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Sikh pilgrims visit the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, near the Indian border, on November 9, 2019. - Hundreds of Indian Sikhs made a historic pilgrimage to Pakistan on November 9, crossing through a white gate to reach one of their religion's holiest sites, after a landmark deal between the two countries separated by the 1947 partition of the subcontinent. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP) — AFP or licensors

In pictures: Pakistan welcomes scores of Sikh pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in landmark ceremony

The opening comes just days ahead of the Guru Nanak's 550th birthday on November 12.
Updated Nov 09, 2019 10:52pm

Hundreds of Indian Sikhs made a historic pilgrimage to Pakistan, crossing through a white gate to reach one of their religion's holiest sites, after a landmark opening of the Kartarpur corridor on Saturday.

Cheering Sikhs walked joyfully along the road from Dera Baba Nanak in India towards the new immigration hall that would allow them to pass through a secure land corridor into Pakistan. Some fathers ran, carrying their children on their shoulders.

Buses were waiting on the Pakistani side to carry them along the corridor to the shrine to Sikhism's founder Guru Nanak, which lies in Kartarpur, a small town just four kilometres (2.5 miles) inside Pakistan where he is believed to have died.

“Generally people say that God is everywhere. But this walk feels like I'm going to directly seek blessings from Guru Nanak,” Surjit Singh Bajwa told AFP as he walked towards the corridor, crying as he spoke.

Pilgrims on both sides of the border hoped the corridor might herald a thaw in South Asian tensions.

Among the first pilgrims was former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who told Pakistani state media that it was a “big moment”.

Many believe it has happened now because of the friendship between Prime Minister Imran Khan, a World Cup winning cricketer-turned politician, and India's Navjot Singh Sidhu — another cricketer-turned-politician.

Many were emotional, some in tears. Others posed for selfies before a giant gold-and silver-coloured kirpan, the dagger which Sikhs must carry with them at all times as an article of their faith.

“Life is short,” said one of the Indian pilgrims, Davinder Singh Wadah. “Everyone has to go... so why not enjoy life and make this world a heaven, and I think this initiative is the beginning of it. “

The opening comes just days ahead of the Guru Nanak's 550th birthday on November 12 — an anniversary of huge significance for the global Sikh community.

Sitting places with pillows are set out for Sikh pilgrims to attend a ceremomy for the inauguration of the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, on Saturday. — AFP
Sitting places with pillows are set out for Sikh pilgrims to attend a ceremomy for the inauguration of the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, on Saturday. — AFP

Sikh pilgrims arrive through the corridor to  visit the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP
Sikh pilgrims arrive through the corridor to visit the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP

Sikh pilgrims arrive to visit the shrine of their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev, at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, on Saturday. — AP
Sikh pilgrims arrive to visit the shrine of their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev, at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, on Saturday. — AP

Sikh pilgrims stand in a queue to visit the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP
Sikh pilgrims stand in a queue to visit the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP

Sikh pilgrims arrive to visit the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP
Sikh pilgrims arrive to visit the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP

Sikh devotees gather to offer prayers towards the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib during the inauguration ceremony in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP
Sikh devotees gather to offer prayers towards the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib during the inauguration ceremony in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP

Security personnel escort Indian politician and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu (L) and Indian Bollywood actor Sunny Deol as they visit the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP
Security personnel escort Indian politician and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu (L) and Indian Bollywood actor Sunny Deol as they visit the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP

Sikh pilgrims point at the inauguration site of the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP
Sikh pilgrims point at the inauguration site of the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP

An Indian Sikh pilgrim offers prayers as he visits the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — Reuters
An Indian Sikh pilgrim offers prayers as he visits the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — Reuters

Sikh pilgrims take part in a religious ritual at the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP
Sikh pilgrims take part in a religious ritual at the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP

Sikh devotees offer prayers as they look towards the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib during the inauguration ceremony in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP
Sikh devotees offer prayers as they look towards the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib during the inauguration ceremony in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP

An Indian Sikh pilgrim holding a sword (as a part of their religious order) sits while visiting the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — Reuters
An Indian Sikh pilgrim holding a sword (as a part of their religious order) sits while visiting the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — Reuters

An army helicopter patrols over the the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP
An army helicopter patrols over the the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP

Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu addresses during the inauguration ceremony of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AP
Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu addresses during the inauguration ceremony of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AP

Prime Minister Imran Khan, centre, claps during the inauguration ceremony of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AP
Prime Minister Imran Khan, centre, claps during the inauguration ceremony of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AP

Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks under a flag showing the Khanda (Sikh emblem) after inaugurating the ceremony in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks under a flag showing the Khanda (Sikh emblem) after inaugurating the ceremony in Kartarpur on Saturday. — AFP

Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses during the inauguration ceremony of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, on Saturday. — AP
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses during the inauguration ceremony of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, on Saturday. — AP

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi greets Navjot Singh Sidhu. — Foreign Office
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi greets Navjot Singh Sidhu. — Foreign Office

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks with former Indian premier Manmohan Singh and Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu. — Foreign Office
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks with former Indian premier Manmohan Singh and Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu. — Foreign Office

Indian Sikh pilgrims take in the view as they visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — Reuters
Indian Sikh pilgrims take in the view as they visit the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on Saturday. — Reuters


Header image: Sikh pilgrims visit the Shrine of Baba Guru Nanak Dev at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan, on Saturday. — AFP