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500 Sikh pilgrims cross Pakistan for Guru Nanak Dev's 550th birth celebrations

Sikh Pilgrims gather around the Palki Sahib on the occasion of the 549th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in Nankana Sahib, a district in the Punjab province of Lahore.(File Photo) Photograph:( AFP )

ANI New Delhi, India Jul 30, 2019, 05.56 PM (IST)

A special 'jatha' of around 500 Sikh pilgrims crossed over to Pakistan for Nankana Sahib on Tuesday to begin celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev from his birthplace on August 1.

The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi issued visas to the pilgrims who are partaking in the special 'jatha'.

"These visas have been granted over and above the issuance of thousands of visas every year under the framework of Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974," the high commission said in a statement.

"Government of Pakistan also believes in the policy of promoting visits to religious shrines and people-to-people contacts between Pakistan and India," it said.

On July 14, India and Pakistan had held the second round of bilateral talks to narrow down their differences on the corridor for travel of Sikh pilgrims from Dera Baba Nanak Sahib in Punjab to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan.

Both sides said that they had agreed to a majority of modalities for the smooth passage of the pilgrims.

Once opened, the three-kilometres corridor will allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak Dev passed away in 1539.

The route is expected to be completed by September-end. 

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Once opened, the three-kilometres corridor will allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak Dev passed away in 1539.