90% Sikh heritage sites located in Pakistan: Historian

90% Sikh heritage sites located in Pakistan: Historian

Guru Nanak Dev, at Nankana Sahib, a Pakistani city about 80 kilometres from the eastern city of Lahore. (Photo by AFP)

Indian-origin British historian and author Bobby Singh Bansal, who is considered as an authority on Sikh heritage in Pakistan, has claimed that 90 per cent of the Sikh heritage sites are located in the country, mostly in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, as he underlined their potential to promote religious tourism.

Speaking at a guest talk titled 'From Kartarpur to Khyber Pass' at the Victoria Memorial Hall of Peshawar Museum on Friday, the UK-born historian took the audience to an interesting journey through a historic landscape dotted with Sikh era monuments, forts, battlefields, shrines, tombs, gurdwaras and havelies.

He said 90 per cent of the Sikh heritage sites are located in Pakistan. The KP province, which has the maximum number of such sites, has the potential to attract the Sikh community from across the globe.

Bansal, who is also a filmmaker, talked about Sikh personalities associated with the KP province, particularly General Hari Singh Nalwa and Akali Phoola Singh. Both died in KP and their tombs are there.

The 'Jamrud Fort' in Khyber district is a "goldmine" for attracting Sikh tourists because of the tomb of Nalwa there, he said.

Nalwa was the commander-in-chief of the army of the Sikh Empire.

"He is one of the most revered personalities among the Sikhs and people from the community would want to visit his tomb. The love and association for Hari Singh Nalwa by Sikh community could be gauged from the fact that my own car number plate carries his name," Bansal said.

If Pakistan allows Sikh diaspora to visit the cremation site and tomb of Nalwa, the community members from across the globe will rush to the site, he said.

He also highlighted other Sikh-era monuments, including the tomb of Akali Phoola Singh in Nowshera, the Balahisar Fort, Gor Ghattree, the Shabqadar Fort and the Bhai Biba Singh temple.

"These places should be on the Sikh tourist map of KP. This topic is of particular interest to the Sikh diaspora from around the world who would like to travel to KP and be part of organised tours to be able to view this shared heritage," he said at the lecture organised by the KP Directorate of Archeology.

Bansal, who is also the director of the Sikh Heritage Foundation UK, narrated his experiences of visiting the KP province since the 1980s and the subsequent research, which led him to visit and document all the Sikh monuments in KP from 2007 to 2019.

Bansal is the man behind Maharaja Ranjit Singh's life-size statue that was unveiled at the Mai Jindan Haveli in the Lahore Fort on the occasion of 180th death anniversary of the legendary Sikh ruler in June. His father migrated to the UK from India in the early 1960s. 

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