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In Pakistan’s Mansehra, a resplendent gurdwara to open for prayers again soon

The gurdwara building — known as an architectural masterpiece, is currently housing a municipal library for the public, and has been in the possession of Mansehra's Town Municipal Administration (TMA) since 1999.

THE EVACUEE Trust Property Board (ETPB) has decided to take possession of the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, on Kashmir road in Mansehra city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province of Pakistan, from the local authorities and open it for the local Sikh community to offer prayers.

The gurdwara building — known as an architectural masterpiece, is currently housing a municipal library for the public, and has been in the possession of Mansehra’s Town Municipal Administration (TMA) since 1999.

The move will be significant for the local Sikh community in Mansehra as there is no other gurdwara in the city.

Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Imran Gondal, deputy director, Shrines, ETPB, said that a meeting was held on Wednesday at Civil Secretariat Peshawar in which ETBP raised the matter of taking possession of Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha with Mohtasim Billa, special secretary, local government, KPK.

“After thorough deliberation, they have accepted the stance of ETPB and showed willingness to give possession of the gurdwara to us after resolving some administrative issues. Gurdwara Singh Sabha Mansehra is a historical and magnificent gurdwara which is intact in its original architecture. It has been in possession of TMA Mansehra since 1999,” said Gondal.

“The beautiful frescoes inside the gurdwara are still intact and one of a kind,” he added.

The gurdwara was built in the early 1900s. After Partition, Sri Guru Granth Sahib was never installed in this gurdwara, says Shahid Shabbir, a Pak-based Sikh historian. “But the paalki for Guru Granth Sahib prakash is still intact in its original glory.”

Amardeep Singh, author of two books on Sikh heritage in Pakistan — ‘Lost Heritage: The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan’ and ‘The Quest Continues’ — says, “Using the gurdwara building as a library was also a fine example of heritage being put to good use because it has helped in the preservation of the beautiful structure. It shows that if there is will, even abandoned gurdwara buildings can be maintained if used for constructive purposes and betterment of mankind…”

Gondal said that the local administration will be handing over the gurdwara building to ETPB after finding a suitable place to relocate the library. “The plan is to install Sri Guru Granth Sahib again at Mansehra’s Gurudwara Sri Singh Sabha,” he added.

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