Places of Worship – Kartarpur Sahib
Location: Punjab, Pakistan
Era: 1925 CE
The Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is a Sikh temple and shrine complex in the Punjab province of Pakistan, approximately three kilometres from the Indian border, and adjacent to the Indian town of Dera Baba Nanak on the River Ravi.
The location itself is very significant for the Sikh community as it is where Guru Baba Nanak lived his last 18 years before his death in 1539 CE, after his many travels across the region. He established the town of Kartarpur in 1504 CE and, a few years later, settled there with many of his followers, and thus Kartarpur became the first Sikh centre.
Once there, they established a community kitchen (langar) which provided free meals for anyone without question. Guru Nanak encouraged his followers here to work hard, be charitable and remember God. On his death on 22nd September 1539 CE, there was a disagreement between the Hindus and Muslims on how to bury the guru, since he had a strong relationship with both communities. The Muslims wanted to bury him according to their traditions, whilst his Hindu followers wanted to cremate the body.
The Gurdwara is considered by Sikhs to be one of their holiest sites, alongside the Gurdwara Janam Asthan (Guru Nanak’s birthplace in Nankana Sahib, also in Pakistan) and the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India. It was built in 1925 CE with funds provided by the Maharaja of Patiala, Sardar Bhupindar Singh. At that time, all of the significant places of Sikhism were in India, but after the partition, some of the key sites remained in Pakistan territory. It is also one of the largest gurdwara complexes in the world.
Recently, there have been moves by both Pakistani and Indian authorities to provide a visa-free corridor for thousands of Sikh pilgrims to visit the shrine every day from India. Previously, they would have come to view the shrine from the Indian side of the border.