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San Joaquin's Gurdwara Just Became Fresno County's First Sikh Historical Landmark

Madi Bolanos

A Sikh church in the small town of San Joaquin is now a historical landmark. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors made it official Tuesday. It’s the third Sikh historical landmark in California, but the first in Fresno County. 

The San Joaquin Gurdwara was created in the early 1980s. Members of the Sikh community put together their earnings in order to purchase the building that is now their place of worship. 

"Some of them, in terms of getting money from the bank, took out loans on their own houses to make sure that building is established," Naindeep Singh said. Singh presented the building’s history to the board.

More than a dozen church members attended the meeting. Among them was founding member Gurbinder Dhaliwal. He says creating the church was a necessity back in the '80s when many Sikhs were working in San Joaquin. 

"So everybody was working there and we felt the need so we started gathering. Then we realized there was no Sikh Punjabi church from Stockton to Bakersfield," Dhaliwal said. 

Although there are many more Sikh churches in the Valley now, the San Joaquin Gurdwara is being recognized as the first.


Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.