Popcorn Zone

Road From Delhi to Wagah-Attari Border

The Zero Mile

The Wagah Border gate may seem just like any other gate. Situated on NH1, it is partly built on the Grand Trunk Road which is one of the longest and oldest highways of India. The road extends up to Kabul in Afghanistan and still remains as a major trade route between both the countries. Interestingly, Wagah is a village in Pakistan, which shares the boundary with our border village Attari. The Wagah-Attari Border Gate is strategically the most important point on the Indo-Pak Radcliffe Line

An exodus mix of Patriotism

I took the road from Delhi to Attari( 32 kms from Amritsar), to witness the popular Show of Strength and Beating Retreat ceremony, conducted at the border every day at dusk. 

“This simple 45 minute exercise, along with the lowering of the Flag, may seem entertaining. Yet, it does manage to pull those strings of patriotism deep inside you.” 

The entire exercise is put together by the security forces of India’s Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers. Started in 1959, by both the governments as a gesture of good will, the ceremony took an aggressive turn after a few years.

Show of Strength amidst the crowds cheering

The soldiers try to outdo the other side by marching and performing drill in an exaggerated fashion, with impressively high leg kicks. Large crowds on either side of the gate clap and cheer, for their respective countries. As the sun sets, the iron gates at the border are opened and the two flags are lowered simultaneously. The flags are folded and the ceremony ends with a retreat that involves a brusque handshake between soldiers from either side, followed by the closing of the gates again.

Getting the most out of the Wagah-Border ceremony

As the rich hue of the setting sun spreads its wings, I waved back to the people on the other side. I loved the fact that they responded back with a similar gesture. I spotted a young lady with a beautiful baby, trying to click our pictures. For a moment, we stood staring into each other’s eyes, just a few meters away, with the border between us.

Participate in the ceremony. Yes you can, by cheering as loudly as possible. The BSF folks are out there for us. They represent us and need all the encouragement. I did, and it left me with goose bumps.

The crowd- Do cheer along

Take a moment, and walk around (does require a bit more of permission). I noticed the lush green fields on the other side. There was an eerie calm, as the gentle breeze swayed the crops.  For a moment I just wished I could turn invisible and cross over.

“But well, we live in a mortal world, of bricks and mortar, and it comes with its share of restrictions.”

The Fields Across
The Fields Across

India and Pakistan both share a dark common history. Despite the mounting tensions it’s best to not cheer in a demeaning way. The other side is equally patriotic and I believe we must respect that.

Lastly, it’s best to reach before 4pm (unless you have a VIP pass, which I did).  Otherwise, you wouldn’t find a place to sit and watch the ceremony peacefully. Mobiles don’t work, due to the jammers around. So just sit back and enjoy the entire 45 minute exercise. It is well worth every bit of it!!!

The Other Side
The Other Side

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  • Parul Thakur

    I have been to Wagah border and I did not enjoy the ceremony. I will tell you why – I was caught unaware. We had no passes. I could not see a thing and with my short height evening standing did not work. I did hear the chants and slogans that gave me goosebumps but I wish I had seen it like you did. From beginning till the end. Also, after the show got over, I walked up the gate. The guards did not allow me to even peep on the other side. I wonder what they saw I could do :/
    So, you know I came back upset. I don’t know if I want to go till the border but I do want to visit Pakistan some day. It’s beautiful just like India 🙂

  • Rekha @ Dew Drops

    Have never been to that side at all. I am uncomfortable with large crowds. But your experience makes me want to take the girls there. We want to show them as much of the world as we can. And there’s enough here in our country itself.

  • shalzmojo

    I have been here a couple of times and though I agree with the feeling of patriotism n accompanying goosebumps- I feel it’s made into too much of a hyped tamasha n the dignity is somewhere lost between the crowds who are more engrossed in taking selfie…

    • Ramya Abhinand

      OFcourse most of the ceremony is staged and the crowd could be overwhlming. Thats something our crowds must learn to be seated and and be more manageable. But thats surely the scope for another post all together- what say?

  • shanayatales

    The Wagah Border has been on my must-visit list, but I wasn’t aware of any ceremony taking place there. Is this an annual thing?

  • Maliny Mohan

    I have never to most parts of North India, but I find the areas lining the border line intrigung. They would have so much of history imbibed in them. Interesting post, Ramya. If only, the other side was friendlier.

  • Obsessivemom

    We planned to go to Amritsar last year but it just didn’t happen. My sister went and came back with the same reaction – goosebumps. The whole exercise sounds a little jingoistic but I would definitely like to experience it first hand.

  • Beloo Mehra

    I have never been to this border, though others in my family have been there and I have heard many first hand accounts. But I am quite sure I will not really care for witnessing this ceremony, so will probably not go there out of my own choice or unless it is for some ‘scholarly’ study 🙂 I have some strong feelings about why we don’t really need this kind of drama. I also don’t think that we can create any equivalence between the histories of India and Pakistan. That topic is a HUGE one, and has many problematic layers to it as far as I understand it. I hope you don’t mind my being candid here on this blog 🙂

    • Ramya Abhinand

      Not at all Beloo.. I am so glad you shares your thoughts. I agree a lot of it is staged. And in fact, the aggression has been toned down considerably over the years. And yes we cant create equivalence, but a certain part of it has caused enough pain on either side. But well as you say that’s scope for an all-together different post.

  • Mandavi Jaiswal

    Co-incidentally I am currently reading a book on road trip through the country and I just finished Kargil section! This blog gives me all the more reasons to visit and witness this beautiful side of our country.

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