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A Bridge of Unity and Spirituality

Prof. Charanjit Singh Shah on the Kartarpur Corridor, Punjab

Dubbed as the "King of Airports in India," Prof. Charanjit Singh Shah's legacy transcends conventional architecture. Over five decades, he has left an indelible mark on India's landscape, from iconic airports to cultural hubs. Shah's accolades, including the 'Jewel of Punjab' and 'Architect of the Year Award,' reflect his transformative influence. His global projects, endorsed by Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi, positions India as an architectural powerhouse. Prof. Shah is an unwavering force, shaping a culturally rich and architecturally splendid future.

Picture from the  restoration of the  Chhatrapati Shivaji  Maharaj Vastu  Sangrahalaya Museum  (CSMVS), Mumbai

The Kartarpur Landport project is a groundbreaking initiative, creating a vital link between nations and fostering cultural and religious harmony. Designed to ease pilgrimage to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan, it transcends boundaries, allowing devotees to visit without a visa. This corridor thus becomes an icon of peace and unity, embodying the shared heritage of the Sikh community.

“The design and construction of the Kartarpur Landport pays heartfelt tribute to the rich religious and cultural significance of this sacred site, rooted in the teachings of Guru Nanakji and the Sikh faith,” Prof. Shah informs. Going beyond physical infrastructure, the corridor represents a shared commitment to religious freedom, peace, and cultural exchange. It's a testament to the transformative power of architecture in promoting harmony even in complex geopolitical contexts.

“The Kartarpur Landport project was a remarkable endeavour, brimming with unique challenges that demanded careful planning and execution. First and foremost, the project had to navigate the delicate diplomatic and geopolitical sensitivities between India and Pakistan. These two nations, with a history of tensions, had to come together for this significant initiative,” says Prof. Shah.

View of the iconic  Royal Bombay Yacht  Club, Mumbai,  restored in 2010

Given the security risks in border areas, stringent protocols were established to safeguard both pilgrims and the facility. Effective communication channels between authorities from both countries played a crucial role in addressing challenges promptly. To formalize the corridor's development, operation, and maintenance, bilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) were crafted. Both nations shared a unified vision of fostering religious tourism, cultural exchange, and peace, laying a robust foundation for cooperative efforts.

The project holds greater value for Prof. Charanjit Singh Shah – given his personal background! Born in 1947 as a refugee in Purana Quila, India, as a result of his family's migration from (what is now) Pakistan – Shah and many members of the Sikh community in India would be thrilled with the creation of the Kartarpur corridor. 

Text : Ar. Swara Ganatra

Images: Courtesy The Architect

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