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A Trip Down the Memory Lane


What is the history of Chola Sheb? How many of you know of its significance in Sikh history?

Do you know the chola belongs to Shri Guru Nanak Dev?

2016 began on a great note. A ride through Himachal’s snowcapped hills, criss-crossing the Beas (Vipasha in ancient Hindu Texts) and the Satluj (Shatadru in the Rig Veda) umpteenth times, visit to mythological Shakti Peethas and stay at important gurudwaras (sikh pilgrimages) on the slopes of the Himalayas allowed enviable and relishing moments to savor.











chola saheb - chola of guru Nanak
The magnificent view of Bhakra Dam, serpentine mountainous roads at Bharwain, Kangra, Nadaun, and Naina Devi and imposing hills rising over 5,000 ft near Bilaspur still entice us to have that scintillating experience again and again. On top of it, it was a self-driving adventure through the hills.
The food at local dhabas in Himachal was so inviting and worth relishing again. The chants of Jai Mata Di continue to reverberate in our ears. I still remember my little 5-year-old nephew reciting Jai Mata Ji when we were traveling in a cable car, which have me goosebumps for sure.






A Bit of History


A visit to Baba Bakala - the very site where ninth Sikh master Guru Teg Bahadur (Tyaga Mal became Teg Bahadur for his valor shown at the Battle of Kartarpur in 1635) spent 26 years, 9 months, and 11 days in voluntary solitude and religious contemplation - was a bewitching experience. This is the place where he turned from a great warrior prince to a solemnly religious persona.


The final destination was Dera Baba Nanak, the place where remnants of Guru Nanak were shifted and re-established after his tomb in Kartarpur was flooded. There is an enchanting story behind this place. How the small place that derives its name from Dohera (second burial of Guru Nanak’s remnants that Muslims got at Kartarpur) became Dera was another interesting story to learn.
Saw the “Chola” (a long upper garment/holy robe) and a few things related to Ranjit Singh’s most powerful General Hari Singh Nalwa. The chola transferred from one guru to another until fifth guru Arjan Dev along with five other symbols of Udasi Dress. However, Guru Arjan Dev  passed the robe to Bhai Tota Ram

The Story of the Chola Traveling to Afghanistan
During the construction of the sarovar (holy tank) in Golden Temple, Amritsar, Bhai Tota Ram, who was a resident of Afghanistan's Balakh-Bakhara, offered his serves with great devotion and worked tireslessly in spite of his injured foot. This was when Guru Arjan Dev Ji heard about him. 

Guru Ji called Tota Ram to shower his praise on him. He told him that he was happy with his dedicated services and that the latter should ask for a favor in return. To this, Bhai Tota Ram replied that he had all the worldly possessions, but his place was devoid of Gursikhi (service of the guru).

Since Guru Arjan Dev ji was still compiling Holy Granth or Guru Granth Sahib at that time, he decided to bestow on Tota Ram the Holy Robe, while the remaining five symbols were handed over to the Sodhi Clan. Then Bhai Tota Ram returned to Bukhara and displayed the Holy Robe or Chola for Guru Nanak's followers. Before his death, Tota Ram decided to secure the Chola in a secret place on a mountain, since he was apprehensive of its security after his death.He prayed that the Chola be bestowed on anyone chosen by Guru Nanak ji. 

The chola remained in that cave for decades until Baba Kabli Mal, a descendant of Guru Nanak Dev's clan (eight generation of Guru Nanank's son Baba Lakhmi Dass Ji), had a dream of the Holy Robe. In his dream, Baba Kabli Mal was directed by Guru Nanak to bring the chola back. 

When Baba Kabli Mal Ji reached Bukhara, he was told that Guru Ji’s Holy Robe was securely hidden inside the cave blocked by a huge rock, which could not be moved by anyone. Baba Kabli Mal prayed to the Almighty and the rock moved on its own. Then Kabli Mal brought the Chola to Dera Baba Nanak.



The visit to the BSF post on the border to gaze at the Kartarpur Gurudwara on the other side was another thrilling experience. (Will come up with detail story about the history of the place soon).
The harsh and foggy winter on the Punjab plains failed to overwhelm, rather evaporated, before the great warmth and benign hospitality of our friends bestowed at Dina Nagar.

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