughara. 'Ghallughara' means total destruction and slaughtering of people i.e. a massacre.

The most detailed account of this massacre is that given by Rattan Singh Bhangu in his book Prachin Panth Parkash which he completed in 1841. Bhangu was the (i) paternal grandson of Bhai Matab Singh Ji who killed Massa Ranghar who was polluting the precincts of the holy shrine Sri Harmandar Sahib and (ii) maternal grandson of Jathedar Sham Singh Ji who was jathedar of Taruna Dal. Thus Bhangu had learnt about the details of the tragic events of Chhota Ghallughara from his father, paternal grandfather and maternal grand-father.

As reported by Bhangu, in late 1745 under the Governorship of Yahiya Khan the hakoomat (ruling authorities in Punjab) was trying to kill the Sikh jathas even if they were moving very peacefully. Under these circumstances these jathas took shelter in forests, deserts, and wild marshy areas on the banks of rivers. These jathas made their shacks (huts) in the dens of lions, leopards and other wild animals in the scum growing on the banks of rivers. The Mughal soldiers were continuously trying to locate them in these hide-outs and killing them by showering bullets on them. To escape from these gun shots the Sikhs hiding in the marshy land on the river banks would jump into the river, but as soon as they took their heads out of water to breath, these soldiers would shower bullets on them. The plight of these Sikhs is beyond imagination and description who would take out their head out of water to breath and then again dive into the water to escape from the bullets. Under these circumstances, the Sikhs decided to come together and jointly fight with the enemy through guerilla tactics wherein they started invading the Mughal troops when they seemed under control and snatched weapons, horses and food stuffs from them but when the enemy seemed powerful they would go into their hide-outs. In this way they devastated the areas on the sides of roads leading to Lahore, Kasur and Delhi.

At this time inadequate collection of revenue had further infuriated the hakoomat which decided to kill Sikhs in an organized manner. According to Sukhdial Singh because of the organized invasions by the Mughal soldiers, having been pushed out of Amritsar and Lahore the Sikh jathas which were 25-30 in number, went to the marshy land on the western bank of river Ravi which was northwards and adjacent to the hills of Jammu and Himachal Pradesh. This area seemed viable to the Sikh jathas for three reasons (i) it was not easily approachable by the enemy's forces (ii) its population was Hindu and (iii) there was availability of wild fruits. The Sikh jathas encamped in this area in such a way that their hide-outs were not visible from a long distance. The Sikhs had developed friendly relations with the animals and thus constructed their shacks in their dens. The distressful life which the Sikhs were living at this time is beyond imagination and description and bears testimony to the fanatic policies of the Mughal empire.

In early 1746 a Sikh jatha having been pushed out of Lahore area by the killer imperial forces reached Eminabad (now in Gujranwala District, Pakistan), 55 kms. from Lahore on the western side of Ravi which was the estate of Jaspat Rai, brother of Lakhpat Rai. As reported in the Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Vol. IV this jatha was being led by S. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and S. Sukkha Singh Marikambo Ji. This jatha halted at Gurdwara Rori Sahib built in the sacred memory of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji who in 1521 had sat on the rori (pebbles) to worship and was arrested by Babar from this place. Jaspat Rai asked the Sikhs to vacate the Gurdwara at once but they requested him to allow them to leave after cooking and partaking off langar. As reported by Bhangu Jaspat Rai shrieked, 'you think I will give you time to cook and eat? I will have your hair cut and intertwined to make the strings for buckets of the Persian wheel. I will kill you in the same way as your Mani Singh was killed by cutting you limb by limb'. 1 The angered Sikhs leaving everything aside furiously attacked the armed forces of Jaspat Rai. A Ranghreta Sikh Nibhahu Singh immediately jumped onto the elephant of Jaspat Rai and quickly reaching the howdah cut off his head with one stroke of his sword. When the news of his brother's murder reached Lakhpat Rai he became infuriated and decided to intensify his activities of annihilating the Sikhs. He approached Yahiya Khan, the Governor of Lahore and putting his turban (head-dress) on his feet vowed that he will not put it on his head, until he had "scourged the entire Sikh Panth". He said he will not call himself a khatri (Kashtarya) until the Sikhs are no more in existence.

