Pakistan issues visas to Indian yatrees to visit Shadani Darbar, Katas Raj temples
Pakistan has issued visas to more than 90 Indians to visit two prominent Hindu temples in December against the backdrop of ties between the two countries being at an all-time low.
The Pakistan High Commission issued visas to a group of 47 Indian yatrees or pilgrims on Monday to visit Katas Raj temple, also known as Qila Katas, in Chakwal district of Punjab during December 23-20.
The Katas Raj temple is surrounded by a pond considered sacred by Hindus.
Another group of 44 Indian yatrees returned from Pakistan on Monday after participating in celebrations marking the 312th birth anniversary of Shiv Avtari Satguru Sant Shadaram Sahib at Sukkur in Sindh province during December 15-21, the high commission said in a statement.
Shadani Darbar in Sukkur, a temple that is more than three centuries old, is visited by devotees from around the world. The temple was founded in 1786 by Sant Shadaram Sahib, who was born in Lahore in 1708.
Indian Sikh and Hindu pilgrims visit Pakistan under the bilateral Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974 to participate in religious festivals and events every year, though the numbers have declined amid strains in the relationship.
“The issuance of pilgrimage visas to Sikh and Hindu pilgrims is part of the government of Pakistan’s endeavours to facilitate their visits to religious shrines. Pakistan remains committed to preserving sacred religious places and extending all possible facilitation for the visiting pilgrims of all faiths,” the statement said.
The Kartarpur Corridor, which allows Indian nationals to make visa-free visits to the gurdwara built at the site in Pakistan where Guru Nanak spent the final years of his life, was closed after the Covid-19 outbreak and is yet to be reopened.