Wagah Border India – Parade Timings, How to Reach, Transport and Tips

Amritsar had been high on my “Must Visit Places” list so when I finally got to visit the place, I was looking forward to visiting the holy Golden temple, historic Jallianwala Bagh, the Partition Museum and the ‘Beating the retreat ceremony’ between India and Pakistan at Wagah border (Also known as Attari Border Ceremony).

After offering my prayers at the Golden Temple, I returned back to the hostel I was staying at. The hostel staff intimated about the group trip being organized the next day for the Wagah border and I immediately joined in.

So, the next day we began our one hour journey towards the Wagah border in a minibus along with a staff person from the hostel who had frequented this place many times.

The Wagah-Atari border is famous for the ceremony called ‘beating the retreat’ ceremony where the Border Security Force from India and Pakistan Rangers from Pakistan, put up a coordinated show together.

This Post is about my visit to the Attari Wagah Border near Amritsar in Punjab State of India.

If you are in Amritsar, I would highly recommend visiting the Holy Golden Temple.

Where is Wagah Border situated? Wagah border is situated at the borderline of India and Pakistan and is located at a distance of around 32 km from the city of Amritsar on the Grand Trunk road between Lahore and Amritsar From this border, Lahore is just 22 km away. I made it a point to click pictures at the milestone bearing ‘Lahore 22 km’.

What is the Beating the Retreat Ceremony?

The Wagah-Atari border is famous for the ceremony called ‘beating the retreat’ ceremony where the Border Security Force from India and Pakistan Rangers from Pakistan, put up a coordinated show together.

The ceremony starts with an intensely fierce parade by the soldiers from both the countries and ends up in the perfectly coordinated lowering of the two nations’ flags. It is called the Beating Retreat Border ceremony.

This tradition is being followed since 1959 and displays more of a sportsman spirit rather than a formal ceremony.

Being a person with Army background, I was very excited to watch the whole ceremony. I had deliberately not seen any videos about this ceremony, so I was not sure what exactly to expect. I wanted it to surprise me and so it did.

After walking for a few hundred metres from parking place, we entered the stadium kind of place through a huge gate named ‘Swarn Jayanti Dwaar’.

We reached the stands at 4.15 pm. As we had a VIP pass we got the best seats in the area.

What is VIP Pass for the Wagah Border Ceremony?

When this trip was being finalised, our guide asked if any of us had a family member or friend serving in defence forces.

One of us had a friend serving in Indian Army who was contacted regarding this a day before the trip.

He asked for the details of all of the group members and contacted the authorities for pass.

While on our way to the Wagah border, we stopped midway at a BSF establishment in Khasa.

There, we contacted the officials regarding our pass. We were given a serial number which we intimated to the officials on the entry gate at Wagah border.

No pass is required to attend the parade. VIP pass just helps you with better seating arrangements. Without pass, you would have to sit in unreserved general area.

If you are looking for spiritual experiences in India especially in Varanasi and Amritsar, then the following posts will be helpful to you.

Participating as the flag bearer at Wagah Border

It was sheer luck that as soon as we entered the stadium, we noticed a lady officer asking girls to queue up. Our guide encouraged us to move fast and join. She had told us earlier that there is a ceremony in the beginning where women get to hold the flag and run in the arena.

Soon, many women lined up behind us.

We were three girls in the group excluding our guide. All three of us were in the first batch of five women given the Indian flag.

They handed one flag to each of us and told us to run till the rope barrier, take a u-turn to the starting place.

We ran with child-like enthusiasm with the song “Meri jaan tiranga hai..’ playing in the background.

After finishing the round, we handed over flags to the officers which were given to the women standing next in line.

This continued for around ten minutes till all the women standing in the line had their chance.

Pro-Tip: If you would like to be a part of this ceremony, I would recommend you to keep an eye on the women officers standing near the entry gate ‘ Swarn Jayanti Dwaar’. This is where they ask lady volunteers to queue up. You won’t be allowed to stroll around or wait near the gate before actually asked to make a line. So, as soon as you notice any such movement, just run and join in.

Any female can volunteer for this but I didn’t notice any child running with the flag. The length and weight of the flag could be the reason for this.

I was elated with this experience but it seemed unfair that males could not participate. I really felt bad for the male members of our group. When we returned to our seats, they showed us our pictures and videos they had captured while we were having fun. It was so unfair to them.

Dancing & Singing at Wagah Atari Border

On the Indian side, a BSF officer anchored the whole show and kept the energy and fervour high among the visitors.

Females in the stands were invited by him to dance together in the arena and I was not going to miss this opportunity.

Along with young girls, many older women dressed in bright colourful attires joined in and showed some traditional dance moves.

The energy and zeal was contagious. People in the stands were not able to stop themselves from dancing at their seats when songs like ‘Jai Ho’, ‘India wale’, ‘Sabse aage honge hindustani’ were played back to back.

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The Pakistani Side of Wagah Border: As seen from Indian Side

Visitors sitting on the other side of the border (in Pakistan) could be easily seen from this side.

The crowd on the Indian side outnumbered the crowd on the Pakistani side.

A man was beating the ‘dhol’ to cheer up the crowd on that side.

After this, a group of Indian soldiers marched down to the stadium and went till the border gates.

The group was led by two women officers and it was indeed a proud moment to watch.

Similarly, soldiers from Pakistan march towards the gates. When the soldiers from both sides came face to face, it looked like a ‘face off’ game was being played. To be honest, it looked quite amusing to me.

