PM Modi deserves a big applause for dedicating the Kartarpur corridor to the nation by flagging off the first batch of more than 500 Indian pilgrims. He thanked Pakistan premier Imran Khan for respecting Indian sentiments towards the shrine across the border that marks the final resting place of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev. Kartarpur is held in high esteem by the Sikh community. That is so because Guru Nanak Dev Ji (1469-1539), founder of the Sikh religion, lived there for over 17 years. He gave the name Kartarpur Sahib to the place that became the principal seat of Sikh faith. In 1947, India was divided into two and the Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara went to the Pakistan side of the border. It is said that in the year 1522,the first Gurdwara, of Kartarpur Sahib, was established by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak Dev, where he is believed to have died. In the year 2000, Pakistan agreed to allow Sikh pilgrims from India to visit the shrine visa-free (and without passport) by constructing a bridge from the India side of the border to the shrine.
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur also called Kartarpur Sahib, is a world’s biggest gurdwara in Kartarpur, Pakistan. Modi donning a saffron coloured turban rightly said that besides being a Guru, Guru Nanak Dev is a thought, the basis of life. Our values, culture, thoughts, thinking, upbringing, reasoning, speech, all of these have been honed by pious souls like Guru Nanak. Modi also said that Guru Nanak had demonstrated an ideal way of life. “He prayed, worked hard, and shared the fruits of his labour,’’ he said, adding that the government is holding programmes across the world through its embassies to commemorate Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary.
The gurdwara, originally known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is among the holiest of holy shrines which is believed to be the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh religion. Located on the banks of Ravi river, the Gurdwara was built to commemorate the site where Guru Nanak settled after his missionary work. In India, it is usually referred to as Kartarpur Ravi to distinguish it from the Kartarpur town which falls in Jalandhar district of the Indian Punjab. It is said that over centuries, the river Ravi shifted course and the part of the farm where Guru Nanak passed away in 1539 is on the other side of the river in Pakistan, while Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak is on the Indian side of the border where Guru Nanak used to meditate daily.
There is no doubt that the Kartarpur corridor between India and Pakistan has now greatly reduced the travel risk of Guru Nanak devotees who visit the place where Guru Nanak spent his last days in Pakistan. The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur. Pakistan has agreed to allow 5,000 Sikh pilgrims from India to visit on a daily basis to Darbar Sahib in Narowal through the corridor.
The Indian devotees, especially the Sikhs, were demanding a visa-free “khule darshan” (free obeisance facility) at the gurdwara for all faiths, from India and overseas, all seven days a week by crossing the international border from Dera Baba Nanak town in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. By tradition, the birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev that is celebrated worldwide on the full moon day in the month of Kartik, the eighth month which coincides with October-November.
With the construction of the Kartarpur corridor, the Sikhs living in India would be able to have darshan of the gurdwara and pay their obeisance here. It is every Sikh’s desire is to visit this sacred place and now the pilgrims from both the sides will be benefitted.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)