Yahiya Khan helped Lakhpat Rai liberally with money as well as armed forces to annihilate the Sikhs. According to Bhangu, Lakhpat Rai's first attack was on the Sikhs working in the Government departments. All the Sikhs in and around Lahore along-with their families were rounded up and handed over to the sweepers with the order that they could take any work of their choice from them, who were to be killed on March 10, 1746 which was Monday. Many Hindu nobles of Lahore tried to convince Lakhpat Rai that these Sikhs had no role in the killing of his brother and thus should not be killed. When Lakhpat Rai did not care for their request, they requested him that if they were to be killed at all they should not be killed on March 10 because it was massiya, the last day of the dark half of the lunar month which was a holy day for the Sikhs. Lakhpat Rai ignored even the intersession of his Guru, Sant Jagat Bhagat Gosain that their killing should not take place on massiya. Lakhpat Rai got all these Sikhs and their families killed on March 10, 1746. After that he publically announced that the stomach of that person who utters the word 'Guru' would be pierced. Sri Guru Granth Sahib should be termed a 'pothi' instead of the word 'beerh'. Also for 'gur' (jagggery) the world 'rori' should be used because the word 'gur' resembles the word 'guru'. He got several sets of Sri Guru Granth Sahib thrown into the wells and rivers. He got the holy tank of Sri Darbar Sahib filled with dust.

After the massacre of Sikhs on March 10, 1746, he ordered each of his officials to arrest 1,000 Sikhs daily who were killed in Lahore by executioners mercilessly. Lakhpat Rai would himself watch the killing of these Sikhs. In addition, Lakhpat Rai prescribed quotas for headmen of villages for killing Sikhs. Under these orders thousands of Sikhs were mercilessly killed every day.

To extinguish the Sikhs Lakhpat Rai collected the forces from the neighbouring nawabs, garrison commanders and hilly chiefs. As reported by Sukhdial Singh in addition to mobilizing his own forces all the garrison commanders' forces of Multan, Bahawalpur, Kasur, Attock, Doab, Tihar and hilly chiefs were summoned.

The Sikh parents because of fear of an onslaught on their young sons sent them away from home and thus only children, women and old persons stayed back. When Lakhpat learnt about this phenomenon, he became afraid lest all these young boys join the Singh jathas. He cunningly announced publically that no action will be taken against those Sikh families which call their young sons back. But when approached by their parents the young sons said that Lakhpat was using this as a pretence for catching them. The parents because of fear of Lakhpat Rai who might imprison them if they go back without their sons, also started living with their sons in the marshy areas. Lakhpat Rai's forces in the name of jehad attacked with full fury the Singh jathas which included at least 15,000 Sikhs in the chhamb (marshy area) of Ravi at Kathua, District Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir. The Singhs were under the command of S. Jassa Singh Ahluwalia and S. Sukkha Singh Marikambo Ji. The Singhs decided to fight with the enemy through guerilla tactics of warfare following 2½ gash steps (i) the first step being to attack the enemy quickly when the enemy seems controllable (ii) the second step being to run away quickly after the attack and (iii) the remaining half gash being that if the Singh is unable to run and is suddenly encircled by the enemy he should die fighting and not surrender. Under this strategy the Singhs hiding in the jungle attacked Lakhpat's forces as soon as they came near them and then quickly hid themselves in the Ravi chhamb. This caused heavy losses to Lakhpat's forces. Lakhpat and his generals were wonder-struck. Considering his losses in his first encounter Lakhpat chalked out a new strategy wherein the mounted troops equipped with guns were to proceed in the front row to be followed by infantry. It was decided to fire cannon balls in the direction of the jungle to harm the Singhs hidden there. The mounted troops after firing with toredar cannons (which were ignited through a string) were to retreat. This was to be followed by infantry. The beldars were attached with the infantry to clear the way by cutting the bushes.

