A chartered flight carrying the first group of Indian pilgrims for the upcoming Haj arrived, the media reported.
Indian Ambassador Ausaf Sayeed, Consul General Noor Rahman Sheikh and Haj Consul Y. Sabir received the pilgrims on arrival at the Prince Muhammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport on Thursday, reports the Saudi Gazette.
The plane that took off from New Delhi late Wednesday night carried 419 pilgrims. Officials of the Indian Haj Mission said the pilgrims will stay in Medina for eight days and will move to Mecca on July 12.
Out of a total of 1,40,000 people performing the pilgrimage under the aegis of the Haj Committee of India, about 63,000 will arrive in Medina by July 21 and the remaining 77,000 will arrive in Jeddah between July 20 and August 5. The Haj will take place from August 8 to 14.
An office is functioning round-the-clock at the Medina airport to assist arriving Indian pilgrims.
For the first time, rooms have been allotted to the pilgrims for their stay in Medina prior to the departure from India. The pre-allotment has drastically cut down the time required for the movement of the pilgrims and check-in procedures at hotels and apartment buildings. In Mecca, the pre-allotment has been in effect for many years.
In Jeddah, the first Haj flight from India will arrive on July 20 from Ahmedabad. However, pilgrims ferried by private tour operators started arriving in Jeddah on Thursday.