Anandpur Sahib is the location where two of the most important festivals are celebrated: Baisakhi-the birth of the Khalsa and Holla Mohalla- display of the Sikh Martial Arts. The town is particularly associated with the Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh.
Whilst millions of visitors come to Takht Keshgarh Sahib and the Sikh museum (Virasat-e-Khalsa), a lack of development and infrastructure prevents it from making it an international destination for visitors. As a result further initiatives are required to give Anandpur the recognition it deserves.The Anandpur Sahib Heritage Foundation has now set up plans to do exactly that.
The Foundation is setting up a number of new initiatives including:
* Development of Charan Ganga Stadium for Holla Mohalla Celebrations
* Preservation and Conservation of Historical Buildings Initiative
* Development of a Museum with relics of the Khalsa
This is together with improving the infrastructure and improving conditions for the local population.
Putting Anandpur on the Map
Vikram Singh Sodhi a descendant of Guru Ram Das and managing Trustee of the Foundation has been highlighting the initiatives across India and recently in the USA at San Jose Gurudwara and Glen Cove Gurdwara, New York. The Foundation has also been meeting individuals and groups in the UK.
On the 4th September 2014 at the Nehru Centre, London a panel shared their contributions on Anandpur Sahib with the audience. The session was started by Vikram Singh Sodhi who explained the significance of the town and the vision of creating Anandpur Sahib into an International visitor centre.
Vikram explained how his ancestory was in part responsible for the developing the town including the work undertaken by his Grandfather Kishan Singh Sodhi in the Nineteenth Century. He went to discuss how the holy town will be developed with initiatives of improving the conditions for visitors at Holla Mohalla. The history of the town is also an important part of the project and significance of the town was highlighted and how many of the Haveli’s and structures from the Guru period needed preserving.
This was followed by a presentation by Sikh Scholar Gurinder Singh Mann who explained how the town was founded and the significance it held for Sikhs. He discussed the importance of Holla Mohalla and as well as discussing the literary pursuits undertaken by Guru Gobind Singh and his Kavi’s at Anandpur. Mann showed specimens of manuscripts written there as well as discussing relics of the Khalsa at Takht Keshgarh Sahib.
Holla Mohalla is one of the busiest festivals of the Sikhs. The vigour and martial exploits has been captured by Author and photographer Astrid Harrisson. She explained how she had visited Holla Mohalla and was amazed at the colourful displays of the Akali Nihangs. As a result she was taken to photograph the breath taking displays of Shastar Vidya and Tent Pegging. She stated that it was a privilege to capture the Akali Nihangs and the warmth extended by the Sikhs to let her see the wonderful festival of Holla Mohalla.
The contributions highlighted by the panel showed the importance that Anandpur Sahib holds in history but also in the present time. With the right collaborations and input from Sikhs across the world the Foundation aims to put Anandpur Sahib on the world map.