The flag lowering ceremony at Wagah border is one of the must visit when in Amritsar. After visiting Golden temple and Jaliawala bagh we had a sumptuous lunch of Punjabi food from dhaba. Attari is the last village in Amritsar 3 km before Wagah border. The International border of India Pakistan is 32 km from Amritsar city. Attari is the last village on India side and Wagah is the first village on Pakistan side. This border check post is located on Grand Trunk Road, which is Asia’s oldest and longest major roads run from Chittagong, Bangladesh to Kabul, Afghanistan.
The flag lowering ceremony starts approx an hour before sunset. It is appropriate to go at 4.00 PM from Amritsar for Wagah border ceremony but we started around 2.30 PM as we decided to see Attari border railway station before going to Wagah border.
We stopped on the way in front of Khalsa college for photographs. This college was established in 1892 and built in Indo-Saracenic style, which is strongly influenced by traditional Indian and Mughal architecture.
It took us about one hour to reach Attari railway station, on the way we saw fields with harvest and vegetables. The road to Wagah border is only two lanes but as traffic is not much so it was a nice drive in the middle of lush green fields & trees.
Attari railway station is very small because only 2 passenger trains from each side pass this station every week. Goods trains cross the border as and when required. Railway staff informed us that border cross through train is a very tedious process. People deboard the train with luggage and then clear the immigration process at the station before reboarding the train. On the day of our visit, there was no train to or from India or Pakistan so the station was quiet. The border is only a few minutes from the station. We moved around and asked the policeman if we can see the immigration area, they allowed us to go there and see through the glass door.
After exploring Attari station we started for Wagah border. The driver parked the car in the parking area and we came to the main entry gate. There was already a small crowd outside the gate, we also became part of it and waited. Finally, BSF (Border Security Force) guards opened the door and everyone started rushing inside. The main ceremony area is approximately little more than half a km from outside main gate.
I noticed that most of the people were running so that they can get a seat with the best view of the ceremony. BSF had made a small stadium on both sides of gate and road, where the pre-flag lowering ceremony takes place. We didn’t run but still, we managed to get good seats. If there are a senior citizen or a person with some special needs then contact BSF guards near you, they help and get a comfortable place for them.
The Wagah border’s “flag lowering” ceremony is very popular among locals as well as tourists. It is performed by BSF guards on the Indian side and Pakistani Rangers on another side of the border before sunset. Before the start of the actual ceremony by the BSF soldiers, they play patriotic songs on loudspeakers and encourage common people to participate in it. Anyone from the crowd can participate during my visit, I saw people running with flags or dancing on the road. In a half, an hour’s time atmosphere got charged up with electric energy.
Finally, BSF soldiers asked people to sit and actual ceremony by them started. The ceremony started with female soldiers, they marched till gate. There were soldiers standing on horses on both sides of the door. Soldiers marched on the road with hard foot stomping and after some time, both sides opened the gates with attitude. BSF soldiers started the flag lowering and the crowd cheered in full volume. Both sides lower the flags in coordination with hard foot stomping. It was kind of competition, who can stomp hard and who can raise the leg higher during walking. Soldiers of both sides closed the gates after the formal handshake.
It was an interesting ceremony with drama and action, full entertainment.
After the ceremony, we came back to parking and returned back to Amritsar. The mobile signals in this area are not good, just remember that. We could not get through our driver’s number due to this and had difficulty locating him, so fix an easy landmark with the driver.
Flag lowering ceremony at Attari Wagah Border is very interesting and should watch it when in Amritsar.