In the second encounter Lakhpat's troops went into the jungle as far as they could go and encamped there. During night also the jungle was set on fire by firing the cannon balls. For a long time the Singhs countered these attacks very firmly but later they had to retreat to places beyond the reach of the cannon balls. At this point the Singhs were caught in a dilemma, with flooded Ravi river in front of them and enemy's troops at their heels. The policy of the Singhs was not to cross Ravi and instead go upwards towards the hilly area of Jammu because they expected help from the Hindu population. Moreover, in that area the influence of Lakhpat was very insignificant. Gujranwala, Sialkot and Narowal were directly under the control of Yahiya Khan, the Governor of Lahore and also the population of these places was Muslim. Thus the Singh jathas fighting with the enemy started going towards the sandy hills of Jammu away from the river Ravi. But since Lakhpat had sent messages to Hindu chiefs, they had stationed their army and also equipped the public with weapons and blocked all the ways. As soon as the Singhs coming out of the jungle of Punjab started entering the territory of Jammu, the hilly army as well as hillmen started showering gun shots, bricks and pebbles on them which caused heavy losses to them. Thus, these jathas stopped proceeding in the direction of the hills. Now the only one alternative, they had was to retreat towards Ravi, cross it and enter the upper areas of Majha in Punjab. It was very difficult to cross Ravi because it was flooded. Two young brothers of Dallewalia who had entered Ravi to assess as to where it was shallow and crossable had not come back. At this crucial time the Singhs decided to divide the jatha into two parts - infantry troops and mounted troops. The infantry jatha could not cross the river and the mounted troops could not mount the sandy hills of Jammu. So it was decided that the infantry troops should go up the hills and the horsemen should remain stationed there until the former had gone up the hills.

Bhangu has mentioned first about the infantry jatha which after beating the hillmen, smoothing the uneven sandy mounds with their swords and shields finally made its way and went up the hills, though after having  suffered very heavy losses. The mounted jatha which was under the command of S. Sukkha Singh Marikambo Ji, decided to have a direct encounter with the enemy and attacked at the exact place where Lakhpat Rai himself was stationed with his troops. Lakhpat was heavily encircled and thus this jatha could not reach him. A cannon ball, however, injured the leg of S. Sukkha Singh Marikambo Ji who tied his leg tightly with a parna, but had to retreat his steps. The mounted Singh jatha being outnumbered by the Mughals and being under-equipped finally decided to cross the river Ravi and reach the chhamb in-between Ravi and Beas rivers. As reported by Sukhdial Singh the horse-riding Singh troops dodged the enemy in such a way that they crossed Ravi and reached its eastern bank. By this time night had befallen and thus Mughal forces could not follow them.

The Singhs suffered heavy casualties on the western side of Ravi in the area of Kathua as well as while crossing Ravi. According to Sarhaddi, in the area of Kathua 1,000 sikhs were martyred and 500 were arrested who were taken to Lahore and executed there. Because of our carelessness no memorial has been raised in the chhamb of Kathua to commemorate the Sikhs martyred in this area.

The mounted Singh jatha reached the chhamb in-between Ravi and Beas i.e. the area of Gurdaspur (present day) and Pathankot. Gurdaspur (present day) had not come into existence at that time. According to Bhangu after crossing Ravi and coming to its eastern side the Singhs encamped in two chhambs - chhota (smaller) chhamb and vadda (larger) chhamb. According to Sukhdial Singh chhota chhamb was probably the area around Pathankot and the vadda chhamb was that of Kahnuwan. It is possible that the chhota chhamb was not as dense and extensive as the vadda chhamb of Kahnuwan. The width of the area of Gurdaspur (present day) and Pathankot which is in-between Ravi and Beas is quite narrow and going northwards it continues to decrease and at one point the distance between Ravi and Beas is hardly 25-30 kms. The area of chhota chhamb was swampy and wild. At this place elephant grass 15-20 feet tall was growing which was so thick that it was impossible to pass through it. In this swampy area there were some sandy mounds which were covered with thorny bushes. The swampy area and the sandy mounds were interspersed and a person caught in this area could die if there was no one to pull him out. This is exactly the area which is called chhamb or jhall. The sandy mounds became very hot in summer. The area of Gurdaspur (present day) and of Kahnuwan was all chhamb. The present day Kahnuwan and Tibber were the central points of this chhamb. Kahnuwan is situated at a distance of 15 kms southwards from Gurdaspur (present day) on the western side of river Beas. As Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha has stated - "in District Gurdaspur near the village Kahnuwan there is a lake out of which hundreds of fountains are flowing out and because of vegetable growth and dense forest the Sikhs would often assemble at this place and for the Sikhs it was a vanudrag" i.e. a well planned forest which can serve as a fort.

