Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur also called Kartarpur Sahib, is a gurdwara in Kartarpur Narowal District, Pakistan. It is built on the historic site where Guru Nanak settled and assembled the Sikh commune after his missionary travels. The present gurdwara is built on the site where Guru Nanak Dev Ji died on 22 September 1539.
The gurdwara is also notable for its location near the border between Pakistan and India. The shrine is visible from the Indian side of the border. Indian Sikhs gather in large numbers on bluffs to perform darshan, or sacred viewing of the site, from the Indian side of the border.
Location: The Shrine is located by the Ravi River within a distance of four kilometers from the Dera Sahib railway station. The gurdwara is located very close to the border with India.
Shrine: The present building was built in 1925 at a cost of Rs.1,35,600, donated by Sardar Bhupindar Singh, the Maharaja of India. It was repaired by the Government of Pakistan in 1995, and fully restored in 2004, at a significant amount.
Significance: The gurdwara was built to commemorate the site where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism settled after his missionary work. He assembled a Sikh community there, and lived for 18 years until his death in 1539. The gurdwara is built where Guru Nanak is said to have died.
According to Lahore-based art historian Fakr Syed Aijazuddin, the shrine houses the last copies of the original Guru Granth Sahib. A Sikh pilgrim remarked, “Every step here reminds us of the Guru’s life”. Indian Sikhs gather in large numbers on bluffs on the Indian side of the border to obtain darshan, or sacred viewing, of the site.
In May 2017, the US-based NGO “EcoSikh” proposed establishment of a 100-acre “sacred forest” around the shrine.
Proposals for visa-free access: As the shrine lies only 3 kilometers from the border with India, Pakistan in the year 2000 agreed to allow Sikh pilgrims from India to visit the shrine visa-free by constructing a bridge from the border to the shrine.
In May 2017, Indian parliamentary standing committee members announced that no such corridor would be established, given the poor state of India-Pakistan relations. Instead, it was said that the government of India might install four binoculars for viewing the site from Dera Bab situated close to the India–Pakistan border in the Gurdaspur District of the Indian state of Punjab.
Hug diplomacy: In August 2018, Tourism Minister of the Government of Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu was invited to the oath taking ceremony of his friend from cricketing days and newly elected prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. After facing criticism for receiving a hug from General Qmar Javed Bajwa, Chief of the Pakistan Army, Sidhu claimed that Bajwa had assured him of opening the corridor before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nank. The call for a visa-free Kartarpur Sahib corridor is an old, strong, persistent demand from the Sikh community. The move was mooted first during the then Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s bus ride to Lahore in 1999, while Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf approved the idea in 2000, and issued various tenders for construction purposes. India, however, maintained that the two-decade-old request has been lying pending with Pakistan.
The Government of Pakistan in September 2018, unilaterally decided to open the corridor before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nank for visa-free entry of Indian Sikhs from India to Pakistan. The step was welcomed by Sikh community across the world. After the corridor opening was confirmed by Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry, Navjot Singh Sidhu appreciated the friendly gesture of Imran Khan.
The Government of India approved the building and development of Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to International India–Pakistan border. The long awaited Kartarpur Corridor is taking shape and has been termed a “Corridor of Peace.
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