Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, is not only loved by Sikhs but also by Muslims and Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib is testament to this.
“Baba ji spent the last 18 years of his life at this gurdwara,” Rafique, a caretaker at the gurdwara told SAMAA Digital.
Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib is situated around 120 kilometers from Lahore and a few kilometers away from Narowal. It was constructed by the Raja of Patiala Bhupinder Singh between 1921 and 1929.
Its white edifice is set against lush green farms and the ‘grave’ is the first thing people see upon entering its premises.
However, this structure is not an actual grave. “The people only found Baba ji’s chador and flowers, and not his body,” Rafique explained. “The grave you see in the veranda was built by the Muslims.”
It is said that the Sikh and Muslim followers of Baba Guru Nanak started fighting over what was left of him. The elders divided the chador and flowers, and two graves were built. The other grave is located inside the walls of the gurdwara.
“Around 100 people, mostly Muslims, come to pay their respects to Baba ji,” Rafique said.
On November 28, 2019 Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the foundation of the Kartarpur Corridor. The 4km-long corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district with Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan. The corridor will provide Indian Sikh pilgrims visa-free access to the shrine.
“We are very satisfied with the step taken by the government,” said the gurdwara’s Jathedar (the prayer leader) Gobin Singh.
The gurdwara was abandoned during the time of Partition, Nisar Ahmed, a villager, said. “It was a jungle before the place was restored 18 years ago in former president Pervez Musharraf’s era.” Members of the Sikh community started coming to the gurdwara to restore it.
The government plans to open Kartarpur Corridor on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November.
The construction has started amid security.
A visitor from Sambaryal praised Imran Khan for opening the gurdwara for Sikh visitors. “India should also take similar steps and allow Pakistani people to freely visit their sacred sites in India.”