India Pakistan Border Ceremony – The Wacky Wagah Border Show

Written By: The Planet D

The India Pakistan Border Ceremony is not to be missed when visiting Punjab. This extremely sensitive area in India and Pakistan put their differences on hold, (or perhaps they show off their military might) and hold a show for spectators as the Wagah-Attari border crossing, closes for the evening.

We came quite close to the Pakistan border during our camel safari in Rajasthan and we admit, we felt a bit of unease as the border of India and Pakistan is extremely militarized and there is a lot of unrest.

In the desert, we thought we were pushing the envelope when we heard we were a mere 30 km away, however just outside of Amritsar in the state of Punjab a person can come as close as they can get without actually crossing the border.

The India Pakistan Border Ceremony

huge crowds watching the border security force

Every evening in a small town just 35 km from Amritsar, The India and Pakistan border security force put on a spectacular show.

These men are not trained performers, they are trained soldiers. But the dance they do will give any dancer a run for their money!

Thousands of people, tourists and locals flock to the grandstands to watch the friendly competition between India and Pakistan.

Crowds on Both Sides

Both Indian and Pakistani citizens come to the border to watch the show.

The event celebrates the closing of the border each evening. It’s an elaborate ceremony and it is packed.

The feeling is like a rock concert or football match and not to be missed.

We arrive at the India Pakistan border to several security checks before entering the grounds.

Grandstands surround both sides of the border and loud music blasts from loudspeakers.

People dance in the street to Jai Ho, All is well, We Twist and other Bollywood classics.

The atmosphere is festive, but this event is serious. 

The India Pakistan Rivalry

indian border security raise their swords
Getting Ready for the lowering of the flag ceremony

India and Pakistan have a strained relationship but at the border, differences are set aside and this is a peaceful moment of friendship and good old fashioned rivalry.

It feels more like a football match than a border crossing.

People around us wave flags and shout “Long Live India” along with many other chants and cheers. 

They pause just long enough for us to hear shouts from across the Wagah border of “Pak-I-Stan” which causes even more of an uproar.

The Ceremony Begins

india pakistan border indian soldier from the security force
It is serious businss

Once the sun starts to set, the music is turned off and the ceremony begins.

An emcee leads the crowd through cheers as the Indian border guards begin their marches.

These aren’t your ordinary every day marches.

No way, they are full-on with high kicks and skips. Arms are a swinging, heads are turning, and the melodrama is in full force.

It’s like something out of Monty Python more than watching a military ceremony.

Indian soldiers take turns running down the street towards the border at top speed with perfect erect posture. 

Their white spatterdashes over their military boots are a blur over their polished black boots and their high ornate rooster like hats are easy to spot.

The emcee silences the crowd

crowds of people at india pakistan border

For a brief moment, the border gate opens and you can see right through to Pakistan. India’s soldiers are dressed in green and Pakistan in black.

Soldiers from each side go through a series of strong poses, popping and locking their arms like a Russian dance before standing at attention.

The crowd roars

A friendly wave between spectators says, “Nice to meet you Pakistan!”

The guards’ exchange handshakes, and before you know it the gate closes again.

Flag Lowering Ceremony

gaurd and flags at pakistan india border

Both the Pakistani Rangers and the Indian Security Force carry their flags for the lowering ceremony. This happens on a daily basis and is a tradition that is taken seriously.

As the ceremony continues, the crowd goes wild.

Everyone wants to stand and cheer, but the guards keep a close eye and everyone must remain seated and orderly.

These guys and gals are heavily armed and you don’t want to disobey.

Border Ceremony Lasts 45 minutes

Chants, marches, running, and ceremony. It’s a frenzy of activity until the flags on either side are finally lowered.

Immediately the everyone in the crowd rushes to the side of the road. 

catching a glimpse of the border in pakistan

When I say everyone, I mean everyone.  Thousands of people are crushed against the chain gate to wait for the signal to go to the border.

