A Historical Journey by Foot to Mecca Toppled by Pakistan
In Islamic belief, if one is able, It is compulsory to make a pilgrimage and perform Hajj at least once in one life. As per this, believers from all over the world travel to Saudi Arabia yearly to complete the Hajj ritual. In 2019, about 2.5 million pilgrims were gathered in Mecca, making it one of the largest gatherings in the world. Pilgrims often arrive by flight, whereas an Indian is set to reach Mecca by walk. The story of Shihab Chottur can be synonymous with enormous grit, perseverance and a prima facie case of never say die approach.
Hailing from the southern state of India, Kerala, Shihab Chottur hit the news six months ago for announcing a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca by foot. The journey is estimated to be around six thousand kilometres. Despite starting the journey and walking to Punjab, Shihab Chottur’s visa application has not been approved by Pakistan, forcing him to stay at a School in Punjab for four months. Last week, after disappearing from the mainstream news for months, Mr Chottur announced through his Youtube channel that he got a transit Visa from Pakistan. He then crossed the Wagah Attari border, one of the few border crossings between India and Pakistan.
According to recent reports, the Pakistani government had sent Mr Shihab to Iran, citing security issues. He was made to take a flight to Iran by the Pakistan Government. The Times of India reported. This news was earlier confirmed by Shahi Imam of Punjab and later endorsed by Mr Shihab. He recently uploaded a video of his arrival in Iran on his Youtube channel. He complains of internet censorship in Iran as he cannot connect to Social Media or his loved ones. Mr Shihab is not giving up on his Hajj by foot dream. Even Though the Pakistan journey phase is concluded, he will continue the trip through Iran and Kuwait until he reaches the holy place in Saudi Arabia. Despite unwanted hindrances from Pakistan, Mr Shihab is thankful to the authorities of Pakistan for letting him enter the country. He initially intended to have completed the journey by this month, but the border crossing from India to Pakistan cost him almost four months. He will now try to reach Mecca by late May. Currently, he walks approximately twenty-five miles. He was inspired by the travelling from Kerala to Mecca in ancient times by foot and wanted to replicate the same in modern times.
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