GUARDED BY the Shivalik Hills and a ring of imposing forts, Anandpur Sahib is a complex of historic Sikh gurdwaras. It was here that the severed head of the ninth gun], Tegh Bahadur, was brought to be cremated, at a site now marked by the Sisganj Sahib Gurdwara. The gurdwara also marks the place where the tenth and last guru, Gobind Singh, founded the Khalsa or “Army of the Pure” in 1699, along with five volunteers to help him defend the faith. The Kesgarh Sahib Gurdwara, which was built to commemorate this event, is regarded as one of the four takhts or principal seats of the Sikh religion – the others are at Amritsar Nanded in Maharashtra, and Patna in Bihar. A week-long celebration was held here in April 1999, to mark the 300th anniversary of the Khalsa.
A series of forts surround Anandpur Sahib on all sides – Lohagarh Fort was used as the armoury of the Khalsa army, Fatehgarh Fort guarded the route between Delhi and Lahore, and Taragarh Fort protected it from attacks by the hill states lying to the north, Anandpur Sahib comes to life every year during the Hola Nlohalla festival when thousands of devotees congregate here to watch the blue-robed Nibang Sikhs, descendants of the gurus’ personal guards, display their formidable martial and equestrian skills.