Gurdwara Darbar Sahib is at the center of the Kartarpur Corridor that Pakistan magnanimously allowed Indian Sikhs to use, visa-free.
It is truly altruistic on Pakistan’s part to allow Indians to visit their holy sites in Pakistan, when Pakistani Sikhs are not allowed the same into Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur, India.
Which is the holiest site of Sikh?
This Gurdwara– literally meaning “door to the Guru”- is the second holiest shrine for Sikh people in the world.
The holiest of all is Gurdwara Janam Asthan Nankana Sahib, where Guru Nanak Ji was born – which is also in Pakistan.
Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Narowal Pakistan is where Sikhism’s first Guru and founder Baba Guru Nanak settled down in 1504 AD after preaching and traveling for 18 years.
Kartarpur was the name Guru Nanak Sahib gave to this estate, which is located on the bank of the Ravi River.
Here, Baba Guru Nanak mentored his disciples and engaged in farming, and true to his teachings.
Why is Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib significant?
- Guru Nanak passed away here.
- The Japuji Sahib verses of Guru Granth Sahib were also compiled here and
- The tradition of Guru ka Langar
- The core of Sikhism compiled here
Main Pillars of Sikhism
Guru Nanak Ji also created concise instructions for his Sikh followers to
- Kirat Karo (diligently work),
- Naam Japo (stay mindful of the divine),
- Wand Chako (stay altruistic)
These pillars of Sikhism are followed to date.
Baba Guru Nanak strictly preached against discrimination based on racism, deities, castes, and gender, and Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur represents just that.
Kartarpura and Radcliff line between India and Pakistan
Despite being just 4 km from the India Pakistan border, Kartarpura ended up with Pakistan because of the Muslim majority in Narowal District in 1947.
India was granted Gurdaspur instead, which is still contested in Pakistani thought circles.
Guru Nanak’s passing away at Kartarpura
When Guru Nanak passed away in 1539, his body was whisked away by unknown forces (read people) to avoid making his last rites controversial.
Each community was granted a piece of his burial shroud and separate burial arrangements were made by Muslims and the Hindus.
A mausoleum built over his remains by Hindus and Muslims got washed away in the floods of 1922 and the present Gurdwara was constructed in 1925.
Sikh should have stayed with Pakistan and Punjab
Pakistan also has Sikhism’s third most religious site, the Panja Sahib at Hassanabdal, with the handprint of Guru Nanak Ji.
Incidentally, the foundation stone for Golden Temple Amritsar was laid down by Mian Mir of Lahore in 1589, in Guru Arjun’s time not by Guru Nanak.
It was a wrong decision for the Sikh leaders to force their followers to migrate to India and Eastern Punjab in 1947.
Their blunder should not be allowed to perpetuate the agony of Sikh devotees who worship this holy sites in Pakistan.
Pakistan Kartarpur gesture is more than what it can afford
Pakistan built a sprawling complex at Kirtarpur for Sikh pilgrims in the hope that Islam’s message of peace would be accurately conveyed across the smokescreen of dirty politics.
Being an impoverished country itself, such magnanimity deserves praise.
A better tribute to the great thinker of Hindu Muslim unity would have been to launch a high-quality university around the Gurdwara at Kartarpur.
This way people could better grasp the concept of Aik Ong Kar (creator and creation are one)
I hope the Pakistani government does a better job at utilizing the precious funds of the people in promoting the values of
- charity and
- Hard work.
The thousands of unskilled people engaged in this holiest of holy shrines can benefit from the free education and training they receive while working there.
Then, Gurdwara has forests all around them, which I couldn’t see there.
The security checks at the Gurdwara are so strict that it becomes annoying.
I guess it makes sense since you can see the Pakistan-India border from the top of the Gurdwara Durbar Kirtarpur.
The best time to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib
The best time to visit kartarpur is between August to May as the floors become unbearably hot during summers.
Is Kartarpur Corridor open for Indians?
Right now in July 2021, the Kartarpur Corridor is closed from the Indian end because they are still grappling with the Delta Variant of COVID19.
Pakistan has opened the Kartapur Corridor and visit Gurdwara for everyone since June 2021.
How to get to Kartarpur Corridor and Gurdwara
To get to Kartarpur you must
- Fly to Islamabad airport or Lahore Airport.
- Take an Uber to the Daewoo bus terminal.
- Catch a bus to Lahore, drive time is 5 hours.
- Airbnb a room for Rs 5000, minus the food, which you can get everywhere in Lahore.
- Rent a car to drive to Kartarpura from Lahore taking the ring road that will take 2.5 hours and cost Rs 3000.
Kartarpur Corridor Instructions
- Kartarpur Gurdwara timings for entry are from 9 am to 3 pm
- You must show your CNIC and passport if you are a foreigner
- Visa from Non-Indians
- No visa necessary for Indians, and an OCI card will do.
- 20$ fee for everyone, except Pakistanis
- Indians must register here
Map of Kartarpur Corridor
Map of Kartarpur Corridor from Pakistan
- Route to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib is Exit Lahore toward the North on the ring road.
- Drive to Narang Mandi
- Drive further to Narowal main junction
- Drive further to the Kartarpur corridor Gurdwara Complex
You’d be allowed to park your vehicle near the Gurdwara complex and an electric cart will carry you right up to the Gurdwara door.
Just the sight of this massive white marble structure is mesmerizing.
Things to see inside Gurdwara Kartarpur Corridor
Inside you get to see the
- Main Gurdwara
- Khoo Sahib, the original well of Baba Guru Nanak
- Rehat sahib, the ox-drawn well gears
- Place where Baba Sahib was buried
- The location where Baba Guru Nanak is said to have passed away, which is one room of the Gurdwara.
- Gigantic Kirpan (knife) is one major symbol of Sikhism
- Kesh (uncut hair)
- Kanga (comb)
- Kirpan (knife)
- Kacha (cotton undergarments)
- Kara (armor)
- Sarovar sahib, for ablution
- Langar for food, which they serve for free.
- The Souvenir hall that has
- Beautiful paintings and pictures of Gurdwara of Pakistan
- Sikh religious symbols like
- Khanda Sahib
- Mundari (rings)
I bought the Kirpan and the impression of a Sikh on a brass plate.
Hopping over the hot marble floor, I was lucky to be allowed to the inner sanctum of Gurdwara.
Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib
Inside a lady was reading Granth Sahib and a Sikh devotee was cleaning the already immaculate interior.
It would have been better had this marvel of heritage had been restored to its glory by professional archeologists.
In any case, the plaques commemorating Sikh who had donated to the cause were still there on the walls.
Gurdwara Kartarpura Corridor with India is a commendable step taken by Pakistan to ease the angst of the Sikh diaspora in the world and in India, but the reciprocity must come soon. Furthermore, there can be no better tribute to the great man Guru Nanak Ji than developing a university surrounded by a dense jungle of fruit trees.
Isn’t that what Baba Guru Nanak would have wanted for his people of all religions?
Waheguru je ka Khalsa, wahe guru ji ke fateh!