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This village near Lahore serves as a reminder of Sikhism’s diverse past

The village of Dera Chahal, named after a historical gurdwara located in the middle of the village, is being encroached upon from all sides. Located in Pakistan’s Lahore district, on the Bedian Road that once connected Lahore with Amritsar, the village was far removed from bustling Lahore city not that long ago. But the extension of the Defence Housing Authority into the area has seen the city expand onto the agricultural lands of Dera Chahal and other nearby villages, some of which have been in existence for hundreds of years.

This gurdwara is one of the most important Sikh shrines in Pakistan. It stands on the spot where the maternal house of the first Sikh guru, Guru Nanak, once stood. It is believed that Bebe Nanki, his older sister, was born here. This is why the gurdwara is also referred to as Gurdwara Bebe Nanki.

Rising from the middle of the village, the gurdwara’s white dome is visible from afar. Abandoned in 1947, like several other structures, it fell into disrepair. It was renovated on the orders of interim Prime Minister Meraj Khalid in the mid 1990s. Subsequently, the gurdwara was opened up for Sikh pilgrims, many of whom come from India to participate in various religious festivals.

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