Original Sikh Gurdwara, home to the local Indian community
Home for the Sikh community
This building may not look like a temple, but this two-storey wooden house is the home of the Sikh community in Kalaw. Upstairs is a shrine and prayer hall, below is a converted space where a few tailors now work on their Singer sewing machines making women’s shirts and longyis. Many Sikh families moved to Kalaw during the colonial years and worked on the Burma railway. “During my parents’ time there were about 60 Sikh families and the community had regular celebrations for weddings or naming ceremonies when a new baby was born” says Harri Singh one of the three Sikh brother who run Jungle Trek Tour Agency. Under the military regime Kalaw changes: “In 1962 under a policy of nationalisation led by General Ne Win, many families started to leave back to India. It was a hard time for minorities, they had their property and houses taken.”
Made of steel
Harri’s great-grandfather, Mr Puran, won the contract to build the train stations and railway tracks from Kyauk Shauk all the way to Thazi in Central Myanmar, close to Naypidaw. “Whatever steel was left over from building the tunnels was then used to build the Sikh temple in Kalaw. When I see the train tracks and railway station, I feel so proud, it’s the connection to my family” says Harri.