Bemina, Nov 9: The Jammu and Kashmir Government has set up the state"s first state-of-the-art Haj House for the stay of Haj pilgrims, ahead of the beginning of the annual pilgrimage on November 11.
Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad inaugurated the swanky lodging at Bemina, on the outskirts of Srinagar, on Thursday.
The Haj House has arrangements for absolutions, foreign exchange, immigration and other passenger amenities under one roof.
Azad said that the Haj House would be beneficial because in the coming years the pilgrimage would take place during winters, when the pilgrims would be required to reach the airport in early morning hours and may have to face flight delays due to bad weather.
“Then sometimes if the flights get cancelled due to bad weather, they have to return all the way back. So, for this reason this has been provided," Azad said.
Azad said that by 2008, there would be better facilities when the construction of the Haj House would be complete.
The Haj House is being constructed in two phases, at an estimated cost of Rs 105 million. The first phase of the Haj House was completed in 300 days by the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC).
The first batch of the Haj pilgrims will leave for Jeddah in Saudi Arabia on Sunday directly from the Haj House.
“Till today we had not hoped for such a thing to happen. But today with Allah's blessings, this Haj House has opened having every facility," said Saifullah Khan, a Srinagar resident.
Every year more than 70,000 pilgrims from India visit the Muslim"s holy place. Over two million pilgrims undertake the journey each year from all over the world.
The Haj involves weeklong celebrations and takes place nearly 70 days after the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
About 110,000 pilgrims will be covered under the government subsidy scheme during the Haj operations this year.
The total cost of operation for Haj 2007 is estimated to be around Rs. 519 crores (Rs. 5.19 billion).