“I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.”
This is the feeling you get when you visit the India-Pakistan border at Attari.
If you are in Punjab and not been to the Atari-Wagah border, you have definitely missed something in life.
Popularly known as Wagah border, which actually is Attari on Indian side and Wagah on Pakistan side, this place is a must-visit for every patriot, simply because it fills you with pride, joy and happiness.
After visiting the Jalianwallah Bagh, how could we miss this opportunity of visiting Attari as we were fresh from the memories of 1919 massacre at Amritsar. So this place (Attari border) with patriotic songs reminds us of the glory of our country and also about the sacrifices made by the martyrs during Freedom Struggle.
The Retreat ceremony…
The Retreat ceremony at Wagah/Atari border is a fabulous patriotism stirring ceremony held daily at the Indo-Pak border about an hour away from the heart of Amritsar.
We visited the ceremony in summer around July.
Being a journalist sometimes helps you so much. So one of my friend arranged VVIP passes for me and my friends and so we were in the first line at the ceremony, with Pakistan border just 20 meters away.
We reached the place around 4.30 pm and took our seats. Usually the ceremony starts at 6:00 pm during summers as sunset is delayed.
We arrived before everything commenced, sitting near the gates in the tourist section, the large grandstand holding thousands of locals holding their flags and readying for action. Wasn’t long before the BSF (Border Security Force) MC had the crowd in a controlled frenzy whilst on the Pakistan side of the border watched on seemingly bemused.
Talking about the ceremony, the atmosphere there is electrifying. There is a huge amphitheater style open stadium to sit and watch the ceremony.
The ceremony begins usually half an hour earlier when they play patriotic songs and invite women and girls to dance to the tunes.
After half an hour of fun and dance, the choreographed ceremony begins usually with the same steps on both the ends.
The crowd continuously cheers and shouts and the environment turns magical. The ceremony ends with folding of the flags at both the ends.
Lowering of Flags….
From then the ritual and well rehearsed performance on both sides of the border commenced with the high kicks, marching, threatening fist pumps at those doing similar things on the other sides of the gates until the gates opened to a massive cheer, all the time the very loud music keeping the excitement building. Eventually the flags of both nations were lower in perfect synchronisation with each other and the whole performance was over. Surprising and astonishing performance.
This is a must see for both the tradition and the spectacle. We recommend you buy a flag as flag waving is compulsory and great fun. The friendly rivalry between India and Pakistan in both the kicking and funny walk has a serious side to it and as a visitor you are reminded of the tensions that can emerge between the two states since the partition. However this is clearly something that both tourist and Indian can enjoy….and you get to wave to those in another country just 100yds away!
On the Pakistani side the 20 women there were brightly dressed… from head to toe. And far away from the men, who were less than 100.
Compared to the full Indian side, this looked pretty less.
Joint check post at Attari-Wagah Border:- Before partition, Lahore and Amritsar were the prominent cities and trade centres of the then undivided Punjab.
After partition of India and Pakistan a joint check post was established near Border Pillar No. 102 which is just on the historic Sher Shah Suri road or Grand Trunk Road. It is the starting point of the National Highway 01, Part of the historic GT Road and is also part of AH-1, the longest route of the Asian Highway Network. Attari village was the native village of Sardar Sham Singh Attariwala, one of the Generals in the Army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Village Wagah was the jagir of Jagirdar Sham Singh of Attari.
Beating the retreat ceremony was started in 1959 and it was agreed by the Govt of both the countries. In 1947, Indian Army was entrusted the responsibilities of ensuring security of joint check post situated on NH-1 join both the countries.
Initially the Kumaon Regiment of Army provided first contingent to man the JCP.
First flag hoisting ceremony was witnessed by Brig Mohinder Singh Chopra on 11th Oct 1947. During mid-1950s, JCP was taken over by Punjab Police.
First retreat ceremony of its kind was started in 1952.
There is a parking spot available just next to the security check up so avoid parking the car a kilometer before like some people might suggest just to make some money. The parking is huge and is just next to the check point. You definitely need your valid IDs to get through.
Trying reaching an hour before so that you are not rushed at the tolls, security lines and even while entering the parking lot.