Following the Singh jathas after crossing Ravi Lakhpat Rai's troops reached these two chhambs and attacked them. Under a feeling that his troops were likely to lose Lakhpat adopted mean tactics. He gathered carpenters and blacksmiths of the area and got some part of the jungle cut.

According to Bhangu the Singhs who had entered the chhota chhamb were killed because of the cutting of trees and because the jungle was set on fire. Northwards from Kahnuwan at Tibber (current cantonment) and Old Shala which were the central points of this Ghallughara the Mughal forces as well as the laymen recruited by Lakhpat Rai caused too much harm to the Singhs. But in the battle which took place in Kahnuwan area i.e. the vadda chhamb the Mughal forces could not function as effectively as in the chhota chhamb and thus suffered heavier losses than the Singh jathas. The Singhs snatched weapons and clothes from the Mughal troops.

As per historical evidence the battle in these two chhambs continued for about 2 months. In this area the Ghallughara was very intensive during June 1-10, 1746. By the evening of June 10, the enemy had mercilessly killed countless Sikh children and women although after having suffered heavy casualties themselves. In an urgent meeting the Singhs decided to cross the array of enemy's forces and proceed towards Riarki so that they can cross the river Beas at the Bhet dock near Sri Hargobindpur.

In the early hours of June 11, 1746 the Singhs uttered the ovation 'Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akal' and jumped on-to the enemy like hungry lions. In the skirmish which ensued thousands of Mughal army men and common folk collected by Lakhpat were killed. At night fall at a place about 4 kms northwards from Kahnuwan, when the Mughal forces were asleep in their tents, the Singhs attacked and caused heavy loss to them. On June 12, 1746 the Singh jathas left Kahnuwan and moved towards Riarki.

There is difference of opinion about the sequence of events of this Ghallughara. Some historians think that the Ghallughara started in the chhamb on the western side of Ravi in Kathua. After having been maltreated by the hill people the Singhs crossed Ravi and reached chhota chhamb and vadda chhamb and the Ghallughara continued in these two chhambs. But some historians think that the Ghallughara started in the chhamb of Kahnuwan. Becoming aware of the quantum of Mughal troops the Singhs went to the western shore of Ravi and headed towards Parol and Kathua. But on being maltreated by the hilly folk they recrossed Ravi and then crossing Beas and Sutlej went to the villages of Malva.

Gian Singh has reported that after the battle at Kahnuwan the Singhs crossed the river Beas near Sri Hargobindpur. At this place to cross the burning hot sandy shores of Beas and sandy mounds spread over an area of three miles during the burning heat of the month of Jeth (the third month of the local calendar) which corresponds to mid May - mid June was not an easy task. The horse riders could easily cross this area but those on foot had to wrap their feet by taking off some of the clothes that they were wearing. They continued going towards the river Beas. They used their shields in place of tava (circular iron plate used for cooking) which were buried in the sand in place of using fire. When they had just started cooking food in the Meerakot jhiri (grove of trees) they learnt that Lakhpat Rai's troops were following them. Therefore, all the jathas reached the villages of Ghall, Moga, Gholeye, Chawarey, Khose, Zeere, Drauli, Kotkapura, Indgarh, Dhuddi Ke, Jaito, Dhilvan, Rode, Lande, Badhni, Himmatpura, Nehia, Binjhoo Ke and Suniar.

