The colours of India: Wagah

This is the continuation of a photo essay documenting my travels through India! Grab a cup of chai and join me on my journey… don’t forget to visit the Taj Mahal while you’re here!

Following my visit to The Golden Temple in Amritsar, I was told that there was one other thing I should experience before heading on my way. I was told, I had to see the border ceremony at Wagah.

Wagah, a short and beautiful drive (I arranged a pick-up from a familiar taxi driver beforehand – ask your hotel/hostel manager for fair pricing) from Amritsar, is where you will find the only open road border crossing between Pakistan and India. Early evening, tourists and locals alike gather at the border to witness the ceremony that takes place daily, marking the importance of keeping an open border between the nations. Tourists are offered VIP seating, basically a seat with a view and a guarantee that you’ll be, well, seated.

The lead up to the ceremony itself is the main attraction. On the Indian side, wondrous music fills the air as women and children dance to fun-filled songs, chanting “Hindu-stan!”, “Hindu-stan!” Soldiers in traditional garb, sporting feathered hats march to and fro, manning the gates until the moment has come for the ceremony to commence.

After the dancing came to a halt, the crowds on either side of the border began a chanting war: India, full of colour and life against a staunchly conservative Pakistan. As people in Wagah rose to their feet in support of their nation, one little boy caught my attention. This small, innocent boy, standing with his father, had fire in his eyes as he threw his hand up into the air showing a defiant fist, shouting in support of his country.

Opposite the gate, on the Pakistani side of the border, men and women sit separated. There is no dancing. There is no noise. No movement. Until one man enters into the midst of people waving a Pakistani flag and igniting cheers of “Paki-stan!”, “Paki-stan!”.

The monotonous tone of the crowd ushered into chanting by a leader dressed in military garb, shows the audience in Wagah that on the other side of a border, a country steeped in religion and tradition still stands strong. For those gathered on the Pakistani side of the gate, the ceremony seems less a celebration, and more of a duty – a reminder to those in Wagah, and perhaps the world, that the people of Pakistan remain. The ceremony in Wagah is definitely something every tourist should experience for as long as it remains open, and safe. Read more about the ceremony from the view of a blogger from the Pakistani side of them border, here!

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