Wagah Border, Amritsar

Wagah is the border that lies on the Grand Trunk Road between the cities of Amritsar in Punjab, India and Lahore in Punjab, Pakistan. It is the only road border which crosses between India and Pakistan. The border is at a distance of 20 kms from Amritsar and 22 kms from Lahore.

The 1947 partition of India and Pakistan led to the marking of a long white line that defines the Wagah Border between the two neighbours, separated by two heavy gates about 2 meters apart on either side. The closing ceremony at Wagah Border, also known as ‘lowering of the flags’ ceremony, is a daily martial custom that the security forces of India (Border Security Force) and Pakistan (Pakistan Rangers) have mutually followed since 1959. This interesting ceremony takes place every evening before sunset at the Wagah Border.

As the sun starts to set, Wagah Border comes alive with an incredible zeal and an unmistakable nationalist energy on both sides. The show starts off with the playing of patriotic songs and remembering the brave soldiers who laid down their lives for the country. The crowd cheers on by calling out ‘Jai Hind’ and ‘Vande Mataram’, reciprocated with cries of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ from the opposite side.

The ‘Beating the Retreat’ ceremony starts with a stiff-marching parade by the soldiers from both the sides. One infantryman stands at attention on each side of the gate. Soon after, the heavy gates at the Wagah Border are flung open; the two soldiers approach each other, exchange fierce looks, give out mimicked threats, and show anger. They shake hands and begin to lower the Indian and Pakistani flags fixed on high poles at the gates, simultaneously.The flags are neatly folded and carried back into the respective camps. There is a final brisk handshake between the soldiers from either side, after which no glance is exchanged. This is followed by the slammed closing of both the gates and blowing of trumpet to mark the end of the grand ceremony.

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