Chandigarh, the city beautiful, is a perfect place for budding cyclists to hone their skills. Well paved roads, separate cycling lanes (sort of), relatively better driving sense (owing to excellent traffic management by cops) and a pleasant weather throughout the year barring the rough patch that lasts from May to July. Unlike Delhi or NCR, the city beautiful doesn’t aid ‘suck-the-blood-outta-your-skin‘ weather and that’s why it is an ideal place for a cyclist.
On top of that, if you’re as interested as I am in the history and rise of Khalsa Panth, nothing better than Chandigarh as your base station. Every major sear of Khalsa History, except for the Harmandir Sahib is within 30-40 km radius of Chandigarh.
So, one February
morning afternoon, we got up and decided to go to Chappar Chiri Museum, which is located on the outskirts of Mohali. We started from Sector 26 and our final destination was almost 30 km from our place. Chandigarh, despite it’s separate cycling lanes, did offer us some resistance while we tried to negotiate through its roads. Probably because of the long weekend ahead, the resistance offered was much more than expected.
After riding for almost an hour we were in Mohali where the wide open lanes constructed by GMADA welcome you. The airport has recently been shifted to Mohali and that’s why Mohali has seen unprecedented growth in terms of road and infrastructure development.
The fateh burj (victory tower) of Chappar Chiri was visible now. All we were supposed to do was to follow the trail leading to the base of fateh burj. We had to leave the main road and within minutes black top road disappeared and we were almost riding in the middle of green fields. Following the stray vehicles, we somehow managed to find not just the tower but a treasure trove of Sikh history.
Fateh Burj is a tall structure constructed to commemorate the first victory of Khalsa Panth. Banda Bahadur led his army, heavily outnumbered yet determined, against Mugal invaders. He defeated Wazir Khan, a loyal vassal of Aurangzeb on May 12, 1710. The battle was fought at Chappar Chidi, where a beautiful memorial stands today.
Guru Gobind met Banda Bahadur, who was living as Bairagi Madho Das, on the banks of Godavari in 1708. The destined meeting changed his heart and Guru Gobind made him the torchbearer of crusade against injustice and tyranny of Mugal invaders. And thus was born Baba Banda Singh Bahadur.
Banda Bahadur was not a religious leader of Sikhs and probably he never pretended to be one ever. He was a brave warrior who sacrificed his all for the Guru and Khalsa.
The museum is located on Banda Bahadur War Memorial Road about 5 km from Mohali. We locked our cycles close to the gate. There is no entrance fee, just a visitor register to give your feedback.
The entrance leads to a sprawling lawn with a towering fateh burj in the background. A 328 feet tall tower, 89 feet taller than the Qutab Minar. There is a pond besides the tower. Sculptures of Banda Bahadur and his commanders are place on large mounds of soil along the periphery of the reservoir.
Instead of a museum, it was planned to have a golf club at Chappar Chidi. You know those big fields where IAS Officers and rich businessmen play with
peoples’ emotionslittle white balls hitting them into the oblivion.
We left the museum by 5 p.m although we wanted to see sodium lamps illuminating them sculptures, which I have heard is an amazing spectacle. However, night riding in Punjab, particularly on a bicycle could be a risky affair.
Suggested Reading: Banda Singh Bahadur: Persian Sources. Download pdf at ResearchGate