Faith is a delicate term. For a few, it’s simply a conviction in the higher power and for others it translates into a set of practices and rituals. It is indeed a pleasant feeling visiting a place which encourages both schools of thought.
Makindu Saheb gurudwara (Sikh temple) is one such place. It is situated in the small town of Makindu 170 kms away from Nairobi, on the main highway from Nairobi to Mombasa. This is a beautiful pit stop in the middle of a six-hour journey. It not only relaxes one physically but also mentally.
Origin of this gurudwara can be traced back to early 1900s when the British started work on the Uganda railway project, a gateway to the interiors of East Africa. The town Makindu played an important role as a service station for trains on this long route. The steam engines would stop here to be refueled for timber, wood and water. This small encampment soon became the bustling town of Makindu.
The artisans and train drivers working on this project primarily belonged to the Sikh community. They would gather under a tree and sing praises of their beloved gurus. The non-Sikhs would also join them in the evening prayer. Soon the British government gave permission for a temple to be built at the spot which then went on to be the foundation for Makindu Sahib gurudwara. With the installation of one of the original versions of Guru Granth Sahib (the holy book of the Sikh community), the doors of the new temple were opened in 1926. Starting with a tin roof then, it was overhauled in the 1980s to a concrete structure
In the 1940s, as the steam locomotive gave way to diesel engines, the importance of Makindu as a refueling station declined. Despite a fire outbreak and also an outbreak of a plague of ants to the building, the Guru Granth Sahib remained untouched. This was a divine signal for the elders of the community who then decided to revive the temple. In the 1960s the dedicated Sikh community from Nairobi took over the management and introduced the ʻlangarʼ service (community kitchen).
With ample parking and beautifully maintained gardens, it is indeed an oasis for the weary travelers.
Despite of this being a religious place of worship, what is of relevance is its secular nature. Travelers here are in no compulsion to partake in the religious process but are welcome to use the facilities. People of all religion, race and color are welcome . The community kitchen is operational throughout the day and late I