KARTARPUR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A corridor for Indian Sikh pilgrims traveling to a holy temple in Pakistan will open in November, in time for one of the religion’s most sacred festivals.
The visa-free border crossing from India to Kartarpur, Pakistan will be inaugurated on Nov. 9, just ahead of the 550th birthday of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak on Nov. 12, Pakistani project director Atif Majeed said on Monday.
The project is a rare recent example of cooperation between the nuclear powers, who came close to war in February following a militant attack on police in Indian-controlled Kashmir. India revoked the special status of its portion of the disputed territory last month, inflaming relations once again.
The Sikh minority community in India’s northern state of Punjab and elsewhere has long sought easier access to the temple in Kartarpur, a village just over the border in Muslim-majority Pakistan. The temple marks the site where the guru died.
To get there, travelers currently must first secure hard-to-get visas, travel to Lahore or another major Pakistani city and then drive to the village, which is just 4 km (2-1/2 miles) from the Indian border.
Indian pilgrims will pay Pakistan $20 to use the corridor, which includes roadways, an 800-metre bridge over the Ravi River and an immigration office.
Up to 5,000 Indians will be allowed access daily, with plans to eventually double capacity, Majeed said.
Costs of the corridor were not released.
Many Sikhs see Pakistan as the place where their religion began. Its founder, Guru Nanak, was born in 1469 in a small village near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.
Reporting by Mubasher Bukhari in Kartarpur, Pakistan; Writing by Rod Nickel in Islamabad; Editing by Alex Richardson