Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara – As of November 2018 in all its simple originality
Kartarpur Sahib, Punjab, Pakistan in the last 100 days has seen the entire landscape change overnight with the 24/7 construction activity going on, all based on the master plan that the Pakistan government has promised to implement as part of the ‘Kartarpur Corridor’ agreement with its neighbor on the East.
The American Sikh Council (ASC) has repeatedly written to the Pakistani authorities regarding ‘no new construction’ around the current complex and the preservation of 104 acres of Baba Nanak’s fields in Kartarpur in its entirety.
As of March 16, 2019 the most recent construction work update shows that all fields and orchards immediately around the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib building have been completely bulldozed, flattened and foundations are being laid to construct new buildings and a sarovar (pond) in the extended complex. Further, the plans show parks, hotels, retail and other commercial buildings right where the fields of Baba Nanak existed. This is completely unacceptable to millions of Sikhs worldwide.
The entire sanctity and serenity of the Kartarpur village as Guru Nanak envisioned and established is being destroyed before our eyes in the name of religious tourism. We are at a complete loss as to why a 500 year old religious site of a living faith cannot be kept in its original form, without compromising on its heritage value while allowing for more visitors at the same time.
Kartarpur was established by Guru Nanak himself as a living center of faith, shared labor and ecology. His 104 acre fields where he farmed and the forests surrounding them are sacred to over 40 million lovers of Baba Nanak in the world, both Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike.
Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara – as of January 2019
We want our next generations to come and experience the sacred land the way their founding prophet established it — where he tilled the soil and showed us the path of honest labor – in its pure simplicity and authenticity. Any compromise on preserving the whole 104 acres of fields and the surrounding forests where our great Guru-Prophet breathed, walked and worked for eighteen long years while spreading the message of love and universal brotherhood is hurtful to our sentiments, and is tantamount to destroying the legacy and history of the holy land for all times to come.
The American Sikh Council (ASC) humbly request that all current construction surrounding the current Gurdwara Sahib be stopped immediately and all new facilities be planned outside and as far away as possible, from the 104 acres fields surrounding the current gurdwara complex so that the authenticity and spiritual heritage of Kartarpur Sahib is not destroyed.
We are aware of the concerned authorities, saving 30 acres out of the 104 acres for green space but this is grossly inadequate and an irreversible damage to the look and feel of the sacred site; since construction around the current complex in rest of the fields are still going on in full swing.
For the last four months, the issue of preservation of sanctity of the fields of Baba Nanak and the environment around the Gurdwara complex has been discussed at large in the Diaspora — on radio, TV, and Social Media and a big resounding voice in the Diaspora echoes the same concern as the American Sikh Council, and we feel helpless and frustrated that our voices and sentiments have been completely disregarded in the rush of planning the corridor, in order to complete it at a self-appointed date.
We are not against building facilities to accommodate the many visitors that the corridor and the religious tourism you are inviting, will bring in. We are simply and strongly against this being done at the cost of heritage destruction. There is no reason that both the spiritual heritage and tourism cannot be accommodated if you put good planning to work. Further suggestions as to what the Diaspora Sikhs are requesting, have been sent in detail to all the concerned authorities repeatedly.
Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara – the master plan under construction as of April 2019
The above entire complex is the white square in the photo below
The majority of the Sikhs in the Diaspora will not be interested in visiting Pakistan, if a modern replica of the marbleized Gurdwara(s) were to replace the actual heritage in Kartarpur Sahib and other sites throughout the country. As far as accommodating visitors – we would be more interested in living among the locals through ‘Airbnb’ style setups than staying at modern luxury hotels. How else can Sikhs become friends with the local population until we can sit and eat with them in a ‘normal’ setting and not simply fly in and out as though we are visiting a tourist spot?
Pakistan needs to be on the cutting edge of ‘heritage preservation’ without any destruction and can make Sikh religious tourism financially more viable this way while being a shining example to the world.
In the last 90 days well-wishers of the ‘panth’ have started an online petition, which has already garnered over 17,000 signatures but we have to continue to get as many more as possible.
Sikhs everywhere can do the following:
- Keep up the support going by signing the above petition.
- Have every organization across the diaspora send a request to the Prime Minister of Pakistan via registered letter(s) – His Excellency Imran Khan, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Islamabad, Pakistan, and the email is email@example.com . The petition contains the overall suggestions that can be used to send the letter(s).
Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara complex – latest updated overall design as of March 10, 2019
The tiny square black dot on the lower left inside the large white square is the actual gurdwara
The American Sikh Council (ASC) again thanks the Prime Minister Khan and his government for his foresight and planning this unique peacebuilding concept with Sikhs and others.
The American Sikh Council (ASC) strongly supports every effort to maintain and preserve the original integrity of all the nearly 200 historic Gurdwaras, across Pakistan but especially the Kartapur Sahib complex.