‘An unforgettable tour of Sikh history’: After decade-long wait, Saka Chamkaur theme park set for inauguration

Punjab tourism officials say that even as the project was conceptualised during first tenure of Capt Amarinder Singh as Punjab CM and its foundation stone laid in 2006, it was eventually abandoned midway.

ELEVEN EXQUISITE galleries spread across 14 acres, each displaying a glorious chapter of Sikh history with carefully drafted script and lyrics dedicated to Sikh gurus. The ‘Daastan-e-Shahaadat’ (a saga of sacrifices) — a theme park, museum and heritage street dedicated to martyrs of ‘Saka Chamkaur Sahib’ (the Battle of Chamkaur Sahib, fought with the Mughals in 1704) in which two elder saahibzaade (sons) of Guru Gobind Singh alongwith 40 other Sikhs had died — is all set to be inaugurated by the Punjab government.

Scheduled for inauguration on November 19 (the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak) in Ropar district’s Chamkaur Sahib, the constituency of Punjab Chief Minister and Minister for Tourism and Cultural Affairs Charanjit Singh Channi, the theme park is expected to boost tourism in the town, which people mostly visit to pay obeisance at the Gurdwara Sri Qatalgarh Sahib. The theme park is walking distance from the gurdwara, where the battle took place.

“While now most people who visit the gurdwara are expected to visit and experience the grandeur of the theme park too, we believe the situation will turn around in coming months and it will be the other way around. The theme park, highlighting each aspect of Sikh history, has been built so beautifully that people will come to especially visit the park as word of mouth will spread,” said Bhupinder Singh Channa, executive engineer, Punjab tourism and cultural affairs department. “Through these 11 galleries, visitors will be taken on an unforgettable tour of Sikh history. Though the project is dedicated to ‘Saka Chamkaur’ and Guru Gobind Singh’s two elder sons — Saahibzaadas Ajit Singh and Jujhar Singh — but we have also tried to cover other aspects of Sikh history. From the birth of Guru Nanak to the emergence of Sikh warrior Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, it covers nearly everything.”

Punjab tourism officials say that even as the project was conceptualised during first tenure of Capt Amarinder Singh as Punjab CM and its foundation stone laid in 2006, it was eventually abandoned midway.

“It is only after Charanjit Singh Channi took over as tourism and cultural affairs minister in Captain’s cabinet in 2017 that the project picked up pace again in 2018. He infused life into the project by roping in professional agencies from across the country to work on it. The project has been his baby since then not just because it was in his own constituency but also because he held the tourism and cultural affairs portfolio in Cabinet. Now even after becoming the chief minister, when the project was getting finishing touches, he supervised it till late hours in night. Channi also visited several studios in Delhi and Mumbai to finalise animation, songs, lyrics and other musical aspects,” said an official from the tourism department.

Unique exhibits
Close to Rs 50 crore spent on the park in the past four years, many unique exhibits related to Sikh history have been put on display.

Two steel swords with brass handles, weighing 3 metric tonnes each, five sculpture pieces of Sikh warriors mounted on horses weighing 1,000 kg each (made in bronze) and a ‘khanda’ (symbol of Sikh faith) made in stainless steel and weighing 8 metric tonnes, are some of the unique exhibits. “It is probably the only theme park in Punjab where a ‘khanda’ this heavy has been installed,” said Channa.
While the script of the entire audio-visual programme has been written by eminent poet Dr Surjit Patar, singers who have lend their voices for musical rendition include Sukhwinder Singh, Kailash Kher, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Harshdeep Kaur, Jaspinder Narula, late Diljaan among others.

The eleven galleries

Gallery 1: Introduction by poet Jogi Allah Yar Khan, ‘the Dome Projection’ show in this gallery focuses on the life and values of the Sikh Gurus — from the birth of Guru Nanak to martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur

Gallery 2: A set-based show throws light on journey of Bhai Jaita while he carries the head of Guru Teg Bahadur from Delhi to Anandpur Sahib

Gallery 3: A 270-degree mapping show encapsulating Guru Gobind Singh from the time of his Guruship till he encounters Mughals and fights against forced conversions to protect his Sikh identity and faith. It covers the birth of Khalsa and that of his four saahibzaadas (sons) and ends in sadness with ‘Parivaar Vichoda’ (when Guru’s family was separated from each other)

Gallery 4: A 360-degree show showing the extraordinary battle of Chamkaur fought between a Mughal army of lakhs and Guru Gobind Singh’s army of 42 Sikhs including his two elder sons. Sikhs ultimately attained martyrdom but battled hard

Gallery 5: Set-based show takes story ahead covering Mata Gujri (mother of Guru Gobind Singh) and two Chhote Saahibzade (younger sons Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh) being taken to Khedi by Gangu Pandit

Gallery 6: Glass-based holographic projection in which Sirhind episode comes alive- Chhote Saahibzaade are executed by Mughals and Mata Gujri also dies. Panoramic background screen captures streets of Sirhind, the Thanda Burj (where both children and their grandmother were kept by Mughals out in the open in harsh December winter) and the court of Mughal emperor Wazir Khan

Gallery 7: Story returns to Guru Gobind Singh spending nights in the jungles of Machhiwara (now in Ludhiana district). Set-based gallery with embroidered fabric panels

Gallery 8: Guru Gobind Singh’s journey via Raikot, Machhiwara, Muktsar, Damdama Sahib, Agra to Nanded

Gallery 9: A panoramic show depicting the final episode of Guru Gobind Singh’s life at Nanded where Madho Das transforms into Baba Banda Singh Bahadur after meeting him and leaves for Punjab. It also shows the creation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal Guru

Gallery 10: A walk-through gallery with life-size recreation of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s followers from Nanded to Punjab

Gallery 11: Grand finale of the museum plays on a large panoramic screen. A dramatic battle between the highly organized Mughal Army and Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s Khalsa Army, slaying of Wazir Khan, justice for Guru Gobind Singh and those who died in the battle to protect their Sikh identity

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