Monday, September 25, 2023

Nanakmatta: Journey into the Sacred Embrace of Sikh Spirituality

Welcome to Nanakmatta, a little sleepy town in the Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand, with immense religious, cultural, and historical importance. The town is historically linked to Guru Nanak Devji, the founder of the Sikh faith. On one of his journeys, he stumbled upon this place, fell in love with it and its people, and briefly stayed here. Little wonder, Sikh and Hindu devotees converge here from far and wide to celebrate his life and message and seek solace in the town’s divine embrace.

Stepping foot into Nanakmatta is like entering into the rich tapestry of Sikh culture, where the echoes of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s teachings resonate through the air. In the heart of the town lies the namesake historic Gurudwara, which symbolizes the timeless spiritual legacy of the revered Guru. A bevy of other Gurudwaras also dot the town, each with its own story and significance. Besides, the town offers lush greenery and peaceful surroundings, ideal for meditation and spiritual awakening.

If that has piqued your curiosity, join me as I explore all things Nanakmatta. From history, location, and legends to the profound impact of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s visit and the events that have shaped its spiritual identity. It’s a soul-stirring pilgrimage to a hallowed place, where history and spirituality intertwine, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of all who journey to this spiritual haven.

Nanakmatta: Geography & Location


You have to travel into the remotes of Udam Singh Nagar District on Khatima – Panipat Road to get to this quaint village. If approaching from Sitarganj, the closest town to Nanakmatta, you will cover 12 km and 18 km when traveling from Khatima. Speaking of local governance, the village falls under the Nanakmatta Gram Panchayat and Sitarganj Community Development Block. It’s a small place, spread across 588.47 hectares and populated by roughly 9000 people, mostly Sikhs and Hindus.

Unlike other popular hill stations in Uttarakhand, Nanakmatta has a moderate elevation of 211 meters (692.26 feet) above sea level. But if you seeking a peaceful retreat with moderate elevation and picturesque views, this could be a delightful and enjoyable destination. The Deoha River flows majestically through the village, adding to its overall charm and mystic aura. The river, which has been impounded to form a picturesque dam, is considered sacred with the power to absolve sins.

Gram Panchayat: Nanak Matta Block / Tehsil: Sitarganj
District: Udham Singh Nagar State: Uttarakhand
Country: India Pin code: 262405
Area: 588.47 hectares Population: 8,470
Nearest Town: Sitarganj (12 km) Coordinates: 28°56′26″N 79°48′44″E
Closest Railway Station: Khatima (18km) Closest Airport: Pantnagar (55km)

Nanakmatta: Etymology

Nanakmatta derives its name from Guru Nanak Dev Ji who chose to stay here on one of his Udasis (spiritual journeys) and spread the message of love, compassion, peace, harmony, and unity. The word “Nanak” refers to Guru Nanak while “matta” translates to “abode” or “place of rest.” The name signifies the place where the revered Guru found solace during his spiritual journey. They called it Gorakhmatta earlier due to the presence of Siddh-Jogis of the Guru Gorakhnath monastic order.

Nanakmatta History: Tracing the Roots of Sikhism

Had it not been for Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s visit, Nanakmatta would have been just another village in the remotes of Uttarakhand. Nanakmatta’s history starts with Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the otherwise insignificant village continues to live the legacy of the great guru even after 600 years of his visit. As per the historical accounts and Sikh traditions, Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited Nanakmatta during one of his journeys, “Udasis,” in 1514 CE. The visit turned out to be a historic moment for the village.

Udasis: An Overview

Guru Nanak Dev Ji was a well-traveled man who, by some historical accounts, covered over 28,000 kilometers in his 5 major journeys or Udasis that took 24 years of his life. that makes him the second most-traveled person after Ibn Battuta. Babaji undertook Udasis to spread the real message of God, based on love, tolerance, and selfless service. As a side note, Babaji breathed his last in Kartarpur (Pakistan Punjab) at the age of 70. Courtesy of SikhiWiki, here’s a brief description of his Udasis.

