Welcome to the Wagah Border, where the Indian and Pakistani soldiers engage in a 30-minute display of military camaraderie and showmanship. But it’s not just about the soldiers; the people visiting here also partake in the entertainment, as they chant the Indian national anthem and dance to Hindi songs like it’s a Bollywood movie.
The Beating Retreat Ceremony, as it is popularly known, is a military practice carried out with absolute seriousness by the Indian Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers. It’s a symbol of the rivalry between the two nations, as well as the cooperation and brotherhood between them. The aggression and anger have been toned down a lot over the years, and since 2011, even women guards of BSF have been a part of this ceremony.
When you visit the Wagah Border, you’ll see a massive gate inscribed as “Swarn Jayanti Dwar,” and from the top of this gate, you can witness a panoramic landscape of Wagah. But before that, you need to arrive at least an hour before the ceremony, as not everyone can get in. And beware, there are jammers in the areas surrounding the Wagah Border, so no mobile phone services are available.
Once you get through the significant rush at the entrance gate, you’ll be taken to the appropriate stands. Women must queue on the right, and men on the left. Proper seating arrangements are made for the visitors, and select seats are reserved for women, while general seating is allowed for men. It’s like a stadium, so you’ll get a similar view irrespective of where you happen to get a seat.
But if you’re a foreign national, there’s a separate stand just behind the VIPs. It’s the second-best seat in the house, so don’t forget to carry your passport to claim it. Cameras are permitted, but you’re not allowed to carry bags, whether large or small. Lockers are available beside the entrance gate to keep your belongings at the cost of INR 50.
And if you get hungry, don’t worry; there are food stalls located close to the entrance that serve bottled water and some snacks. Just make sure you’re back in time for the Beating Retreat Ceremony, which starts at 4:15 PM in winter and 5:15 PM in summer, and lasts for about 45 minutes.
Visiting the Wagah Border and experiencing the Beating Retreat Ceremony is utterly gripping, one which leaves you full of pride and patriotism! So, come witness the military display of camaraderie and showmanship, and don’t forget to dance to some Bollywood tunes while you’re here!