Kashmir’s Hajj Economy Booms, Crosses Rs 700 Crore In 2023


by Raashid Andrabi

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing an extraordinary surge in the number of Muslims undertaking the sacred pilgrimage of Hajj this year. More than 13500 Muslims are performing Hajj through the state-run Hajj Corporation of India and the private tour operators.

A staggering total of 12,531 people from the region are set to participate in the Hajj pilgrimage organized by the Hajj Corporation of India (HCoI) this year. It includes 452 pilgrims from Ladakh region, the erstwhile part of the Jammu and Kashmir state.

With each person bearing a cost of Rs 4.80 lakh, the collective expenditure by these pilgrims is estimated to reach approximately Rs 604 crore. This excludes the resources they will be spending from their own pockets.

Besides, around 1000 individuals are embarking on Hajj through private tour operators. The charges, in this case, vary, from Rs 6.5 lakh to Rs 13 lakh per head depending on the facilities they wish to avail. Lodging is the key cost – the more one wishes to stay closer to the Kaaba, the more expensive the accommodation gets.

Calculated on an average of Rs 7 lakh per head, the costs are around Rs 70 crore.

Once the Hajj concludes, the Umrah will takeover. The faithful go for Umrah any time during eight months in a year and that is a separate travel business.

“This year the private tour operator quota was reduced,” one operator said. “We we have less than 500 berths within Jammu and Kashmir and the people then opted to perform Hajj through operators outside Kashmir.”

The significant rise in the number of participants, with 12,531 individuals through HCoI alone, marks a substantial increase compared to the previous year’s figure of below 6000 pilgrims. This surge underscores the growing significance of the Hajj pilgrimage among Indian Muslims, highlighting their deep devotion and commitment.

Hajj, as one of the Five Pillars of Islam, holds immense spiritual significance. It is mandatory on Muslims who afford it. Muslims undertake this sacred journey to the holy city of Mecca, following the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is regarded as a time of purification, repentance, and seeking forgiveness from Allah. Performing Hajj is seen as a means of attaining spiritual enlightenment and drawing closer to Allah. The increasing number of individuals undertaking Hajj from Jammu and Kashmir reflects the unwavering dedication of the Muslim community in the region.

Interestingly, the Hajj is getting more costly with every passing year. When the Government of India decided to withdraw the so-called subsidy to the Hajj pilgrimage, it was said that it will make the exercise cheap and more people can take off on the dream pilgrimage. Most Muslims supported the idea of the withdrawal of the subsidy. However, it proved otherwise.

The Haj Economy

For Hajj 2022, the pilgrimage cost amounted to Rs 3.85 lakh, while the expected cost for Hajj 2023 was initially estimated to be Rs 3.95 lakh but gradually rose to above 4.5 lakh. Interestingly, people flying on Hajj from Delhi, Mumbai or any other destination across India are paying almost Rs 50,000 less than those leaving from Srinagar Embarking Point.

Interestingly, the state Hajj committee officials had announced in February 2023 that the Hajj will be Rs 80,000 cheaper this year. Instead, it became Rs 80,000 costlier.

The funds expended on Hajj not only cover the logistical aspects of the pilgrimage but also make a substantial contribution to the economy of Saudi Arabia. The hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia experiences a significant boost during the Hajj season as hotels and businesses cater to the needs of the pilgrims. Muslims consider this economic aspect of Hajj as a form of blessing and an opportunity to contribute to the host country’s development while fulfilling their religious duties.

Off late, the Muhammad bin Salam administration is making serious efforts to improve the infrastructure so that more and more people come for the Hajj and Umrah.

With the Hajj economy in Jammu and Kashmir thriving and projected to reach a staggering Rs 700 crore, it is evident that the religious devotion of the Muslim community is driving both spiritual and economic growth in the region.

Meanwhile, the second batch of pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir departed for Saudi Arabia on Thursday to participate in the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Right now only one flight is taking off from Srinagar but officials said the number of flights will double later this fortnight.


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