Udasis (Year, Duration & Age) Places Visited
First Udasi: (1500-1506 AD) (7 years) (31-37) Sultanpur, Tulamba (modern Makhdumpur, zila Multan), Panipat, Delhi, Banaras (Varanasi), Nanakmata (zila Nainital, U.P.), Tanda Vanjara (zila Rampur), Kamrup (Assam), Asa Desh (Assam), Saidpur (modern Eminabad, Pakistan), Pasrur (Pakistan), Sialkot (Pakistan)
Second Udasi: (1506-1513 AD) (7 years) (37-44) Dhanasri Valley, Sangladip (Ceylon)
Third Udasi: (1514-1518 AD) (5 years) (45-49) Kashmir, Sumer Parbat, Nepal, Tashkand, Sikkim, Tibet
Fourth Udasi: (1519-1521 AD) (3 years) (50-52) Mecca and the Arab countries
Fifth Udasi: (1523-1524 AD) (2 years) (54-56) Places within the Undivided Punjab

Babaji’s 3rd Udasi & Nanakmatta:

On his third Udasi, Guru Nanak Dev Ji ventured into this region on his journey to the Kailash Parvat in 1514 CE. Back then, the village served as Guru Gorakhnath’s house of devotion and was known as “Gorakh Matta.” Guru Nanak Dev was so enamored with the village and its people that he decided to spend a few days here. Bhai Ranjit Singh, a part of Nanakmatta Gurudwara told me the following.

“When Guru Nanak first came, the Sidh-Jogis were apprehensive about the presence of a stranger in the village. These Jogis prevented the locals from seeking knowledge for fear of losing their hold over them. They resorted to occult powers and followed other coercive practices to exploit the local folks. Despite that, the yogis greeted Babaji and offered him to join their sect, wear their attire, and become a yogi. Guru Nanak did not yield to the offer. Instead, he taught them that a life of solitude, which does not benefit their fellow people is meaningless.”

The Story of the Peepal Tree

Guru Nanak meditated under a Peepal tree near the current site of the Gurdwara. The yogis were startled to find him there because this location was unreachable, particularly during the winter. Due to the frigid weather, Bhai Mardana requested assistance from the yogis in starting a fire. They, however, declined to assist Bhai Mardana. The yogis, on the other hand, mocked him and advised him to go seek his Guru.

When Guru Nanak saw this, he glanced at a nearby pile of firewood, which promptly caught fire. Bhai Mardana could stay warm and alive. The weather abruptly deteriorated and it began to drizzle. That doused the fire started by the mocking yogis. However, the fire started by Guru Nanak remained unaffected.

The yogis recognized their error and prostrated themselves at the toes of the Guru. They all assembled the next morning and came to Guru Nanak Ji for a religious conversation. They employed their occult powers once more to try to lift the pipal tree out of the ground beneath which Guru Ji was seated. Guru Ji merely laid his palm on the branch when it had ascended a few feet and it stopped rising.

The same tree still stands tall within the Gurdwara complex. Guru Ji walked the yogis through the path of pure meditation and enlightenment. This location became known as ‘Nanak Mata,’ and a prominent udasi center.

Nanakmatta: Historical and Cultural Significance

Nanakmatta is one of the most revered and historical places in Uttarakhand. Apart from Sikhs, it attracts people of different faiths seeking spiritual solace. Let’s discuss its significance in detail.

1. Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s Visit:

Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s visit transformed Nanakmatta from an ordinary village into a revered pilgrimage site for Sikhs and Hindus. The Nanakmatta Gurudwara here testifies to this divine visit and serves as a place of devotion and reflection for the followers of Guru Nanak. The village continues to be a center of Sikh spirituality, hosting regular prayers, kirtans, and langars. The idea is to promote the spirit of community, humility, compassion, and selfless service – in line with Babaji’s teachings.

2. Promoting Interfaith Harmony:

Nanakmatta is open to all. Regardless of your religion, gender, caste, or occupation, the village welcomes you with open arms. People from different communities live here in peace and harmony for centuries. It exemplifies the message of universal brotherhood and respect for all faiths, as Guru Nanak propagates. For me, that’s the biggest tribute to the divine soul.

2. Festivals and Celebrations:

Nanakmatta comes alive during festivals, particularly during the grand celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s birth anniversary and other Sikh festivals, such as Baisakhi. The joyous festivities, religious processions, and cultural events showcase the vibrant cultural heritage of the region.

4. “Sarbat Da Bhala”:

Guru Nanak Dev Ji stood for and propagated the philosophy of “Sarbat da Bhala” (welfare of all), which is one of the defining principles of Sikhism. Nanakmatta Gurudwara lives up to it through social services and charitable initiatives that make a difference in people’s lives.

For me, Nanakmatta comes across as a spiritual haven, where the religious and cultural merge, touching the hearts of all who visit. It inspires, uplifts, and takes us closer to Babaji’s teachings.

