by Zafar Anjum, Editor-in-chief, Kitaab
A Singaporean Sikh’s journey into the lost heritage of his community in Pakistan
“Lost Heritage—The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan” by Singapore-based Amardeep Singh is a travelogue across Pakistan, seven decades after the Partition of India in 1947. In this book, the author shares exploration of the remnants of the Sikh community that once thrived in these lands across West Punjab, North-West Frontier and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. His work covers abandoned, occupied and functional Gurdwaras (Sikh temples), forts, battlegrounds, mansions, art, architecture, spiritual remnants, education institutions, residential and commercial establishments that collectively reflect the erstwhile secularity of the region.
Born on Gorakhpur, India and schooled in the prestigious Doon, first-time author Singh, 49, studied electronics engineering at Manipal Institute of Technology in India, and later on Business Administration at the University of Chicago. For years, he worked in India and Hong Kong. In 2001, his job at American Express brought him to Singapore. Impressed with the Island nation, he opted to become a Singaporean in 2005.
In his late forties, when this father of two children hit mid-life crisis in 2013, he decided to hang his boots to answer his ‘spiritual calling’! The result of that break is a voluminous book “Lost Heritage—The Sikh Legacy in Pakistan”, published by the Nagaara Trust in association with Himalayan Books. It is a tome with 507 pictures and over 55,000 words in text, in 504 pages—a rare work of photography and scholarship that is making waves among those who value such historical and cultural treatises.
Here we present an exclusive interview with Amardeep Singh:
Tell us a little about your background. Your parents migrated from undivided Punjab to Gorakhpur. You were born in that town. How was your childhood? What kind of stories did you hear that had an impact on you?
Impacted by the partition of India in 1947, our families moved from Muzaffarabad (now in Pakistan Administered Kashmir) to Gorakhpur, where I was born in 1966. While majority kept the tragic events of partition to themselves, my parents did not hesitate to share their fond memories of the region. We grew up hearing accounts of how they were affected and uprooted, struggling thereafter as refugees in their endeavor to re-start their lives. Hearing the positive and challenging accounts, left a deep impact, making me curious about the region. I grew up with a dream to once travel across Pakistan to understand the impact of partition cataclysm.