Every shrine in the world, irrespective of religion, has its significance. Devotees from far and wide come and feel peaceful at these shrines, at the doorstep of the Almighty. One such shrine was built in Kenya a century ago.
In the forests on the way from Nairobi to Mombasa, there is a Sikh temple, a gurdwara which has a beautiful and miraculous history. It is one of the most unique outside India, to where a safari, a spiritual safari is a must!
When in the early 20th century Britis took Indians to East Africa to work for the then ongoing construction of the railway line, most of the train drivers were Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims, often joined by the localites. They all would gather together and sing and worship under a tree near a service station in Makindu, where a tin-roof little hut was built by Sikhs and non-Sikhs and the Guru Guru Granth Sahib was housed. But soon, railway moved from Makindu, leaving the gurdwara in care of an African servant, who had no idea of Sikhism. With time, the tiny temple started losing its importance until a miracle happened.
As recorded by Maneesh Media Director, Siddharth Kumawat, on his visit
According to the African caretaker, the gurdwara caught fire, turning everything into ashes except the Guru Granth Sahib. In another incident, a figure on a white horse approached the African caretaker and spoke to him. Asked who the man on the horse was, the African man pointed to a painting of Guru Gobind Singh which was displayed in the gurdwara.
As people learnt about the legend, they gathered at the gurdwara and rebuilt it in 1926. Since then, it has gained popularity and people from around the world visit this sacred shrine. Its complex is large, equipped with facilities for langar around the clock and living accommodation for travellers.
In yet another incident years later, once, a lady who was reading the Guru Granth Sahib in the night witnessed a moving shadow in the flickering light which fell across the pages of the holy book. The figure, she recalled, was of someone doing the chaur over the Sikh scriptures. The figure was, by description, none other than Guru Gobind Singh.
Makindu today is slow and dusty town in the green between Mombasa and Nairobi, the gurudwara has gained international interest. It is a must-halt for weary travellers, where food and accommodation is offered for free. However, more than the free offerings, what welcomes them is the tranquility inside the premises, the calm amid the dancing peacocks, the chirrups of several birds, the lush greens and the pristine grounds. While one may expect Sikhs to be offering seva, there are many Kenyans too.
There is not a single Sikh family living near gurudwara yet the shrine continues to flourish. It is a place for everyone looking for some spiritualism, away from the mundane.
As legends say your wishes come true once you pay homage with the true heart, who knows when Guru Gobind Singh Ji himself comes to bless you with his love!
Do you too know of such an unheard-of Indian heritage or culture away from India? Allow us to feature it and let the world know about it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.