Nankana Sahib is a city and capital of Nankana Sahib District in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It is named after the first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak, who was born in the city and first began preaching here. Today it is a city of high historic and religious value and a popular pilgrimage site for Sikhs from all over the world. It is located about 91 km (57 mi) west of Lahore and about 75 km (47 mi) east of Faisalabad. The city has a population of approximately 70,000.
The township was founded by Rai Bhoi, a rich landlord Rajput Muslim and thus was known as Rai-Bhoi-Di-Talwandi. His great-grand son Rai Bular Bhatti, renamed it as ‘Nankana Sahib’ after the birth of Guru Nanak. The Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, originally constructed in around 1600 CE was renovated in 1819–20 CE by Gian-Punjab Maharaja Jassa Singh Ramgarhia The Sikh Conference of Panjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Peshawar, Kangra and Hazara.
During the Akali movement, on 20 February 1921, Narain Das, the Udasi mahant (clergy) of the gurdwara at Nankana Sahib, ordered his men to fire on Akali protesters, leading to the Nankana massacre. The firing was widely condemned, and an agitation was launched until the control of this historic Janam Asthan Gurdwara was restored to the Sikhs. Again in the 1930s and 40’s the Sikhs added more buildings and more architectural design.
Migration between India and Pakistan was continuous before independence. By the 1940s Western Punjab was predominantly Muslim and supported the Muslim League and Pakistan Movement. After independence in August 1947, the minority Sikhs and Hindus migrated to India while the Muslim refugees from India settled in the Western Punjab and across Pakistan.
Nankana Sahib and it surroundings were formerly a tehsil of Sheikhupura District. In May 2005, the provincial government raised the status of Nankana Sahib to a district as a way of promoting development in the area. The present status is District Nankana Sahib has three tehsils: Nankana Sahib, Shah Kot, and Sangla Hill. Before December 2008, District Nankana Sahib also included Safdarabad Tehsil.
There are plans to construct a 100 acres (40 ha) university as well as hospitals and health care facilities by the district government with mutual interest of local communities and family of Rai Bular.
In 2007, the Pakistan government announced a plan to set up a university on Sikh religion and culture at Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak. Chairman of Pakistan’s Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), Gen (R) Zulfikar Ali Khan, said that “The international Guru Nanak University planned at Nankana Sahib would have the best architecture, curricula and research centre on Sikh religion and culture”, .
Gurdwara Janam Asthan also referred to as Gurdwara Nankana Sahib, is a highly revered gurdwara that was built at the site where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, was believed to be born.
Gurdwara Janam Asthan is believed to be located at the site where Guru Nanak was born to Mehta Kalu and Mata Tripta.
The gurdwara forms part of an ensemble of nine important gurdwaras in Nankana Sahib. The shrine is frequently visited by Sikh yatris as part of a pilgrimage route in Pakistan.
The first gurdwara is believed to have been built at the site in the 16th century by the grandson of Guru Nanak, Baba Dharam Chand. The current gurdwara was built by Ranjit Singh in the 19th century.