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Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara: History, Geography and Mythology

August 18, 2023

Kartarpur Sahib, a gurudwara founded 497 years ago, sits on the banks of the river Ravi, around 5 kilometers from the Indo-Pakistani border. One of the holiest sites in Sikhism is the place where Guru Nanak was laid to rest. Since Partition severed it from Indian Punjab, however, millions of pilgrims have had to make do with looking at it via binoculars. The Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, however, will welcome pilgrims from all over the world on the 550th anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth.

There will be a samadhi for Guru Nanak Dev at the Kartarpur Sahib, where Sikhs from all over the world can come to pray. The Gurudwara’s reopening is wonderful, but that’s not all that’s happening. Here are some of the reasons why this ancient shrine is so significant to the worldwide Sikh community, as well as instructions for paying your respects there.

Early Sikhism and the Holy City of Kartarpur

The founding guru of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, eventually made his home in Kartarpur after traveling there. In 1522, he convened the local Sikhs and laid the groundwork for the Gurudwara Darbar Sahib.  A shrine honoring his time spent there can be found at the Kartarpur Gurudwara. The founder of Sikhism passed away here in 1539. After Guru Nanak’s birthplace at Gurdwara Janam Asthan in Nankana Sahib, Pakistan, many Sikhs regard Kartarpur as the second holiest shrine.

Kartarpur in the Years Following Partition

Because of the Partition, Indians can no longer visit Kartarpur because it is now in Pakistan. Many people have used the bridge across the Ravi River since 1947 to get across the border and visit the shrine. The Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab, India, is a popular destination for Sikh pilgrims. However, in 1965, a bridge leading to the Kartarpur Gurudwara was destroyed, and in 1986, a fence was built along the border, thereby blocking visitors from reaching the shrine.

Near the Indian border, about 4.5 kilometers from Kartarpur, the Border Security Force allowed pilgrims to go onto a platform about 10 feet tall to get a sight of Guru Nanak Dev’s final resting place. In the summer, believers would line up at the fence to get a glimpse through their telescopes. However, winters were harsh since the fog would prevent them from even making it thus far.

Location Within the First Gurudwara

After being washed away twice by floods, the current Kartarpur temple was constructed in 1925. The grandfather of current Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Raja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, donated 1,35,000 rupees to the rebuilding effort. Some report that during the process of rebuilding the old gurudwara, books, and other items were removed from the building and stored elsewhere. Charlotte Canning, the wife of British Viceroy Lord Canning, provided what little information we have regarding the gurudwara’s possessions. She visited “Khurtarpore” in February of 1860 and included sketches and information about the Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, which was housed in the Gurudwara, in her travel journal. Papers from the period, including those in which Lady Canning included sketches in letters to Queen Victoria, are kept at Harewood House in West Yorkshire, England.

Kartarpur Passage

Indian Sikhs will be able to travel to the last burial place of the first Guru thanks to the completion of the Kartarpur Corridor. Some people have been waiting for this moment since the Declaration of Independence. In 1999, officials started having serious conversations about building a corridor from the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab, India to the Kartarpur Gurudwara. On November 26 of last year, India began constructing the corridor’s foundations. Two days later, Pakistan did the same thing. It was hoped that the building will be ready for the 550th birthday celebrations for Guru Nanak on November 12. The ancient passage will open to the public on both the Indian and Pakistani sides on the 8th and 9th of November, respectively. Hotels, pilgrim housing, and transportation services are all intended to be part of the complex.

Directions to the Holy Temple of Kartarpur Gurudwara

By air: The Kartarpur Corridor Border Terminal is the starting point of the corridor, and it is located 42.7 miles (48.7 kilometers) from Amritsar Airport.

Batala Junction (25 km), Chhina (26 km), and Ramdas (13 km) are the closest train stations to Dera Baba Nanak’s Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) in Gurdaspur, Punjab. Transportation services will be accessible from the Terminal at the Corridor’s entrance. It is possible to walk the entire length of the corridor to the gurudwara.

Visas and Other Paperwork:

On the religious holiday of Guru Purab, Indian Sikhs will just need a government-issued photo ID to enter the 4-kilometer-long corridor leading to the gurudwara. You don’t have a passport. There is a visa issue.

A passport, but not a visa, is required for Indian nationals who are not Sikh. Foreign tourists will need a visa to enter the passageway. Here you can apply to become a visitor.

On the day of Guru Nanak’s birthday, there will be no admission cost, though a little price may be implemented later.

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