Anandpur Sahib (Punjab) : A masterpiece of rich Sikh culture and religious history, the 'Virasat-e-Khalsa' was Friday dedicated to the nation in this Sikh holy city amidst an elaborate religious ceremony here.
The Rs.300 crore project was opened by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in the presence of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari, Art of Living founder Ravi Shankar and others.
Conceived as a repository of the rich heritage of the 'Khalsa', showcasing the history and culture of Punjab, the heritage complex has been built to emphasize the eternal message of the Sikh gurus.
Called the Khalsa Heritage Complex (KHC), it is touted as a landmark monument of one of the youngest religions in the world.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was invited by Badal to inaugurate the monument but the move ran into a controversy after state Congress leaders alleged that the monument had already been inaugurated in 2006 and that the prime minister should not come to re-inaugurate it.
The project, announced in April 1999, was originally expected to be completed by September 2004 to coincide with the celebrations of the 400th year of the Golden Temple.
In December last year, the Punjab government set the "final" deadline for July 30 this year but even that was missed by the authorities.
The monument inaugurated Friday is only the first phase of the whole KHC complex.
Boston-based Israeli-architect Moshe Safdie has designed the complex, which is shaped like open hands offering prayers. The monument is termed as a "wonder in the making".
Being built on a 100-acre site at Anandpur Sahib, 85 km from Chandigarh, KHC stands at a site that is the birthplace of the Khalsa Panth, the present day Sikh religion. The second holiest Sikh shrine, Takht Keshgarh Sahib, is located here.
It was here in 1699, on the day of Baisakhi, that the 10th Sikh master, Guru Gobind Singh, founded the Khalsa Panth and baptized the 'Panj Piaras' (the first five baptized Sikhs known to be the loved ones of the guru).