We rush towards Pakistan for a closer view. We must stay on the Indian Border side, but manage to peer through the gates and snap our photos of this untouchable land.

It isn’t long before we are ordered out, and we begin our 1 km walk back to the parking area where we meet our taxi to take us back to Amritsar.

The crowd celebrates their patriotism all the way back and the energy is high.

We hop in our shared taxi as we drive back to Amritsar and say to ourselves, “What on earth did we just wintess?

The India-Pakistan Border ceremony is one of the most unique experiences of our lives.

Tips for Visiting the India Pakistan Border Ceremony

The India Pakistan border is located on Grand Trunk Road between Amritsar and Lahore in Pakistan. It takes about 45 minutes to get there from downtown Amritsar.

  • Shared taxi’s can be booked in Amritsar for 75 Rs per person.
  • These shared taxi’s are small and cram 8 people in.
  • If you pay 100 Rs per person you can go with 6 people for a more comfortable ride.
  • Private Taxi’s are 600 Rs
  • Taxi’s can be hired just outside of the Golden Palace or anywhere on the main street.
  • They start selling seats at 2:00 pm and you leave by approximately 3:30.
  • You arrive back in Amritsar by 7:30
  • No bags are allowed
  • Bring your Passport
  • Camera’s and water are allowed
  • $1 USD = 45 Rs

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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20 thoughts on “India Pakistan Border Ceremony – The Wacky Wagah Border Show”

  1. “It looks completely amazing and ridiculous!”… that sums up what looks like a great experience 😉
    Have to go there soon. Cheers.

    Reply
  2. I’ve been over this land border twice (we went to extend out Indian visas in Islamabad) and there was no crowd for this ceremony on either occasion, I’ve seen pictures like yours in various places and on television but when we were there I doubt that there was more than a 10 people. It was during a tense time (battle of Kargil) and both countries had just conducted their nuclear tests – so I would have expected this to have made it even busier … never mind, maybe next time!

    Reply
    • Wow Polly that must have been a tense time indeed to travel there. It still would be awesome because you would have had a better view than us. We kept having to strain our necks to see everything and this group of guys kept standing up in front of us even though they tell everyone to remain seated. It is impossible to do so though with that many people. I would love to experience it on both occasions. I hope India and Pakistan can find a peaceful way to settle their differences in the future.

      Reply
  3. Wow – I totally skipped this when I was in Amritsar and now I really regret it! It sounds incredibly unique – and a lot of fun too…I can just imagine right now all of the chanting and patriotism! 🙂
    .-= Shannon OD´s last blog ..A Little History…Chichén Itzá Maya Ruins =-.

    Reply
    • It was pretty surreal Shannon. We wouldn’t have known about it had we not met a guy in the Airport upon our return from Sri Lanka. We told him we were planning on going to Amritsar and he told us not to miss the border crossing. We may have skipped it too!

      Reply
    • We agree Earl. Amritsar was the highlight of India for us. Between the Golden Temples serenity and the high energy of the border ceremony, it was the most memorable experience of our entire trip to India.

      Reply
  4. This is one of the things we absolutely want to do when we hit north India. Love the description and the pictures. India’s relationship with Pakistan is so strained and it is great that people celebrate so joyously.
    .-= Akila´s last blog ..just another city: bangkok =-.

    Reply
    • Hey Akila, yes, when we heard about this ceremony we just had to do it ourselves. Amritsar was really great all around.

      Reply
  5. All we ever hear on our news in the US is about the tension and feuding between India and Pakistan – but this sounds amazingly downright civilized. I have great respect for people who find a way to keep things from boiling over, and even make what could be a boring, bureaucratic event into something so fun. As always, great photos!
    .-= Trisha Miller´s last blog ..Can a Blog Network Really Benefit You? =-.

    Reply
  6. This is one of the activities that is now on my to do list. It looks completely amazing and ridiculous!
    .-= Kyle´s last blog ..Get Your Fingers Away from my Bum-hole! =-.

    Reply