Weather Nanakmatta

Nanakmatta, being in the lower region of Uttarakhand, experiences a typical Northern Central climate type of the Indian subcontinent. The weather in Nanakmatta has three main seasons.

Summers

The Summers usually last for about 3-4 months from April to June. The weather is hot, with temperatures reaching Forty degrees Celsius. This is not an ideal period to arrive because the hot weather will interfere with your touring plans.

Monsoon

The area has significant rainfall and humid temperatures, making it prone to landslides. A visit during this period necessitates taking the proper safeguards. Temperature varies from about 24 degrees Celsius to about 34 degrees Celsius.

Winters

This is an excellent time to visit as the weather is quite favorable. The months of December to January are bitterly cold. Average temperatures range between 8 and 16 degrees.

Places to Visit in and Around Nanakmatta

You have plenty to explore in Nanakmatta, Uttarakhand. Here’s your checklist:

1. Nanakmatta Dam

Nanakmatta DamThe NanakMatta Dam is among the area’s most popular landmarks. The dam constructed on the Saryu River, which finally formed Nanak Sagar, functions not only as a dam but also as a location for people to unwind.

In fact, the lake is a beautiful site for picnics, boating, and fishing, and it adds to the attractiveness of this quaint town. The serene water of the reservoir and the quiet air combine to create a relaxing atmosphere. The dam is roughly 54 kilometers from Rudrapur.

2. Nanakmatta Gurudwara

Nanakmatta GurudwaraThe Gurudwara Nanak Mata Sahib, located in the center of town, is a settlement in Nanakmatta, on the Khatima-Panipat Road, between Khatima and Sitarganj. In the district of Udham Singh Nagar, it is 18 kilometers from Khatema and 12 kilometers from Sitarganj. It is one of the 3 holy sites for Sikhs and is associated with Guru Nanak Dev, the 1st Sikh Guru, who visited there in 1514. During that time, this Sikh temple was called Gorakhmataa or Gorakh Math and was the holy home of Guru Gorakhnath’s disciples.

The devotees of Guru Nanak Dev Ji built a gurudwara at the site where the Guru had stayed, which is now known as Nanakmatta Sahib Gurudwara. Throughout history, the gurudwara and the town of Nanakmatta have witnessed various developments and renovations to accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims and devotees. It has become a center of religious, cultural, and social activities, attracting people from different parts of the country and beyond.

The local inhabitants were deeply moved by his teachings, and his visit left a lasting impact on the town and its people. Over the centuries, Nanakmatta continued to hold religious significance for Sikhs and became a prominent pilgrimage site. Today, Nanakmatta stands as a revered destination for Sikhs and a place where visitors can experience the profound spiritual heritage of Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The town’s history and association with the revered Guru continue to inspire millions, making it a cherished place for seekers of spirituality and devotees alike.

3. Doodh Wala Khuan

Doodh Wala KhuanIt is around 5 kilometers from the downtown area. This location is associated with an intriguing legend. Doodh Wala Khuan, which means “Well of Milk,” is situated near Nanakmatta Gurudwara. According to the narrative, when Bhai Mardana conveyed his need for milk to Nanakji, Nanakji advised him to ask the Yogis who had a huge number of cows.

However, the Yogis declined his plea, accusing him of insulting his teacher by requesting. Guruji then made their cows bereft of all the milk, which was transferred to a well through some supernatural skills. This location is known as Doodh Wala Khuan.

4. Baoli Sahib

Baoli SahibPerched on the banks of the Ghaghar River, it is a tourist attraction. As per folklore, the Yogis used their magical powers to dry up the water in the area and challenged Nanak Dev Ji to bring it back. Nanak Dev Ji then assigned this chore to Bhai Marada, instructing him to drag the spade after him to retrieve the river. He completed the duty, and the river followed him till he turned around to check on the river. Suddenly, the water came to a halt here, and Guru Dev Ji requested the Yogis to finish the remaining assignment using their magical powers. This made them realize their error, and a Baoli known as Baoli Sahib was built as a result. It is in the vicinity of Nanak Sagar Dam, just 2 km from the main shrine.

5. Peepal Tree- Sri Baba Almastji Sahib Gurudwara

PeepalTree- Sri Baba Almast Ji Sahib GurudwaraIt is around one kilometer from the downtown area. Almost every location in this area has a fantastic story to tell, making it a highly spiritual location. Nanakji pondered under this dried Peepal Tree, turning it green with his divine powers.

