India-Pakistan ‘peace corridor’ opens Sikh temple to tourists

fter more than 70 years, Indian Sikhs will now be able to visit one of the religion’s holiest sites by crossing the international border with Pakistan without a visa.
The Kartarpur Corridor is a 4.1 kilometer (2.5 mile) overland passage that links the Dera Baba Nana shrine in northwest India’s Gurdaspur with the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan.
The Sikh temple — known as a Gurdwara — of Darbar Sahib is believed to be where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, lived and died at the start of the 16th century.
November 9 is a historic moment for many Indian Sikhs as it will be the first time since partition — when British India was divided into the two states of India and Pakistan — that pilgrims have been able to travel between the two temples.
Around 5,000 devotees from India will be able to use the corridor each day.
“For the last 70 years, we have been praying for this,” Manjinder Singh Sirsa, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, who will travel to the site on Saturday with a delegation of about 550 peopletold CNN Travel.
“There cannot be a more joyous moment.”
“There cannot be a more joyous moment.”

The birthplace of Sikhism

Known as “the land of five rivers,” Punjab is where the Sikh religion was founded. The region is now divided between India and Pakistan, with most of the world’s 27 million Sikhs living in India.
Kartarpur, about 118 kilometers (73 miles) from Lahore in Narowal district, lies on the banks of the Ravi River. It’s where Guru Nanak lived for 18 years before he died there in 1539.
Guru Nanek’s philosophy formed the basis of Sikhism, the world’s fifth largest religion,which includes the key tenets of equality and service to others.
“Guru Nanak Dev ji spent most of his life in Kartarpur. His philosophy was developed and disseminated here and the last place he was (before he passed away), was in Kartarpur, so this is the most important place for Sikhs in the world,” explains Sirsa.
Harleen Singh is the founder of “The Lost Heer Project,” documenting the lost women of colonial Punjab. He says that Guru Nanak founded the town in 1515, plowing the fields and setting up an alms house, or langarkhana.
“The world’s first gurdwara was set up there by Nanak as his congregations would gather there from all across Punjab,” said Singh. He “chose his successor (Guru Angad) as the second guru of Sikhism there.”
The changing course of the Ravi River swept up the original village, and the shrine itself has gone through several rebuilds and renovations over the centuries.
A popular legend goes that after Nanak died, there was a dispute between the local Hindus and Muslims. Hindus, who claimed Nanak as their guru, wanted to cremate his body, while Muslims, who saw him as their peer, wanted to bury him.
But the legend follows that Guru Nanak’s body was turned into flowers, which were then divided between the two communities.