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Wagah border check post set for a facelift; to seat more than 13,000 visitors

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

The viewers’ gallery at the famous Wagah border in Punjab will be increasing its seating capacity soon. The numbers of seats will rise from the present 5,000 to 13,525.

In the first phase of the project a new gallery, museum, exhibition space cum souvenir shop, 20 bedded room lounge, 31 seater conference hall, dining hall with kitchen, 11 rooms and a barrack for guards will be constructed. The CPWD has been sanctioned Rs 24 crore for the same.

In the later phase, cafeteria, musical fountain, statue area, covered waiting area for visitors, toilet blocks, visitors parking and landscaping besides four lifts in the gallery will be built.

The work will be taken in parts so that sufficient space will be available for the visitors during all stages of construction for watching the sun set view.

The foundation stone for the new gallery was laid by Home Minister Rajnath Singh in the presence of Chief Minister of Punjab Parkash Singh Badal on March 22, 2015.

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Pakistan, India to Allow Sikh Pilgrims Visa-Free Access to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur

Pakistan and India agreed late last year to open the Kartarpur corridor, which will lead from the Indian border straight to the temple, with sides fenced off

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FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2018 file photo, Indian Sikh pilgrims visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the shrine of their spiritual leader Guru Nanak Dev in Kartarpur, Pakistan. VOA

Pakistan and India have agreed to “expeditiously” work out issues related to a new border crossing that would allow Sikh pilgrims visa-free access to one of their holiest temples in Pakistan.

High-level delegations from the two nuclear-armed rival countries met Sunday on the Pakistani side of the Wagah border checkpoint to discuss what is named the “Kartarpur Corridor.”   The number and safety of pilgrims as well as infrastructure were among the issues on the agenda.

The temple, known as Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, is one of the holiest sites in Sikhism and it is believed to have been built on the final resting place of Guru Nanak, the founder of the religion, who died in the 16th Century.

The chief of the Pakistani delegation told a post-meeting news conference that both sides have resolved most of the issues and another meeting would be required before a final agreement is reached.

gurudwara darbar sahib, sikh pilgrimages
Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal, center, briefs the media before the meeting with Indian officials at Wagah border, near Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, July 14, 2019.

“We had in-depth and productive discussions on the proposed draft agreement and agreed to expeditiously finalize the modalities for operationalizing the Kartarpur Corridor in time for the 550 the anniversary celebrations,” Mohammad Faisal said.

India and Pakistan are aiming to make the corridor operational by November, ahead of the commemoration of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

India’s Sikh minority community has long sought easier access to the temple in Kartarpur. Currently, pilgrims must must first secure visas, travel to the eastern city of Lahore or other major Pakistani destinations before driving to Kartarpur. Political tensions between India and Pakistan often make it difficult for citizens of both the countries to secure timely visas.

sikh pilgrimages, gurudwara darbar sahib
Indian officials from Ministry for External Affairs arrive after crossing the border for a meeting with Pakistani officials at Wagah border, near Lahore, Pakistan, July 14, 2019. VOA

Pakistan and India agreed late last year to open the Kartarpur corridor, which will lead from the Indian border straight to the temple, with sides fenced off.

The progress toward opening the new border crossing later this year marks a rare instance of cooperation between the two countries, which have fought three wars against each other and came close to a fourth one in February this year.

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Most of the conflicts stemmed from the divided Kashmir region, claimed by both sides in its entirety, and it continues to be the primary source of regional tensions. (VOA)