Experience what it is like to stand at the Indo-Pakistan border at the iconic Wagah! Here is everything you should know about the Wagah border before you plan to visit it.
The Wagah border plays a major role in maintaining the diplomatic relationship between India and Pakistan. Lots of people assume that Wagah is in India, but actually, it is a tiny village in Pakistan. It is a goods transit terminal and a railway station between the countries. However, the main attraction is the Wagah border ceremony! Wagah border is 24 kilometres away from Lahore and 32-kilometres away from Amritsar. Also known as the Attari-Wagah border, citizens from both nations visit the border from their sides to witness the evening ceremony that takes place every day. Attari village is a village in India, three kilometres away from the border.
What is the historical significance of the Wagah border?
The border is named after the Wagah village of Pakistan and was created by the Radcliffe Line. The Radcliffe Line was the boundary demarcation created by Cyril Radcliffe, the Britisher who was responsible for defining the boundaries during the partition of India.
What happens at the Wagah border ceremony?
Every day, the border patrols of both nations raise their respective national flags in the morning. In the evening, before the sun sets, the lowering of the flags takes place in an elaborate ceremony with spectators from India and Pakistan. The ceremony is also known as Beating Retreat, and this military practice has been jointly followed by India and Pakistan’s security forces since 1959.
Before the flag is lowered, the security forces put on a display of showmanship and skill, challenging each other to perform the best. This healthy competition is a symbol of the countries’ history of rivalry and brotherhood. With citizens of both nations cheering for the troops, the enthusiasm and fervour of an India-Pakistan cricket match are what one experiences during the Wagah border parade! To watch the disciplined troops in their uniform as they march about the border is truly iconic.
Indo-Pakistan borders like Mahavir/Sadqi border (near Fazilka) and Ganda Singh Wala (near Firozpur) in Punjab also hold similar ceremonies on the border.
Can people cross the Wagah border from India to Pakistan?
The border can be used to enter Pakistan from India and vice versa. There are a series of procedures that take place when someone needs to cross the Wagah border. An important thing to remember is that you’ll need an issued visa before attempting to cross borders. Indians also need a visa. They are not granted visa-free entry or a visa on arrival.
Best time to visit Wagah border:
The border is open all year round. You can visit it any day of the week between 10 am to 4 pm. However, the parade timings change from season to season according to the sunset timings. In the summer the parade starts at 5:15 pm and in the winter the parade starts at 4:15 pm. It lasts roughly 45 minutes. You don’t need to pay for a ticket to witness the parade, it is open to all. But it is recommended that you reach an hour early so that you can catch good seats and you can be denied entry if there are too many people attending the ceremony on a particular day.
How to reach the Wagah border
As Amritsar is right on the way to the Wagah border, you’ll find most accommodations in the city. Home to the iconic Jallianwala Bagh and the famed Golden Temple, Amritsar is very close to the Indo-Pakistan border. The Attari-Wagah border is located 32-kilometres away from Amritsar. Reaching Wagah Border is not an easy feat but it can be achieved this way.
The Amritsar airport, also known as Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport, is 10.7 kilometres away from the city and takes only 20 minutes to reach by cab. The flight from Delhi to Amritsar is an hour-long journey and it costs around INR 3,000-4,000. If you are flying from Mumbai, then the journey will be three hour-long and cost around INR 7,000-8,000.
Amritsar Junction is the railway station of Amritsar and it is right in the city. The train journey from Delhi is roughly six to seven hours, depending on the train you take. The ticket price range varies from INR 300-1,815. You can also take trains from Mumbai, however, it would take 28 hours to reach and the journey would cost around INR 700-4,500.
The border is well connected by roads and it is on the Grand Trunk Road, one the greatest historical roads in Asia. Delhi is 502 kilometres away from the border and driving down takes nine hours. Mumbai is 1,400 kilometres away from the Wagah-Attari border and can take more than two days to reach via road.
Things to do near the Wagah border
The Golden Temple
Immerse yourself in the spirituality of the Golden Temple. This Gurudwara is the preeminent worship place for the Sikh community. Even if one is not a follower of Sikhism, this monument is worth the visit as it has beautiful architecture.
Learn about the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and the history of the struggle behind India’s Independence by visiting the memorial park. It is very close to the Golden Temple.
It is the first museum devoted to the history of Partition. Also known as the People’s Museum, it tells the story of partition through oral histories, refugee artefacts, letters, photographs and documents from the era.
Hero and feature image credit: Courtesy of Shutterstock
This story first appeared on Travel+Leisure India and South Asia.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: The Wagah border is open from 10 am - 4 pm.
Answer: You don't need to buy a ticket to experiences the ceremony.
Answer: Yes, with the necessary documents you can.
Answer: Attari is in Punjab, India.
Answer: Yes, you can carry your phones at the Wagah border.