When Yogis observed him meditating in this difficult location, especially during the winter, they were envious. They attempted to remove the tree using their magical powers in order to upset him. As the tree began to draw away, Nanak Dev Ji placed his hands on the roots, allowing the tree to be pulled away. The root of the tree may now be seen above the soil.

A hundred years down the line, Bhai Almast ji or Guru Har Gobind Sahib ji came to the spot. In retaliation, the yogis set the tree ablaze. He rebuilt the site as a holy sanctuary and restored the Peepal Tree back to full blossom by spraying saffron on its roots.

Things to Do in Nanakmatta

Apart from the holy pilgrim sites, you can indulge in other activities around the town.

Birdwatching- During the wintertime, the waters of Nanak Lake attract a variety of migratory birds, enticing ornithologists, nature enthusiasts, and photographers equally.

Water activities- Boating and fishing are popular activities for vacationers and travelers who visit the Nanakmatta dam. The area around the reservoir also has a lovely picnic space.

How to Reach

The town lacks an airport or rail station. The closest airport is in Pantnagar. You can then hire a cab from here. The closest railway station is at Khatima, and the place receives buses from most urban centers in the state and beyond. State-run UTC buses, private jeeps, and taxis travel to and from Nanakmatta on a routine basis.

  • Air– Pantnagar Airport is the closest airport to Nanakmatta, located 60 kilometers away. The airport has daily flights to Delhi. Taxis are accessible outside the airport.
  • Rail– Khatima, about 18 kilometers from Nanakmatta, is the area’s closest railway station. It is well connected to other metropolitan areas with a robust train network. From Khatima to Nanakmatta, you can take either buses or taxis.
  • Road– Nanakmatta is accessible by UTC (Uttarakhand Transport Corporation) buses or cabs from different major towns in Uttarakhand and also neighboring areas. If you are coming from Delhi, private and government buses are available until Rudrapur and Khatima, after which local buses and cabs are the only choices.

Hotels

Jageshwar has a wide variety of hotels, guest homes, and motels to suit all budgets. Hotels in Jageshwar are few and far from the main town area.

Hotels Price range (in INR) Google Rating
Paradise Hotel 1600-2100 4.1/5
Hotel City Center 3500-4500 4.0/5
Evergreen Motel 6000-7000 4.0/5
Maharani Hotel 2100-2500 4.2/5
Mayank Hotel and Restaurant 2200-2800 3.3/5

Food

The food around the town is usually available at Dhabas and multi-cuisine restaurants. You can, however, enjoy the langars at the Gurudwara, which is totally free and of course delectable.

  • Pizza.
  • Indian food
  • All fast foods
  • Indian desserts
  • Chinese food.

Best Time to Visit

Nanakmatta, Uttarakhand experiences scorching summers, with temperatures reaching 39 degrees Celsius. Winters are cold, with temperatures ranging from 8 to 16 degrees Celsius. If you schedule your visit during the wintertime, bring woolens. Cotton clothing, on the other hand, will suffice in the warm summers.

The best months to visit the city are November-December and February-March. The monsoon period, which lasts from September through October, is characterized by excessive rainfall and, as a result, landslides. Avoid visiting Nanakmatta during summer and monsoon seasons due to harsh climatic conditions.

Conclusion

The calm and mystic ambiance of Nanakmatta enables the visitors to sink into their souls and awaken their spiritual side. The setting will captivate you and leave you desiring more. The Gurudwara and the attractions are great for a spiritual weekend vacation with family and friends.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is famous about Nanakmatta?

Nanakmatta is a prominent Sikh pilgrimage site, as well as a renowned destination for bird watching, sightseeing, and picnicking.

2. What is not so good about Nanakmatta?

The monsoons and summers are not a good time to visit as the scorching sunburns you down and landslides make it difficult to travel.

3. What is the distance between Delhi and Nanakmatta?

The journey between Delhi and Nanakmatta is around 315 kilometers and usually takes around 6 hours to accomplish.

4. What is the previous name of Nanakmatta?

According to local legend, the area was previously known as Gorakh Mata before being renamed Nanakmatta upon the arrival of the Sikh guru.

5. Are there any hotels in Nanakmatta?

Yes, the area has multiple hotels, guest houses, and motels. But along the highway, there are multiple free lodging facilities provided by the Gurudwara committees for travelers.

Lokesh Joshi
Lokesh Joshi
My Name is Lokesh Joshi and I am Computer Science Engineer by the profession and I am passionate about technology and integrating it with innovative ideas to give startups the initial boost that they require.

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