Not many may know, especially the younger generation, about the significance of Kartarpur, its corridor and a few other most sacred places of the Sikhs in Pakistan.
Kartarpur is in Pakistan – a border town in Distt. Narowal, Punjab, Pakistan while Dera Baba Nanak is in India – a town on the left bank of river Ravi in Gurdaspur district, state of Punjab, India. And the corridor shall connect these two most sacred places of the Sikhs. Baba Guruj Nanak , after touring many places abroad including Makkah settled near village Pakhoken Mehmaran, near Kartarpur where he meditated about the oneness (Tauheed) of Almighty till his last. As he held his communes there preaching the Oneness of Almighty and service to the humanity, the world largest Gurdwra – Darbar Sahib – was constructed at Kartarpur. Now this corridor will enable the religious devotees from India to visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib by traversing only 4.7 kilometres (2.9 miles) from the Pakistan-India border whereas currently the pilgrims from India have to cross the border at Wagah, Lahore to get to Kartarpur entailing a road journey of 125 km, though ironically the people on the Indian side of the border can physically see Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur with their naked eyes or with the binoculars for better viewing.
Baba Guru Nanak founded Kartarpur in 1504 CE and died there on 22 September 1539 at the age of 70. Following his death both Hindus and Muslims claimed him to be their own and the Muslims wanted to burry him while the Hindus cremate him. The sentiment of both were so strong that a scuffle was about to take place when a passerby asked them to show him the face of the dead so that he could see if he was a Muslim or a Hindu. When the shroud was removed, lo and behold, there were no remains of the Guru on the cot. So, as the story goes, the shroud (chaddar) was split into two and the Muslims buried one half while the Hindus cremated the other half. Both Muslims and Hindus raised mausoleums in his memory with a common wall between them.
Another most sacred place for the Sikhs is Nankana Sahib in Distt. Sheikhupura, Pakistan, the birth location of the Sikh faith founder, Baba Guru Nanak. The city is home to numerous gurdwaras including the Gurdwara Janam Asthan, Nankana Sahib, meaning ‘Place of Birth’ and childhood home of Guru Nanak.
The Panja Sahib, Hasanabdal, Pakistan is yet another most sacred place for the Sikhs to visit and pay their homage to Guru Nanak, who stopped a huge falling rock there with his hand and an imprint of his palm and fingers can be seen carved on the rock in Gurdwara Panja Sahib.
Needless to say that the opening of the Kartarpur corridor, apart from winning over the hearts of millions of Sikhs all over the world would also go a long way in promoting the soft image of Pakistan as a true tolerant Islamic state caring for its minorities who are entirely free to practice their faith, religion and rituals in every way and anywhere in Pakistan.