The Sikhs in these villages served them with food as well as dressed their wounds. The Singh Dal remained in these villages for about four months. The Singhs who had gone to the hilly areas of Jammu had to face many ordeals in concealing themselves. Nobody was willing to give them food and if they tried to snatch something forcibly, to gain rewards the hill folk would call the army or the police and hand them over to them. Finally, the Singhs let their hair to become matted and wore garbs like hermits. After a long time they secretly reached Kiratpur Sahib, Distt. Anandpur Sahib, Punjab.

The Dates of Ghallughara

According to some historians this Ghallughara took place during March-May 1746 whereas some others give these dates as April-June, 1746. According to Bhangu Ghallughara started with Vaisakhi (which usually falls in the middle of April) and continued throughout Jeth approximately the middle of June. According to Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Part 1 it occurred during March-May, 1746 and the main encounter took during place 1-2 May. Sarhaddi thinks that it started in the end of March and continued until June 13. In fact the massacre of Sikhs and their families which were rounded up in and around Lahore and executed on March 10, 1746 should be considered as the starting point of Ghallughara. Thus, it may be concluded that the Ghallughara took place during March-June whereas the encounter in the two chhambs took place during May-June 1746.

Our Martyrs

The historians differ about the number of Sikhs who attained martyrdom during this Ghallughara. According to Teja Singh and Ganda Singh in the two chhambs under the direct command of Yahiya Khan and Lakhpat Rai 7,000 Sikhs were killed and 3,000 were arrested who were taken around in the streets of Lahore with naked dorsals seated on asses and then at the defamed place called 'Nakhas' were tortured to death. Their heads were arranged in the form of minarets and their bodies torned into pieces were buried under the walls of a mosque. As per historical evidence when in July 1935 Shaheedganj mosque and its adjoining buildings were demolished a large number of skeletons were found which were in the form of layers and in some cases these were full skeletons with only head missing.

According to Bhangu starting with the massacre of Sikhs on March 10 1746 in Lahore upto their reaching Malva where-ever Sikhs were found, whether they were common folk, government officials or members of Singh jathas were arrested and executed alongwith their families and as such 40,000 attained martyrdom during this Ghallughara. Bhangu has stated that his father had told him that 40,000 were killed and those who reached Malva with S. Sukkha Singh Marikambo Ji were only 2000-3000. It is worth noting that (i) the Sikhs and the members of their families who were executed on March 10, 1746 in Lahore must be several thousand (ii) Lakhpat had ordered each of his officials and bigwigs to arrest 1,000 Sikhs every day whom he himself watched being tortured to death (iii) Lakhpat had fixed quotas for village chiefs to kill the Sikhs (iv) the parents who had gone to the jungles to call back their sons, for fear of being persecuted had settled in the jungles along-with their sons (v) in the chhota chhamb the enemy had set the jungle on fire which must have resulted in burning alive a large number of Sikhs and finally (vi) in the last battle between Lakhpat's forces and the Singhs in the two chhambs atleast 12,000 must have been killed. According to Bhai Trilochan Singh (Vir Ji) atleast 12,000 Sikhs were martyred in the two chhambs. Therefore, if March 10, 1746 is considered the starting point of this Ghallughara which ended in June 1746, the estimate given by Bhangu as 40,000 seems correct.


The Singhs stayed in the villages of Malva for about four months and at the next Diwali festival they started gathering in Amritsar. At the time of Baisakhi in March 1747 they held Sarbatt Khalsa function in which 20,000 armed Singhs participated who resolved that in Amritsar a fort should be established at Ram Rauni. Thus Lakhpat's boasting of annihilation of Sikhs was totally falsified. Within two years of committing atrocities on the Sikhs Lakhpat Rai died a miserable death after six months of indignity and torture because Mir Mannu who became the Governor of Lahore in early 1748, as per the desire of his divan and Deputy Kaura Mall handed over Lakhpat Rai to him who in turn handed him over to Dal Khalsa who threw him into a dungeon.

