Capturing the complete Sikh journey

"You will find some rare photos, as not many people have access to them," says Dr Rishi Singh, author of SIKH HERITAGE: A HISTORY OF VALOUR AND DEVOTION, which displays 229 colour photographs captured by Sondeep Shankar

A Kataar presented by Guru Gobind Singh to Bhai Tirlok and Bhai Rama in Patiala collection at Moti Bagh Palace. Photograph: Sondeep Shankar
By Asia Samachar Team | MALAYSIA |

An avid writer and an accomplished photographer have come together to present what they hope captures the complete journey of the Sikh community.

Sikh Heritage: A History of Valour and Devotion (Roli Books/pp 250/Rs 2,495), a newly released coffee-table book with glossy photographs, throws up some rare photos taken over the years.

“You will find some rare photos, as not many people have access to them,” author Dr Rishi Singh told Asia Samachar. “You will find some amazing photos of the Kapurthala fort. You will also find rare portrait photos of Maharaja Dalip Singh.”

The book carries 229 colour photographs captured by Sondeep Shankar. It also has an index of 64 photographs of the historic gurdwaras.

What did they have in mind when they undertook the assignment for the book?

Dr Rishi said it was to capture the complete journey of the Sikh community from the period of the Gurus to the point where they had leaders living in lavish palaces.

“We forget visiting these places. When we go to Punjab, we go the Harmandir Sahib, but we forget to visit Kapurthala with its massive, beautiful palaces.

“We have Qila Mubarak in Patiala and the grand fort in Bathinda where the tenth Guru went. We need to expose ourselves and our community to these marvels of Sikh architecture,” he said.

The book was released in time for the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak this year.

The book endeavors to contextually depict the various facets of the heritage objects related to the ten Sikh Gurus, the Harmandir Sahib, the Five Takhats and the amazing world of Sikh Maharajas and their Forts and Palaces, not seen before, according to a release from the publisher.

Sharing his journey in the same statement, Sandeep says he had made several visits to Punjab, especially Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib and Harmandir Sahib at Amritsar.

“I felt truly blessed that as more opportunities came my way, I photographed the Sikh community, their festivities, fairs, sports, their manuscripts, the Sikh regiment centre, Sikh relics, forts and palaces and rare relics and artefacts at Toshakhana of Golden Temple.

“Permissions to elaborately photograph the relics came promptly. During my several visits to Punjab, I noticed that the precious heritage of the Sikh community was totally neglected as the owners of this priceless heritage remained naive of its value or lacked understanding of its preservation,” he said.

The book also brings to the front some personal collections in Lahore, Lahore Fort Museum, Faqir Khana Museun in Lahore, Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib in Pakistan.

Most of the photographs were take in the pre-digital photography period, it added.

Dr Rishi read his PhD on South Asian history at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He was instrumental in the execution of under the auspices of the University of Fraser Valley, British Columbia.

Sondeep, a Delhi-based photographer, has been author of several books on diverse subjects. He has one of the largest collections of photographs associated with Sikh faith, covering many decades.

Swords and a Kataar of Guru Gobind Singh in Patiala collection at Moti Bagh Palace. Photograph: Sondeep Shankar


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