THE WAGAH BORDER CEREMONY
AKA Beating the Retreat
Astonishing, proud, pompous, peculiar even a bit amusing and surely entertaining. Watching the ceremony of lowering of the flags on the India-Pakistan border is indeed unique experience leaving all spectators in awe. If you go to Amritsar it’s a must see.
Basically since 1959 the security forces of India – Border Security Force and Pakistan – Pakistan Rangers follow a very special military practice every single day right before the sunset.
It takes place at the Wagah border on the Grand Trunk Road connecting India with Pakistan. The point where the road crosses political border between the two nations has a massive iron gate being opened every day during the ceremony of changing of the guards. This ritual is somehow simultaneously showing the hostility and rivalry between two countries and cooperative brotherhood between the two nations. The synchronized flags lowering starts right after the gate opens and is followed by unusual brisk strides, feet stamping, legs stretching, salutes and vigorous cheers of crowds gathered on both sides. Soldier’s faces look extremely serious even furious and don’t give you the impression of friendliness between India and Pakistan. But at the end of ceremony soldiers shake hands and give respects to each other and officially close the gate. All that is conducted in very organized manner with visitors cramped on stairs built along the Grand Trunk Road. Soldiers performing this act are carefully selected following the criteria of height (minimum 6 feet tall), perfect fitness level and preferably abundant moustache presence. They are dressed strictly according to the code of this ceremony (Indian soldiers in khaki, Pakistani in black) and wear massive turbans that make them look even bigger.
WATCH A SHORT VIDEO WE TOOK LAST TIME WE WENT THERE: WAGAH BORDER CEREMONY VIDEO Some tips for those who plan to go: – Timings differ depending on the time of the year ( in winters it starts around 4.30 pm and in summers around 5.30 pm) – If you plan to go on a weekend day or a holiday be prepared for long cue before the security check, big crowd and lots of mess. Therefore go in advance. – Carry your passport – Don’t carry any bag or backpack – Don’t carry any food or drinks from outside – If in spring/summer time have your sunglasses and hat on (sun is shining directly towards the Indian side) – Follow the directions while entering – separate security gate for men and women, later separate seats for Indian citizens and foreigners.
The Wagah border is 28 km away from Amritsar. Don’t miss it out on your North India tour.