New Delhi: Located in Pakistani Punjab’s Narowal district, Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is built on the historic site where Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten Sikh Gurus, settled and assembled a Sikh community after his missionary travels. The gurdwara is built where Guru Nanak is said to have died.

The shrine, considered to be the first gurdwara ever built, is located by the river Ravi at the border of India and Pakistan. It is visible from the Indian side as the Pakistani authorities often trim the grass that obstructs the view. This attracts a lot of Indian pilgrims who gather in large numbers with binoculars for a glimpse of the holy site.

The gurdwara was opened to pilgrims after restoration in 1999. In February 1999, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a bus trip to Lahore and hugged his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif leaving an endearing image that symbolised hope in bilateral ties. There were no restrictions on visiting the gurdwara once a pilgrim has entered Pakistan on a valid visa.

The same year a proposal was raised to construct a fenced corridor between the Indian side and the gurdwara for free access to the shrine for devotees without the requirement of a passport or a visa. Pakistan agreed to the proposal in 2000 but the project never saw the light of the day.