Wagah Border Flag Ceremony
The most unfortunate places of its time that has seen bloodshed of its own children is the Wagah Border, which lies between India and Pakistan. Splitting one country into two is the Radcliffe Line which had been drawn during 1947. This line passes through the village Wagah on the Indian side, dividing the country into two. Mass departures took place during partition across this border, resulting in immense bloodshed.
The Wagah border lies at a distance of 27 km from Amritsar in India and 29 km from Lahore in Pakistan. The border is now one of the most prominent tourist destinations and one who visits Amritsar definitely visits the border.
Wagah border is the only point between India and Pakistan and is open for tourists on a regular basis. To visit the border on the Indian side, you will first need to visit Amritsar and take a public bus till Attari station. From Attari you can take a cycle rickshaw to cover the 3 km till the border. You can also hire a private taxi for about Rs 500 for a round trip. Another option is to hire a shared jeep.
Wagah Border Flag Ceremony
Apart from being the Line of Control (LoC), the Wagah Border is also popular for the flag retreat ceremony that occurs before sunset everyday. There is also a flag raising ceremony everyday, but it is the flag lowering which is done with full patriotic spirit on each side of border by both Pakistani and Indian soldiers. This beating of the retreat ceremony is enjoyed by tourists from both the side as the parade is highly synchronized. Soldiers from both the side try to beat each other at it.
The flag lowering ceremony attracts more visitors as a cultural programme is also performed before the ceremony. The ceremony starts at about 5:30 pm, but it is advisable to be there at least one hour before the actual time as it can get really crowded. You can get a seat in a seating area that has VIP seating, seating for foreign tourists, ladies exclusive seating and general seating. Listen to the patriotic songs before the retreat ceremony and feel your patriotisms surge . At the time of the retreat the border looks like a battleground, as the procession is conducted with loud shouts and heavy foot stomping by the soldiers. This form of marching where soldiers lift up their legs very high is known as goose marching. This procession lasts for 45 minutes.
Cameras and cell phones are allowed but covereds bag like ladies hand bags are not allowed inside the visitor area. You can keep required things in see through bags. So try not to bring bags as there is no arrangement to secure them.
Mobile phones are allowed, but the mobile phone network is jammed so you won’t be able to use your phone.
Beware of pick-pocketers. In case of an incident, report it to the police station at Wagah Border.
Car parking is about 500 m away from the entry gate.
Cigarettes and lighters are not allowed and will be seized.
Everyone is free to watch the ceremony as there is no ticket for the same on the India side.
No water bottles are allowed after the checking point. So try not to bring them along. But you can buy these from the stalls close to the gate if required.
You can buy the CD and DVD of the whole flag ceremony and procession. But beware that you may be fooled with pirated copies.
Expect unavoidable traffic jams and delays, as many people leave the border at the same time to head towards Amritsar.