A record 1,75,025 Muslims from India will be making the Haj pilgrimage this year. Around 1,308 Muslim women are travelling for the pilgrimage without.
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the Centre has invited tenders to restart the sea route from Mumbai to the port city of Jeddah for Haj pilgrimage.
The route, which was discontinued after the last ship was scrapped in 1995, would re-start in 2019 to make travel to Saudi Arabia economical, the minister said, Hindustan Times reported.
He made the statement while flagging off the first batch of Haj pilgrims from Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai on July 29.
The minister revealed that India recently held talks with Saudi government to revive the sea route and received a go-ahead to restart the route.
This is the first year the Haj pilgrimage is taking place without any subsidy, following the Centre’s order to abolish the aid in accordance with a Supreme Court order.
As the subsidy has ended, “[the government wants] to reduce cost, which is why this alternative (sea route) has been thought of,” said Maqsood Khan, chief executive officer, Haj Committee of India (HCOI).
Once the sea route starts, as many as 5,000 pilgrims will be able to travel on a single cruise liner. Earlier, it would take around seven to eight days to reach Jeddah from Mumbai, but with modern technology, the travel time can be reduced to just three days, Khan explained.
However, he did not reveal the approximate cost of travel by ship.A record 1,75,025 Muslims from India will be making the Haj pilgrimage this year. For the first time, 1,308 Muslim women are travelling for the pilgrimage without "mehram" (male companion), Naqvi said.