By Neelam Rahim
Shihab Chottur started his journey on June 2 from Athavanad near Velancheryin Malappuram district of Kerala.
A 30-year-old man from Kerala commenced his 8,640 km long journey on foot to perform Haj. Yet he says no amount of planning will help him while crossing vast stretches of land on foot. “It’s not planning but the aim that matters,” he said.
Shihab runs a supermarket in Kerala. He has been preparing for the past eight months to perform the Haj in 2023. He has pledged to travel across six nations without travelling in any vehicle. He will have to traverse the roads of India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Kuwait to reach Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims in Saudi Arabia.
His goal is to walk 8,640 km in 280 days and walks at an average of 25 km per day. Shihab has received aid from V Muraleedharan, the state Union Minister for External Affairs, and several others in making this journey a success. His route will pass through the states of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra and will enter Pakistan via the Wagah border.
With a 10kg backpack comprising a few t-shirts, trousers, a bedsheet and an umbrella, Shihab is strong-willed and determined to complete his journey. Taking shelter at night in masjids on the way, he marches forward every day with the support and cooperation of his family and well-wishers.
Many vloggers are promoting his journey as Mr Shihab remains arguably the first man to conduct a Haj pilgrimage on foot from India in the 21st century.
When he reaches Makkah by February next year, it will be a dream come true for Mr Shihab, who had worked in the kingdom for six years. “I started dreaming about a Haj pilgrimage on foot even when I was working in Saudi Arabia. Insha Allah, I will reach Makkah in eight months, covering 8,640 km,” he said.