LAHORE (Dunya News) – The historic inauguration of Kartarpur Corridor is all set to take place on November 9, - three days before the 550th birth anniversary Baba Guru Nanak to be celebrated on Nov. 12 – the first visa-free corridor between Pakistan and India since their independence in 1947.
Sikh pilgrims need to follow these steps in order to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan. Sikh from India has to apply online before coming to Pakistan.
Apply Here: Prakashpurb55.mha.gov.in (Link accesible only in India)
Indian travelers will first reach Guru Nanak Dev Ji Marg where their permit will be verified. Indian Sikhs will travel through a 3.6km long route after the approval from Indian authorities. There will be integrated check post on both sides for document verification and security check.
India will check the permit and valid documents before sending the yatris (pilgrims) to Pakistan.
Pakistan accepted India’s demand of facilitating visa-free movement of 5,000 Sikh pilgrims per day, and now they will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur. However, the government of Pakistan will charge $20 per pilgrim per visit as service charges.”
In a short span of one year, Pakistan has completed the construction, signed an agreement with India after tough negotiations and gifted the Kartarpur Corridor to Sikh community for promoting religious harmony.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a message shared on social media, reiterated that Sikhs from all countries will travel to the world‘s largest Gurdwara. “This Gurdwara will strengthen local economy […] many jobs will also be created in travelling, religious tourism and hospitality sectors,” he stated. “Buddhists have also been coming to visit different religious spots in Pakistan.”
Navjot Singh Sidhu thanked Pakistan government, especially Prime Minister Imran Khan, for opening the corridor on the 550th Birth Anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Devji.
A 52,000 sft covered area purpose made building to cater for speedy facilitation of pilgrims is being constructed. It has 76 counters with facility for additional 50 counters to cater for additional need during special days.
Pilgrims will have a choice to visit Gurdwara on foot or on transport provided by Government of Pakistan (buses and electric carts).
Government of Pakistan has acquired over 400 acres land for the establishment of Gurdwara Complex. Master plan of the Gurdwara Complex has been developed keeping in view the present and future requirements.
A flood protection dyke is constructed around Gurdwara to protect it from floods. 148 acres of land is kept for Gurdwara and allied facilities whereas rest is kept for future residential and other needs.
In phase one, main Gurdwara complex is extended 10 times from 4 to 42 acres including:-.
10 acres (660 ft x 660 ft) of courtyard around existing main Gurdwara building.
152,000 sft of Baradari around the Gurdwara is being constructed having darshan deories, sarovar, devan asthan, amenities and 20 dormitories to host more than 500 pilgrims.
A purpose built Langar Hall over 28,190 sft with capacity of serving over 2000 pilgrims at one time.
An elaborate Mehmaan Khana over 115,880 sft area is being constructed having 20 dormitories and 40 family rooms with all facilities to host over 700 pilgrims intending night stay at Kartarpur.
26 acres land with additional 36 acres is designated as Kheti sahib where cultivation of crops on the land tilled by Guru Nanak will be done and served in Langar khana of Gurdwara for the pilgrims.
During Phase two, futuristic expansions will be carried out as per requirement and to host more than 10,000 pilgrims.
A dedicated tent village is being constructed to host and facilitate around 10,000 pilgrims during 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November 2019.
For the facilitation of Yatris a dedicated medical emergency center, and kiosk area is also being developed.
Dedicated security arrangements has been made to ensure safe, secure and hassle free visit of pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur,
The shrine is about 4 km (2-1/2 miles) from the border. The crossing and corridor - including a road, bridge over the Ravi River and immigration office - will replace a drawn-out visa process and circuitous journey through Pakistan.
Kartarpur Corridor for Sikhs across the world is one of the holiest shrines. It is the same place where Sikh religious leader Guru Nanak spent days leading up to his death. It is the place where Guru Nanak after a long pilgrimage of almost three decades finally decided to settle. It is believed that Guru Nanak spent his last years in Kartarpur farming and spreading the message of peace.
Guru Nanak lived at Kartarpur Ravi for over 17 years and this place became the principal seat of Sikh faith.
Kartarpur Corridor has been welcomed enthusiastically by the Sikh community, and also represents a rare instance of co-operation between the two countries, which have fought three wars against each other since independence.
Relations between India and Pakistan remain strained, but at a ceremony formally starting construction work on the pathway on the Pakistani side of the border, the country’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said: "We will only progress when we free ourselves from the chains of the past".
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi expressed that the Kartarpur project would help improve the countries’ relationship.
"The more people meet, the more they realise how much in common we have and what we are missing by not resolving our outstanding issues." he said.
The first-of-its-kind agreement aims to facilitate Sikh pilgrims from India in visiting the shrine of Baba Guru Nanak – one of Sikhism’s holiest sites in Pakistan where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, died in the 16th Century – in Kartarpur, Pakistan without obtaining any visa but a permit with a validity of one day from dawn till dusk.
According to the agreement, “The government of Pakistan will charge USD 20 per pilgrim per visit as service charges.”
“5,000 pilgrims shall be permitted to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib through the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor on any given day, with an additional provision for more pilgrims on special days including Gurpurab, Baisakhi, etc., subject to capacity.”
This means that the service charges of $20 will generate revenue for Pakistan and promote tourism from visitors and pilgrims from other countries as well.
by Shaheer Shaz