A special train to ferry pilgrims between the holy sites of Haj pilgrimage made its first run as about 2.5 million Muslims congregated in the Vally of Mina. Mina, a small village about five kilometres east of Mecca comes to life for just five days a year, saw the Holy Sites Train making its first run to ease congestion.
The light-rail system developed at a cost of 6.5 billion Saudi Riyal is to link all major Haj sites to transport pilgrims. The train called 'Mashair' runs between Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat and on its introductory run is only operating at 35 per cent of its full capacity, Saudi officials said.
The train after dropping pilgrims at Arafat will ferry them back to Muzdalifah, halfway between Arafat and Mina, and tomorrow they all head back to Mina, where they stay up to three nights to celebrate Eid Al-Adha.
The Vally of Mina is the first stop on way to the Plains of Arafat from where thousands of white robed pilgrims commence their annual pilgrimage. The climb to Mt Arafat is one cornerstones of the pilgrimage, a must for every able bodied Muslim in his life time.
Mt Arafat is the site from where Prophet Muhammad delivered his farewell sermon. Scores of policemen have been deployed to direct vehicles as pilgrims pour in droves. Over 50,000 security officials have been deployed to oversee the safety and security of pilgrims this Haj.