Wagah Border Ceremony
The Wagah Border is based near the India/Pakistan border and is the daily closing of the border ceremony. The ceremony first started in 1959, after both countries governments agreed to conduct a daily border closing ceremony. Expect lots of friendly rivalry between the two sides, loud music and large crowds. Wagah Border Ceremony
There are several different methods of arriving at Wagah border, as I had a car and driver booked for my trip to Amritsar it was relatively easy for me to get to the border. If you don’t have this service available to you, near The Golden Temple you’ll find lots of people touting for car services to the border. Expect to pay approx. 450-550 Indian Rupees for a return journey.
A word of advice do not get a rickshaw, opt for a car as a rickshaw will be too slow for the 20km+ drive to the border.
First things first, as a tourist you MUST take your Passport, this is for ID purposes and to ensure you are seated in the tourist section, which has better views (and less pushing/shoving). No vehicles can go all the way to the border, there are barriers about 1.5km from the border – I was advised that I should walk on the right hand side (Indian’s will be on the left hand side) of the highway and expect to be stopped several times for ID/Security checks. Please note no bags, etc can be taken to the ceremony. I only took my camera (do not take camera bag), Mobile Phone, Wallet, Passport (once again this is a must) and a bottle of water.
Seating is like a stadium; the Indian side is currently being extended to allow more visitors to attend the daily border ceremony. Seating is currently split up into the following: VIP (closest to the gate, and best view of the ceremony), Foreign Tourists (sat behind the VIP section, you’ll be sitting on concrete steps, to be able to sit here you’ll require your passport), Ladies section and General seating. Wagah Border Ceremony
Please note mobile phones may not receive signal as networks are jammed near the border. And a gentle reminder, please remember to be aware of your belongings, as with any tourist area it does attract pickpockets.
Do go with an open mind too!
If you are looking to cross the border, you will require a valid visa for Pakistan, the border crossings are between 10am and 3pm daily. There are two ways of crossing either by foot or using one of the few buses that is allowed to cross the border, no private vehicles are allowed to cross. If you are crossing the border my foot, you can hire porters to carry our luggage across.
I arrived to the border around 15:00, the border ceremony is at 16:30 daily, I’d advise to arrive around 15:30, it’ll give you enough time to find a good spot, soak in the atmosphere and people watch! During the summer as the sunsets, it may become unbearable so please plan accordingly – take a cap/sunhat as a minimum. Wagah Border Ceremony
The beating retreat ceremony from both India and Pakistan is a show of strength and patriotism, and both sides have synchronised the ceremony creating a positive atmosphere between both sides.
Before the ceremony begins on the Indian side of the border a local school is invited to entertain the crowd with some traditional bhangra dancing. The ceremony starts off with a parade by the soldiers from both sides with lots of high kicking, saluting and ends in the coordinated lowering of the two nations flags.
With the lowering of the flags one soldier from each side stands at attention on each side of the gate. When the sun begins to set, the iron gates are opened and the two flags are lowered, folded, followed by a brief handshake between soldiers from each side. The two gates are then slammed shut, and the chaos begins people start heading for the exits as well as to take a few selfies with the soldiers. My advice at this point is to head for where your vehicle back to Amritsar is parked as the roads back were foggy and chaotic. I’m glad I wore a comfortable pair of trainers and jogged back to the car.
It was an experience…
The above headline would certainly sum it up for me, both Amritsar and the Wagah Border Ceremony have been on my bucket list of locations for many years. It was certainly a fantastic (unorganised) experience! Given the tensions between India and Pakistan in October 2016, I was lucky to have witnessed the ceremony as the, two countries were close to war and the surrounding areas were evacuated a few weeks earlier.
Most people visit the area for the Golden Temple, I’d also suggest adding the Wagah Border Ceremony to it.
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If visiting Amritsar then Wagah Border is a must added to the itinerary, being only about 30 mins away from the the city.
Foreign passport is a great tip! Can enter we regular ID, however, it won’t get you into the best seats designated for tourists, closest to the pomp & action at border gates.
Upon the completion of the ceremony, there is a rush out back into the main road, but if U’re not pressed for time then just allow the crowds to leave, take your time & snap some more pics frm different vantage points. You’ll be able to get shots of the Pakistani grandstand from some positions.
We enjoyed having a half empty grandstand to ourselves for a short while. It’s less pushing & shoving on the way out too. We just chatted to different people about their experience on the way out. My mate & I meet two German girls & then a teacher frm Blackburn on the gentle stroll out. We decided on an evening visit to the Golden Temple together. It pays to interact when travelling & sharing stories. It’s a great addition to the while experience.
Nice review, Raj.