In the closing years of the seventeenth century, the sixteen year old Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh came to the princely state of Sirmaur on the invitation of its ruler, Maidni Prakash. After surveying the area, the Guru decided to camp by the river Yamuna and his four-year sojourn became the foundations for the town of Paonta Sahib. ‘Paonta’ means “a space (or place) for a foothold”. In the past few decades, the area around Paonta Sahib has also developed a substantial industrial base. The historic Gurudwara of Paonta Sahib is barely a couple of hundred years from the bank of River Yamuna.
Height: 350 m
Climate: Hot in summer and cottons are suggested. It is mild to cold in winter when woollens are required.
Getting There & Away: How to reach Paonta Sahib
Rail: Ambala railway station is at a distance of 93 kms (via Nahan), the one at Dehradun is 44 kms away.
Air: Chandigarh airport is at a distance of 148 kms and Dehradun airport is 44 kms away.
Tourist Attractions in Paonta Sahib
Gurudwara Paonta Sahib whose premises also have the Sri Talab Asthan where Guru Gobind Singh disbursed salaries, the Sri Dastar Asthan where he judged turban tying competitions and the Kavi Darbar where poetry was recited. There is a memorial to the sage Kalpi and a small museum where the Guru’s pens and weapons are displayed among other artefacts.
The Yamuna Mandir is dedicated to the goddess Yamuna and lies immediately below the Paonta Sahib Gurudwara by the banks of the river Yamuna.
Gurudwara Bhangani Sahib (23 kms) is the site of the Guru’s first battle.
Gurudwara Tirgadi Sahib (2 kms from Bhangani Sahib) is the spot where Guru Gobind Singh shot his famed gold-tipped arrows.
Gurudwara Shergah Sahib marks the spot where the Guru beheaded a man-eating tiger with a single sword blow.
The Shiva Temple at Patlian (5 kms) has a linga which is supposed to be growing in size.
The shrine of Baba Garib Nath (8 kms) is finally accessed by a walk of about a kilometre through a forest of sal trees and is especially revered by childless women. There is a good view of the area from the top.
The Ram Temple near the bridge over the river Yamuna has some fine marble work. Built in 1889, this is also called the ‘Shri Dei Ji Sahiba Mandir’ and was built in the memory of Raja Partap Chand of Kangra whose wife belonged to Sirmaur. The Gurudwara Kirpal Das lies by the temple.
The Asan Barrage on the river Yamuna offers water sports.
The ‘Mazhaar’ of Bhure Shah lies on a hill across the river Yamuna and no pilgrimage to Paonta Sahib is regarded to be complete without a visit to the grave of this contemporary of Guru Gobind Singh.
Simbalwara Wildlife Sanctuary lies 12 kms off the main Nahan – Paonta Sahib road and is a thick scrub and sal forest known for a variety of bird life and deer.
Sirmaur (16 kms) holds the remains of the one-time capital of the area which was said to have been destroyed by a flood in the eleventh century when a dancing girl cursed it.
The Nagnauna Temple (16 kms) lies in a hollow near the village of Puruwala and has some remains of excellent marble carvings. This is closely allied with the legends associated with Sirmaur’s former rulling house.
The temple of Katasan Devi (30 kms) lies on the Nahan-Paonta Sahib highway and marks the spot where the armies of Sirmaur defeated the invading forces led by the adventurer Ghulam Qadir Khan Rohilla.
Nahan (40 kms) is the present day district headquarters of Sirmaur and is built over low rolling hills whose roads form a series of interlocking circles. The town was founded by Raja Karan Prakash in 1621. Today, this has some fine walks and parks and numerous examples of architecture including palaces and temples.
Saketi Fossil Park (60 kms) covers a wide area and is the site of the largest fossil found in the Shiwalik hills and the park has life size models of various animals that once roamed these tracts and a museum.
The temple of Balasundari at Trilokpur (63 kms) is a popular shrine.