Thursday, 20 February 2014

A few days in Amritsar: The Border at Wagu

The border between India and Pakistan is about 30 ams to the west of Amritsar and is one of the “must see” places for tourists. Borders do not normally attract visitors who have no intention of crossing but this crossing point at Wagu is famous for its Sunset Ceremony.

Wagu Welcome








There are only a few land borders between India and Pakistan and therefore those that exist are very busy. At Wagu there is a nightly “battle” between India and Pakistan where the battle arms are exaggerated ceremonial marching, facial grimaces, the loudness of music and the cheering of each nation’s crowds - crowds who can barely see each other.

Border notice











Although import and export of goods takes place here as well as the list in the photograph above, this happens at a separate part of the crossing a few Kms to the south. There is very little through traffic however and all Indian lorries are unloaded and their goods reloaded onto lorries from Pakistan and vice-versa. It is not unknown (and in fact is usually the case) for drivers to wait at least two weeks for their turn to unload / reload their cargo.

It is difficult to adequately describe what we saw, heard and felt whilst at the Border and really you have to experience it for yourself in order to appreciate how unusual a place it is.

Picture difficulty









Taking pictures is difficult because there are so many people trying to take pictures that everyone gets in each others way.

Two Gates









The border is marked by a gate - on our side is India and on the other side is Pakistan.










Two large spectator arenas have been built, one on each side of the border and the area is packed with people on each side who have come to see the border gate closing ceremony.

Each side of the border tries to do everything bigger, better, louder….. than the other side. Hence on the Indian side patriotic music is played at a volume which would deafen even the already deaf.

Indian Soldiers













 We were told that only the tallest most handsome

Female Soldier













or most beautiful soldiers

PH Wagu Soldiers













were selected to serve at the border










and smartness is to a level we have never seen elsewhere in India.

The Indian side start playing a song as loud as they can and then the Pakistan side start playing a response which they intend to be louder. The Indian side turn up their volume…...

Running with the flag









Dancing in the road is the norm as is running up and down the road carrying the Indian flag

PH Flag Wavers










or waving it furiously

Marching Soldiers









Female Marching









Soldiers Marching









Troops matching up and down the road in a very exaggerated manner is the norm (think of the Ministry of Silly Walks done at great speed and you are close)

Lahore Coach









The daily coach to Lahore slowly makes it way across the border to much applause and cheering (at least I think it was that)

Face to Face









a soldier marches to the border and makes gestures to his opposite numbers

Indian Flag Lowering









the Indian flag is lowered - it is important to both sides that their flag is not the first to be lowered

Two Flags









so they have developed the skill of getting both sides flags

PH Flag Lowering Team










to be fully lowered at the same moment

Border Gate









when the gate is closed, the troops relax and one can walk fairly close to the gate

There is quite a reasonable if slightly poor quality) video on YouTube of the event

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