Religious Tourism: a cross-border necessity in Jammu and Kashmir

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Religious tourism has become one of the most lucrative travel businesses around the world. Faith tourists are now willing to spend more money to visit holy places locally and abroad than recreational visits. Faith tourists from China, India and South Korea were among the largest group of visitors to Israel in 2018. Similarly, the Kumbh Mela in India attracts over 100 million pilgrims annually. Saudi Arabia welcomes millions of Muslim faith tourists every year and their numbers are ever-increasing.

Religious tourism in Jammu and Kashmir

The divided state of Jammu and Kashmir is one of those places in South Asia that can attract millions of pilgrims of Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist religions.  Pakistan recently opened the Kartarpur corridor in Punjab for Sikh pilgrims from India. Kartarpur Sahib gurdwara in Narowal district of Pakistani Punjab is one of the most sacred places of Sikhs, where Sikhism’s founder Guru Nanak Dev spent the last 18 years of his life.

Over 600 holy places for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists

There are over 600 places of religious importance for followers of Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist religions in Azad Kashmir. Sharda Peeth is a popular Hindu temple in Neelum Valley Azad Kashmir. Historically, the temple was a prominent place in Hinduism.

The campaign to help Indian pilgrims in Azad Kashmir

The Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir has launched a campaign to ease pilgrims from India to visit holy places in Azad Kashmir. This is a welcoming gesture for people of both parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The AJK government has taken the first step in the right direction by asking the federal government’s approval.

The purpose of the request is to start planning to renovate, re-condition and open these places for followers from Indian-administered Kashmir.

The move will strengthen the confidence between the people, and governments of Pakistan and India to resolve conflicts peacefully in the region.