MALAPPURAM: Before modern transport facilities came into existence, many Indians made the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca entirely on foot. The faithful rarely take such a risk these days. But Shihab Chottur, a 30-year-old from Malappuram, has decided to do just that. He plans to walk 8,640 kilometres to be a part of Haj 2023. With the journey scheduled to start on July 2, he is expected to complete the trip in 280 days.
An intense desire to travel on foot to Mecca led him to the decision, Shihab says. “I just decided to do it. Then I worked for it. And so I am now ready to start the journey. All able Muslims are obliged to visit Mecca at least once in their lifetime. I am healthy and able to walk at least 25 kilometres a day. I think I should do it now as I have the support of a large number of people, including my family members and friends,” he says.
Shihab -- who runs a supermarket at Kanhipura -- plans to carry with him a luggage weighing around 10kg. It will include a sleeping bag, four t-shirts and trousers, and an umbrella. He will use the free accommodation and food provided by the worship places on the way. He began preparing for the journey eight months ago.
“I needed to take travel insurance to get financial help in case something goes wrong while travelling. Then, I had to get visas to enter Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The ministry of external affairs and Union Minister V Muraleedharan helped me during the process. Almost all preparation is over,” he says.
Once he reaches Saudi Arabia after walking through six countries, Shihab will apply for Haj 2023.
“I am eager to perform the series of rites as part of Haj. Performing Haj sincerely, solely for the sake of Allah, will turn a person as pure as he was on the day his mother gave birth to him. I hope to come back from Mecca as a pure soul,” he says. Shihab say he has done athorough research on travelling safely through the six countries. But he could not find a person who had previously taken up the adventurous journey to learn of that experience.