Built to commemorate 300 years of the founding of the ‘Khalsa Panth’ by the 10th Master, Guru Gobind Singh, the ‘Virasat-e-Khalsa’ museum in the Sikh holy town of Anandpur Sahib in Punjab has emerged as the museum with the highest footfall in the country…writes Jaideep Sarin
Just over seven years after it was inaugurated in November 2011, the museum has been seen by over 9.7 million (97 lakh) visitors so far.
On average over 5,000 visitors visit the museum daily, tourism department officials said.
The ‘Limca Book of Records’ recently listed the ‘Virasat-e-Khalsa’ museum as the country’s “top-ranked museum” in terms of number of visitors.
“Virasat-e-Khalsa has added another feather in its cap by becoming the top ranked museum in the country.
Located close to Takht Keshgarh Sahib, the second most important Sikh shrine (after the Golden Temple complex) in Anandpur Sahib, 85 km from Chandigarh, where the Khalsa Panth — a kind of Praetorian Guard — was founded by Guru Gobind Singh on April 13, 1699.
Spread across 6,500-square metres, the ‘Virasat-e-Khalsa’ museum narrates the story of Punjab and Sikhism using hand-crafted artefacts and the latest technology in an interactive manner.
“In 2018, maximum visitors visited it in the past three years. It is a matter of great pride that Virasat-e-Khalsa has attained cult status in the museum world, welcoming more than 5,000 daily visitors,” Punjab Tourism and Cultural Affairs minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said.
Designed by acclaimed Israeli architect Moshe Safdie, an urban planner with a celebrated 50-year career in designing structures worldwide, the museum is a story-telling repository — the first on this scale in the world.
“The museum has been envisioned as the world’s largest cultural and historical museum dedicated to a single community.
“Conceived as two functionally integrated sets of buildings, the Western Complex forming the gateway for the town provides pedestrian access to the Eastern Complex over a 165-metre bridge.
“A series of reflecting pools create an expansive water body between the two complexes with arcaded walkways and gardens on either side,” the Punjab Tourism website states about the monument.
“The museum carries us all along the riveting journey of thriving culture and tradition of 550 years of Sikh history in its 27 galleries,” Sidhu added.
The museum, which is considered visitor-friendly and interactive, is open six days a week (except Mondays) from 10 a.m. to 4.30 pm.
“More than 9.7 million visitors visited museum in a short span of seven years. Prominent among them being the Canadian Prime Minister, President of Mauritius, Governors of various states, Chief Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Member of Parliaments and Ambassadors of various nations.
“All of them have praised the architecture, its use of technology, infrastructure and its standards of maintenance and upkeep,” Punjab’s Secretary, Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Vikas Pratap said.