Wagah border certainly rings a bell among Indians. But, just to re-iterate, Wagah border is the India-Pakistan border, situated in Punjab. Located at a distance of 28 KMs from Amritsar, Wagah border attracts thousands of visitors everyday .
The flag lowering ceremony takes place at the Wagah Border gate everyday. Here, I am sharing my experience when I amalgamated with the huge crowd and cheered for India! I still remember the patriotic feelings rushing through me as the BSF soldiers performed their daily duty.
I seek unique experiences through my travels and Wagah border did not disappoint me. The sheer magnitude of enthusiasm which Indians exhibit at Wagah Border was beyond my comprehension and above my expectations. The enthusiastic cheers echoed in the vibrant environment. When we hired a cab to reach Wagah Border to Amritsar, I had no idea how overwhelming the next couple of hours were going to be.
When we reached Wagah Border, we saw a never ending line. People across all states, religions & cultures had accumulated here and were waiting for security clearance. As the massive line moved forward, the heat was turning up it’s wrath. We perspired and covered our face with towel to shield ourselves from the excruciatingly hot winds. As we were checked thoroughly and given security clearance, the temperature reading was 48 degree celsius!
Even after security, the line moved at a negligible pace. With heavily guarded lanes, there was limited scope for the crowd to misbehave. Had the soldiers not been strict, stampedes would have been a common occurrence here!
It took us 1.5 hours to move along with the line and finally find a seat in the stadium. There were thousands and thousands of heads turned towards the Wagah Border gate. The crowd at Pakistan’s side was minimal compared to Indian crowd. There was a coach who directed the Indian crowd to cheer. Sounds like “Hindustan Zindabaad” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai” echoed in the space. The pakistani counterpart also tried to provoke the pakistanis to cheer. But, the magnitude of their volume was like a fart in a hurricane.
Before the flag lowering ceremony started, some girls and ladies were invited to carry the flag and run to the border gate and back. Many others were invited to dance in festivity as the patriotic music filled the air. I noticed a group of Gujaratis performing garba along with Punjabis dancing on Bhangra music. The scene was truly depicting India’s unity in diversity.
After 1 hour of festivities, the ceremony started. The BSF soldiers stood in attention waiting for instructions. As they followed the instructions, the crowd kept chanting patriotic slogans. The strength of pakistanis had now increased and their shouts were now audible. But, their every shout was retaliated by a stronger cheer from Indians. The atmosphere was electrified and intense! I surely got goosebumps!!
The whole ceremony took around one hour. Both the flags were now lowered and the soldiers shook hands firmly. The show was finally over and the crowd started dissipating.
Everyday, the Wagah Border ceremony attracts lakhs of tourists, both Indian and foreigners. This ceremony has been named as “Carefully Choreographed Contempt” by Michael Palin. I would surely recommend a visit to Wagah Border. Not for anything else but for being a part of skyrocketing exuberance exhibited by both the nations.
I have compiled some quick tips which you would find useful if you plan to visit Wagah Border.
1) The Wagah Border is situated at a distance of 28 KMs from Amritsar
2) You can hire a cab, shared or individual to reach Wagah Border. To get a good seat, I recommend reaching Wagah Border by 2 pm. If you delay reaching here, you might have to wait for maybe 2 hours to even enter the stadium near Wagah Border gate
3) VIP arrangements are made for people who know somebody in Army. However, I am not sure about the procedure.
4) I don’t recommend to visit Wagah Border in the months of May, June, October & November. These months are considered to be peak season for tourism here and the crowd can be humongous! If you are visiting Wagah Border in Summer, I strongly recommend you to carry a bottle of water. It becomes extremely hot and the crowd will surely exhaust you!
5) There are no entry fees to visit Wagah Border. You can get snacks & water near the gate, before entering the stadium.
6) Don’t shy away to be a part of the exuberance. Shout, Cheer & enjoy the electrified atmosphere!