India Chronicles: Visit to the holy city of Kartarpur Sahib

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By Balwant Sanghera
After clearing the Pakistan immigration and Customs, we were on our way to Lahore. Our friends at the University of Punjab had sent a van to pick us up at the Wagah border. The journey from Wagah to Lahore was about an hour long.
Along the way, we noticed a stark difference between the two Punjabs. The Punjab in India was more prosperous than the Punjab in Pakistan. This was quite evident throughout our stay in Pakistan. Leaving aside the difference in economies of both Punjabs, one thing left a lasting impression upon us.
Regardless of the economic conditions, the people of Pakistani Punjab were very friendly and respectful. We saw few cars along the route but lot more bikes, horse buggies, tangas, rikshaws, three-wheelers and other modes of transportation than in the East Punjab. The traffic in Lahore itself was just like any city like Jalandhar and Ludhiana in India. Soon we arrived at the University of the Punjab where our hosts were eagerly waiting for us. They made us feel very comfortable and welcome.
After checking into our rooms at the university we took a short walk in the spacious green lawns before dinner. Soon it was time for us to retire for the night. Early next morning, after having breakfast we were on our way to Kartarpur Sahib.
This holy city is to the East of Lahore and close to the Indian border. This is the sacred place where Guru Nanak Dev ji, the first Guru of the Sikhs and founder of Sikhism, spent 18 years putting into practice what he was preaching all his life-make an honest living, help others/share and meditate in the name of God Almighty.
Guru ji did his farming at this place in Narowal District of Pakistan. He would work on his farm during the day. In the evening, he would share langar with his well wishers and the congregation and then sing hymns, do kirtan, and pray.
The Pakistan government under then Prime Minister Imran Khan has done an excellent job in making Kartarpur Sahib a very attractive and pleasant place for the pilgrims. This is a great gift to the Sikhs and humanity in general.
It has been reported that Kartarpur Sahib complex, in its present form, was completed in just nine months. From every angle, this place looks marvelous. The well that Guru ji used to irrigate his fields and various other items have been preserved very well. The security around this campus is also commendable. While visiting this holy place we came across a very wide cross section of friendly people from various countries and communities. The volunteers were doing an excellent job in making the visitors feel comfortable.
Visitors from India can visit this special complex from India as well. As a matter of fact, it is only a few kilometers away from Dera Baba Nanak in the Gurdaspur district of India. However, there are only limited hours for them to pay their respects as the complex must close its doors on the Indian side by 4 PM or something like that. However, for the visitors who arrive from the Pakistan side the timing is quite flexible.
Before returning to Lahore, we enjoyed Langar at the spacious Langar Hall and visited the gallery that displays various artifacts and paintings relating to Guru ji’s life and Sikhism. It indeed was a very memorable occasion to walk around on the ground where Guru Nanak ji had spent the last few years of his life.
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist. He has just returned from a trip to India and Pakistan)