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Virasat-e-Khalsa:
Khalsa Heritage Museum To Be Inaugurated Nov 25

based on reports by VANDANA SHUKLA & RAJNI SHALEEN CHOPRA

 

 

 

Anandpur Sahib, Punjab

As it awaits to be inaugurated on Friday, November 25, 2011, the Khalsa Heritage Museum - now named the Virasat-e-Khalsa - today provided a spectacular and breathtaking preview.

The Boston-based designer of the complex, architect and urban planner Moshe Safdie, who is known for creating the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, has already arrived for the inauguration and so has Bobby Singh Bedi, the filmmaker who has contributed the audio-visuals. The first phase of the complex has taken 13 years and approximately Rs 3600 million to complete.

The classy complex, which is bound to quickly become an international attraction, has come up in rugged surroundings but water bodies of extraordinary beauty, which reflect the surrounding hillocks, lend the complex an astonishing degree of serenity. Said to be the largest contemporary heritage complex ever conceived on the subcontinent, it provides a delightful audio-visual experience unlike anything one has seen in this country's museums.

What leaves visitors to the Virasat-e-Khalsa impressed - it is spectacular by any account! - is not just the majestic structure which sprawls over the 65-acre complex. 

The complex contains a 400-seat auditorium, double storied library, exhibition galleries, a walk-through ramp, and a series of bodies of water. 

The delightful experience begins at ‘Punj Paani’ - the first gallery depicting the past and the present of Punjab, as seen in its villages and towns. The inside walls of the towering boat-shaped building have multiple colourful panels to create a three-dimensional effect, every inch hand-painted to perfection.

As you walk through the ramp encircling ‘Punj Paani’, you hear the eight-minute track of Jasbir Singh Jassi singing Challa, the quintessential Punjabi folksong interspersed with verses that sing of local festivals, a girl’s doli after marriage, and even of Heer. With vintage phulkari sourced from villages lining the ceiling, you are amazed to see the detailing of the paintings here against a light and sound show.

Move on to sparkling 'Tara Mandal' with its luminous display of ‘Ik Oankar’ and then begin the galleries on the 10 Sikh gurus. The experience is enriched by the auto-trigger audio guides, available in English, Hindi and Punjabi. ‘Auto-trigger’ implies that as you walk into any gallery and the audio guide plays content specific to the area. 

Excellence is discernible as you hear the tracks. The English script has been written by British writer Farrukh Dhondy, and the voiceover is by Kabir Bedi. The Punjabi track is written by celebrated poet Dr. Surjit Singh Patar, with voiceovers by him and actress Divya Dutta.

The Virasat-e-Khalsa features twin buildings rising into the sky - one topped with five crescents and the other with five ‘petals’. Chief Executive Officer of Anandpur Sahib Foundation, Dr Karamjit Singh, said that individually, they depict the significance of ‘five’ in Sikh religion and together, the 10 Sikh Gurus. Through all the 15 galleries ready till now, the metaphorical representation of the gurus is visible. They collectively depict the evolution of the Sikh religion, from the birth of Guru Nanak to the investiture of the Guru Granth Sahib as the community's only spiritual guide and teacher today.

The 'Boat Building' also houses the largest hand-painted mural in the world, which uses a staggering 24,000 metres of fibre optics to illuminate it.

The 15 galleries cover 650,000 square feet. Ten more will be completed subsequently.

Amar Behl has made use of Phulkari, miniature art, puppets from Andhra Pradesh, durris from Mirzapur and embroideries and applique work from Chamba while Bobby Bedi has created the animation films on the birth of Guru Nanak, Harmandar Sahib, and the siege of Anandpur Sahib.

In the ‘Five Crescent Building’, the tone and tenor of the colours and sound becomes more historical and depicts the struggle and sacrifices made by the last five Gurus to establish the Panth.

The second phase of the complex, for which work is still going on, is expected to show the growth of Khalsa over the last 300 years, culminating in the partition of Punjab.

 

[Courtesy: Tribune and Indian Express. Edited for sikhchic.com]

November 24, 2011

 

Conversation about this article

1: Ravinder Singh Khalsa (U.S.A.), November 24, 2011, 9:00 AM.

I wonder if it will cover the events of the Sikh genocide in India in 1984, the decade of disappearances (1984 - 1996) and the continued persecution of Sikhs.

2: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), November 24, 2011, 12:31 PM.

Thank goodness! I have been going to this place since the work started and it has been such an ordeal ... waiting!

3: Harminder Dhillon (London, United Kingdom), November 25, 2011, 3:53 AM.

Fantastic. Sikhism and Punjab needs something like this. Will make a point of visiting this next time I'm in India.

4: Harnoor Gill (Michigan, U.S.A.), November 25, 2011, 4:16 AM.

We are really proud ke Punjan ne apni Virasat sambhaalan vich ik wadmulla yogdan pya a aede naal aon walia generations nu v avde virse wal chalan da msg milda hai.

5: Majinder Singh Sidhu (Vadodara, Gujarat, india), November 25, 2011, 4:25 AM.

Saada itehas hon sari duniya nu pata lagu. Punjab nu mai sari duniya cha baythay ho punjabiya walo badhaee dana haa(n).

6: Jappanjot (Patiala, Punjab), November 26, 2011, 3:02 AM.

A great museum, with our history covering five centuries. Hope all of you will come to see it. Enjoy!

7: Navin Karan Singh (Amritsar, Punjab), December 14, 2011, 12:45 AM.

i like it. So beautiful. Punjabiaa(n) da itehaas hai. Har ek bacche nu pataa hona chahida hai ke saade guruaa(n) ne kee kurbaniyaa(n) kitiyaa(n). Es to(n) sab nu pataa lug jaai ga.

8: Sandeep Singh (Ludhiana, Punjab), November 24, 2013, 1:43 AM.

Love the Jasbir Jassi songs.

9: Harwinder Ghumman (Gurdaspur, Punjab), June 12, 2014, 10:20 PM.

It is a very beautiful place. Unique in the world. You should all come to Anandpur Sahib and check it out.

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