Baba Atal Burj

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Baba Atal Tower, situated approximately 185 metres due south of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, is a nine-storeyed octagonal tower built to commemorate Baba Atal Rai, the son of the sixth Sikh Guru, Hargobind.

Gurdwara Baba Atal was built between 1778 and 1784 AD and is the tallest tower in Amritsar and allows fantastic views over the city. Originally built as a cenotaph to host the remains of Atal Rai (1628), it was later transformed into a gurdwara.

According to legend, Atal Rai, at the age of nine, restored his close friend Mohan, son of a widow, to life after his sudden demise. Guru Hargobind, considering this act as being against Sikh traditions, rebuked him. It is said that Atal Rai told his father that he would lay down his own life for breaking the law of nature by reviving his friend from the dead. That day Atal Rai took a dip in the sacred sarovar at Harmandir Sahib and went to his favourite spot where he had a view of the Darbar Sahib. There he recited his prayers and departed peacefully in 1628 AD at the age of nine. Named ‘Baba’ or old man because of his extraordinary powers, he was cremated at the very spot where the tower now exists.

The present nine storeys represent the nine years of Baba Atal’s life. The edifice is a double octagonal structure, one rising on the exterior and the other on the interior. The storeys on the exterior, with a bigger octagonal base, terminate at the sixth level, the interior and smaller octagonal base supports nine storeys, and the three upper storeys are surmounted by a gilded dome. The robust walls allow a double staircase to run to the top of the tower through the breadth of the wall, with a provision for entrance at each floor.

There are four doors on the ground floor, one on each of the cardinal sides. However, the main entrance faces east. Within the interior octagonal elevation the Guru Granth Sahib is kept, enshrined in a beautifully wrought brass canopy, surmounted by an exquisite chhatri. The doors are made of silver and brass with elegant designs of figures recounting Sikh and Hindu themes are affixed in a set of three plates on each of the four outer doors.

Decorated brass sheets in the tower were presented by the devotees, approximately during the middle of the nineteenth century and after, some containing names and date.  The interior walls of the first floor are adorned with murals. Unfortunately, many of these have been destroyed beyond recognition and at present only 42 panels survive. A large series of beautiful frescoes recount the life of Guru Nanak. The first painting in the series represents all the gods requesting the God to send a holy person to earth to relieve it of the burden of Kali Yuga; and the last depicts Guru Nanak appointing Angad Dev as his successor. Another series represents Sikh martyrs, including the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh, who laid down their lives for the cause of their faith.

The Gurdwara opens at 6.00 am every day with the final entry for the day at 8.30 pm and closing at 9.00pm.

 

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