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Gurdwara Baba Atal - Frescoes


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Gurdwara Baba Atal Rai Sahib - Amritsar

The beloved son of Guru Hargobind, Baba Atal Rai left the earth and was cremated here. Atal Rai was a much beloved son of Guru Hargobind and was born in 1620. One day as young Atal Rai playmate was bitten by a snake and died. At seeing the boys family crying over his body, Atal Rai bought his friend back to life. When Guru Hargobind heard of the miracle he admonished his son saying that "How can anyone interfere with the ways of God?". Baba Atal Rai was so distressed at hearing his fathers reprimand that he withdrew to the side of Kaulsar pool and saying his prayers, lay down and gave up his life for the life that he had saved. The nine stories of the Gurdwara represent the nine years of Baba Atal's short life. Two great heroes from Sikh history Nawab Kapur Singh and Jassa Singh Ahluwalia were also cremated here. (from Sikhs.org)

It is believed a monument has been here since the 1600s - this was destroyed by Abdali. The Sikh Sardars built a 3 storeyed building in 1750 AD - Giani Gian Singh claims the present nine storeyed building was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1821 AD - though SGPC records claim the foundations and tower date from 1778 AD.

The First floor of the tower is painted with scenes from Guru Nanak's life - in the form of a JanamSakhi

There are also depictions of The Sahibzadas and Shahids.

These frescoes are believed to have been originally painted around the mid to late 19th century , using Indian red, ochre and other earth colours with Gold accents - However almost all have been repainted in a 1971 "renovation" in a very garish manner - with different colours and synthetic paints - Arshi (1986) states that "they do not have the essence of their antiquity and even the colours have been changed" - and that quote is before the more recent "renovation" which included the use of tiles and 'cover up' whitewashing .At present 42 panels remain - the frescoes on the ground floor were covered with marble slabs decades ago and the remaining 'retouched' frescoes are under threat from the slapdash whitewashing of well meaning sewadars.

One illustration of the total disregard for Sikh Heritage in Punjab is the fact 'little' bricks from the original 'Baradari' of the Baba Atal Tower are openly sold in the Bazaars of Amritsar as souvenirs - while these may be fakes - it shows the current sad state of affairs.

Gurdwara Baba Atal - in the 1880s

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Gurdwara Baba Atal in the late 1960s early 70s - note the remnants of painting on the soffits under the gold dome - today the tower is all whitewashed - at some point it may have been painted with patterns and motifs like the Darshani Deori of the Darbar Sahib.

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The dome of the Baba Atal tower - with unsympathetic modern additions - an access ladder and fluorescent strip lighting. Also note the insensitive cleaning with high pressure hose - the whitewashed soffitts can also be seen.

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Gurdwara Baba Atal - Today

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Jaimal Singh Naqaash (1860-1916) and Mehtab Singh Naqaash ( 1871 - 1940) dedicated themselves to decorate the walls of the Baba Atal Gurdwara as well as The Harimandir Sahib and Gurudwaras at Baba Bakala with 'Naqaashi' - frescoes. Mehtab Singh was also an expert in 'Gach' and 'Tukri' work which can be seen on the ceilings of the Baba Atal gurdwara - in various states of disrepair.

Jaimal Singh

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Mehtab Singh

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* Pictures from sikh-heritage.co.uk

Damaged Gach and Tukri work on the ceilings of Baba Atal Gurdwara 2002

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* from tribuneindia.com

The Frescoes - Janamsakhi Guru Nanak - Baba Atal Gurdwara Amritsar

BeKunth Darshan

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Rai Bular - Sahib da Hukum

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Modi Khana

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The Jat's field

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Guru Nanak's birth - Devte come for Darshan

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* Pictures from sikhgallery.tripod.com (site no longer works)

A Nihang Singh - in the form of a 'dvarpala' or 'door guardian'

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Baba Deep Singh Shahid

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The Marriage of Guru Nanak Sahib

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"Sach Khand Vase Nirankar"

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The Bhagats - Kabir ,Namdev, Ramanand , Jaidev, Pipa and Dhanna

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The bestowing of 'GurGaddi' tilak to Lehna - Guru Angad Sahib

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Detail of the 'Das Gur Darshan' panel

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Baba Ajit Singh, Baba Jujhar Singh - Kartor Singh Shahid, Sham Singh Shahid - Naina Singh & Khargh Singh Shahid

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The Battle Field of Mukhtsar

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Detail of Mukhtsar panel

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Guilded Panels from Baba Atal Rai Gurdwara made by the craftsmen of 'Kucha Fakirkhana', Amritsar in the 19th century - depicting Guru Gobind Singh Ji and The 'Char Sahibzade' Baba Ajit Singh Baba Jujhar Singh Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh.

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The Guilded panels above one of the four entrances

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Detail - Guru Gobind singh Ji

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The First Amrit Sanchar - Sahib Singh and Guru Sahib with Kirpan in Hand

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The Amrit Sanchar - Panj Piare and Mata Sahib

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* Pictures from The Sikhs - Images of a Heritage - T S Randhawa 2000, Wall Paintings of Punjab and Haryana - Kanwarjit Singh Kang 1985 , Sikh Architecture - P S Arshi 1986 , Marg Vol XXX No.3 Homage to Amritsar 1977.

Hope that post wasn't too long !!

- Enjoy the Pictures - Many of the frescoes especially those in the 1970s black and white pictures no longer exist - either repainted, white washed or lost in the name of 'renovation' - so only pictures of them remain.

If you have any pictures , please post them !

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh !

Ranjit Singh 'Freed'

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Here are some more pictures of the Baba Atal Murals - emailed to me- originally from Sukhmani Kaur's Blog - http://www.skaur.blogspot.com/

Many Thanks to the Sender - you know who you are (Pyar Bhari Sat Sri Akal) !!

Scenes from the Life of Guru Nanak Sahib

Ladoos and Updesh

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Guru Nanak Sahib's Sons Lakhmi Das and Sri Chand

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Bhai Lalo & Malik Bhago

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Raakash

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Sarp

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Schooldays

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Wali Kandhari

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Here are some more pictures !!!!

A sketch by Mehtab Singh Naqaash - who painted the frescoes - dated 1901 AD. It can be seen that the first floor and the top 3 storeys appear to be painted with what seem to be floral motifs.

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* taken from Album Central Sikh Museum, Golden Temple Amritsar - Principal Satbir Singh - 1996

Guru-Ki-Nagari - The View from the Baba Atal Rai Tower - (Picture by Sukhmani Kaur - from her Blog http://www.skaur.blogspot.com/ )

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