Memorial to the Martyrs

Around 1932 in the sacred memory of the martyrs of this Ghallughara a one-room Gurdwara, Gurdwara Chhotta Ghallughara Sahib was constructed at Kahnuwan, Tehsil and District Gurdaspur which was the centre of vadda chhamb. Now at this place stands a very graceful Gurdwara.

For a long time in the area of Kahnuwan the land was marshy and there were thorny bushes. At the place where now gracefully stands this Gurdwara also for a long time the land was slightly marshy and there were thorny bushes all over.

At a distance of few meters from the Gurdwara there exists an old well six feet in diameter seemingly very old having water which has about 3 feet high maund around it. For security reasons, it has been covered with iron rods. Because of carelessness of the Sikh community no memorial has been raised in the sacred memory of the martyrs in chhotta chhamb which is Pathankot and its surrounding area.

At a distance of about 50 meters from the existing building of the Gurdwara Chhota Ghallughara Sahib there exists an old berry (jujube) tree which according to a team of experts from Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, seems to have existed even earlier than 1745. A jot is burning under this tree since times unknown. It is believed that the martyrs of this Ghallughara were cremated at this place.

About three decades ago the Gurdwara Committee constructed a one-room Gurdwara near this tree and named it Gurdwara Ber Sahib. Conjectures trace akhand paath to the turbulent days of the 18th century when persecution had scattered the Sikhs to far-off places. As reported in the Encyclopeadia of Sikhism - 'In those uncertain times, the practice of accomplishing a reading of the Holy Book by continuous recital is believed to have originated'.

It is also conjectured that the first Akhand Paath was recited at Kahnuvan, which was completed on the day the Singhs left this place. Another memorable structure in the form of three rooms with a verandah existed until 1989 when it was demolished while constructing Shaheed Sant Bhindrawale Divan Hall. It is believed that in one of the rooms Sri Guru Granth Sahib was seated and the verandah was used as a divan hall. The old well mentioned earlier which is very close to this structure must have been the source of water for the Singhs.

This year i.e. in 2023 to pay homage to the martyrs of Chhota Ghullaghara Martyrs' Days will be observed in the Gurdwara Ghallughara Sahib, Chhamb Kahnuwan, Sub-Tehsil Kahnuwan, District Gurdaspur, Punjab during May 14-18. Currently, S. Johar Singh (Mobile No. 98724- 10353) is the President of the Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee. This massacre of Sikhs bears testimony to the tyrant policies of the Mughal empire in which Hindu officials like Lakhpat also contributed and shows the rare valour on the part of the Sikhs. In Sikh history the Chhota Ghallughara of 1746 and the Vadda Ghallughara of 1762 are unforgettable tragic events. The Sikh community will remain indebted to the Sikh men, women and children martyred in these Ghallugharas until the end of the world and will continue to pay homage to these valorous martyrs.

Jai Jaikar Shaheedan Di! Hail the Martyrs!


1. Bhagat Singh, Sikh Itihas Da Att Dukhdai Kand : Chhota Ghallughara Di Sankhep Vithiya, 1973.

2. Bhajan Singh, Sade Shaheed, 1991.

3. Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Vol. 1,2,3,4 (Editor-in-Chief Harbans Singh), 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998

4. Hari Ram Gupta, History of the Sikhs, Vol. IV, 1982.

5. Gian Singh, Twarikh Shamsher Khalsa, 1892. 6. Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha, Mahan Kosh, 1930. 7. Rattan Singh Bhangu, Prachin Panth Prakash, 1841.

8. Sukhdial Singh, Shiromani Sikh Itihas (1708-1799) Part-II, 2010.

9. Sulakhan Singh Sarhaddi, Agan Gatha - Dastan Chhota Ghallughara Chhamb Kahnuwan, 2006.

10. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh, A Short History of the Sikhs (1469-1765), 1999.

11. Bhai Trilochan Singh (Vir Ji), Gobind Times, Vol. 14, Issue 3-4, 2013.

Dr. Amrit Kaur Retd. Professor Punjabi University, Patiala Punjab, India

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