Wagah Border – The Ceremonial Border between India and Pakistan
The Wagah Border is also referred to as the “Berlin Wall of Asia”. The Wagah Border is known as the ceremonial Border between India and Pakistan because each evening thousands of visitors across the nations gather to witness the Retreat ceremony also known as the “Lowering of flags”. At the time of dusk, when the ceremony starts, a great enthusiasm and energy flows through the crowd. The most attractive feature is the energetic parade by the BSF (Border Security Forces) Soldiers of both the nations. It may seem slightly aggressive and even hostile to foreigners, but it really is just grand entertainment for the crowds with grand stands being built on both sides. Troops of each country put on quite an entertaining show in their uniforms with their colorful turbans.
The Ceremonial border between India and Pakistan is the Wagah Border. Wagah is the only road Border crossing between the two countries. Today this point is only land route to approach Pakistan and central Asia. The border lies on the Grand Trunk Road between the Indian City Amritsar and Pakistani city Lahore. Wagah is a small village that lies on the border areas of India and Pakistan. In 1947 when both the countries got independence, the village was divided into two parts with the controversial Radcliffe Line*. Today the eastern part of the village lies in India and the western half lies in Pakistan. A long white line, borne with partition of Indian empire, defines the border between the neighbors and two heavy metal gates, about two meters apart, stand across either side.
* Radcliffe Line : The Radcliffe Line became the border between India and Pakistan on 17 August 1947 after the Partition of India. The line was decided by the Border Commissions chaired by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who was to divide equitably 175,000 square miles (450,000 km2) of territory with 88 million people.
There lies some complex of buildings ta the outpost. On each side of the border there are barriers to limit the entrance. On the Indian Side of the Wagah Border, about 100 meters away from the border is a huge gate with an encription “Swarn Jayanti Dwar”. This is the sight seeing gate and from here a panoramic view of the wagah landscape can be enjoyed.
The Retreat Ceremony is conduct at Wagah Border since 60 years. Since then it has become a daily ritual performed every evening. It is a well coordinated, organized and spectacular display put together by Border Security Force (B.S.F.) soldiers on the Indian side and the Sutlej Rangersof Pakistan on the other side.
The sound of bugles indicates the start of the ceremony. It is blown together by the guards on both the sides. Then comes the loud sounds of thumping of boots, snorts full of aggression, chanting of “Bharat mata ki jai” and “Vande Matram” on the Indian Side. The people on the other side of the border provoked with equal enthusiasm and energy respond by shouting “Pakistan Zindabad”.
The whole crowd transforms into a hooting and jumping cheerleaders. Passion and patriotism is at all time high. Visitors on the Indian side shout “Jai Mata di”, “Jai Hind”, “Mera Bharat Mahan” etc. on the top of their voice. The moment becomes so live and full of energy. The two countries are rivals since ages but here at Wagah border the Soldiers show rivalry in a healthier way.
How to reach:
As Amritsar is very well connected to the rest of India, Frequent Rail and Road services are available. Wagah Border is located at a distance of 28 kilometers from Amritsar. It is an army outpost to protect check intrusion from Pakistan and prevents any Indian from going to Pakistan. Special buses and taxes from Amritsar take the tourists to Wagah Border. Car is the most comfortable option to reach the border. You can also take a bus from Amritsar city and then catch a rickshaw/ auto rickshaw to reach to the parade location.
Raja Sansi International Airport in Amritsar is well connected with the major cities of India like Mumbai and Chennai. From airport to the city you can heir a taxi or can take a bus to Wagah border.
Both,State run public buses as well as private buses are available to get in and out of Amritsar. The road that connects Delhi and Amritsar is known as Grand Trunk Road.
Amritsar Railway Station is well linked to the other rail heads in Punjab as well as the major cities of India.
Amritsar has the extremes of summers and winters.
- Summers (April to June) are very hot in Amritsar. The temperature may go up to 49 °C. It is advisable to keep off visiting Amritsar during this period in order to avoid scorching heat.
- Monsoons (July to October) This is a cool and pleasant time that offer mild to heavy rains.
- Winters (November to March) The extreme cold temperature can fall as low as -4°C, the highest temperature in winters is about 18°C.
Best time to visit Amritsar is from October to March.
- Although border opens from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, but be there well before sunset in order to grab the best seat. Some people start gathering by 3:00 pm. The flag down ceremony starts at 4:30pm and ends with national anthem at 5:00pm.
- October to March months are with cool and pleasant climate and perfect for city visit, May keep off freezing January month.
- April to June is extreme hot and can be avoided for any outside visit.
- July to September is also good for sight seeing in a moderate climate, but beware of sudden heavy rains.
A long white line, borne with partition of Indian empire, defines the border between India and Pakistan. The sightseeing gate with an inscription “Swarna Jayanti Dwar”. From this a panoramic view of the landscape is seen. Thousands of tourists from India and across the world gather in order to see the grand Retreat Ceremony conducted at Wagah Border every evening.