While marching towards the border gates, soldiers from both sides raise their legs higher than normal showcasing their strength and aggression.

On reaching the gates, they stand in different poses as if challenging the soldiers on the other side. They stomp the ground hard with their feet and exhibit pride and fierceness on their faces.

It looked like they were challenging the soldiers on the other side playfully and some undeclared competition was going on.

Meanwhile the anchor was busy keeping the ‘josh’ high among the audience and encouraging them to clap more, cheer for the soldiers and shout slogans like ‘vande mataram’ and ‘bharat mata ki jai’.

To some people, the ceremony parade may seem stretching longer than required and over dramatic.

At sunset, after a formal handshake the flags of the countries are taken down and folded respectfully to be returned to their places. Gates are closed from both sides. With this, the entire ceremony comes to an end filling each one of the audience with a sense of pride and respect for the nation and its soldiers.

When is the best time to reach to witness the beating retreat at Wagah Border?

PC: Indiatvnews

It’s best to reach as early as around 3 pm to get the seats closer to the border gates. Front seats near the gates are the best to get a better view of the ceremony. If you are able to secure a VIP pass with your contacts in the defence forces, it gets a lot easier as these stands are not crowded.

There are separate areas assigned for foreign tourists, VIPs and general public.

Eating and Drinking facility at the Wagah Border

There are stalls outside the stadium selling soft drinks, water and snacks. Even during the ceremony vendors come to the stands to sell eatables, drinks, flags, caps etc to the visitors.

Toilet Facility at the Wagah Border

Paid toilets are located outside the stadium a few hundred metres away from the main arena of the ceremony. Despite charging a fee to use them, they were not as clean as they should be.

These posts will help you plan your trips so that you stay safe and healthy.

Is photography of the parade allowed?

It came as a surprise that photography/videography of the whole ceremony and even taking pictures with the soldiers was allowed. We wanted to have a picture with the officer anchoring the event and we managed to get it. Due to security reasons, you won’t get mobile network in this area.

Pro Travel Tip: If you have to make any calls, do it before you reach.

Are bags allowed at Wagah Border?

Bags (including ladies’ purse) are not allowed inside.

We left all our belongings in the van with the driver and carried with us our phones, some money and Identity proofs.

Cigarettes and similar items are strictly prohibited. If you have any with you, you have to get rid of it at the security check.

Security check may be more strict on occasions like Independence Day, Republic Day etc.

If there is any tension going on between the two countries, the ceremony may be canceled for that time.

Can Non Indians attend the Wagah Attari Border Parade?

Yes, anyone can attend this parade. Non-Indians must carry their passport with them for attending this parade. There is a separate queue for foreign tourists at the security check and a designated seating area. The area designated for foreign tourists is usually not crowded.

Wagah Border Ceremony tickets and parade timings

There is no ticket for this ceremony. It is free for all. The ceremony begins around 4:15 pm during winters and 5.15 pm during summers and lasts for about an hour. The timing changes depending on the season so make sure you double check before you go.

Pro Tip: The front rows at the stands are not covered or shaded. Only the top few rows at the back are covered and most of the seating area is open. It is good to carry sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat to stay safe from the sun.

What is the distance from parking to entry point?

One has to walk around 500 metre from the parking place to the main place where the ceremony is held. There is assistance provided for the physically disabled person for which the staff can be contacted at the premises.

Wagah border official website

There is no official dedicated website for Wagah- Atari border. Punjab tourism official website can be accessed for details.

Amritsar to Wagah border bus fare / Shared autos

Buses, shared and private cabs are easily available from the Golden temple for wagah border tour. Travel agents can be found shouting for this tour and one can ask hotel/hostel staff to arrange for this too

Bus and shared auto costs around Rupees 100 per person. Hop-on hop-off tourist bus would cost around Rupees 250.

Amritsar to Wagah border taxi fare

Hiring a private taxi would cost approx Rupees 1500 onwards for a round trip. Taxi and cabs are easily available from Golden temple, Amritsar Railway station and bus stand.

One can also book  a cab through apps like Ola, Uber etc. for Wagah border from any location in Amritsar.

It’s economical and convenient to hire a taxi for two or more people.  

When is the best time to go to Wagah Border?

When is the best time to go to Wagah Border? To enjoy the ceremony, it is advisable to visit Wagah border during winters between the months of October and March. During the rest of the months, the sun is very harsh.

I have heard many people wonder if the Wagah border is the same as the Atari border? The Pakistani side of this border is known as Wagah Border and the border at Indian side is called Atari border. Both terms are often used interchangeably by people.

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This place is also called Wagah-Atari border.

This border falls on the Radcliffe line that divided India into two countries (India and Pakistan) in 1947.   With the demarcation of this border, many hearts and families were divided along with division of places between two countries. A divide that has kept rising with time.

‘Wagah’ became a part of Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947. ‘Atari’ is a village in India which is also the nearest railway station to this border.

Where to stay in Amritsar

If you are backpacker, check out the Backpacker’s Nest. Set in the heart of Amritsar, 700 m from Golden Temple, Backpacker’s Nest features free WiFi access and free private parking. For more details, reviews & Booking click here.

If you’re not a backpacker, check out Ramada Amritsar. Located barely 1 km from the prominent Gurudwara, Golden Temple, Ramada Amritsar features an outdoor swimming pool and fitness center and offers 2 dining options. For more details, reviews & Booking click here.

Wagah Border Retreat Ceremony Video

In this Video by sahil rana you can witness the Attari Wagah Border Beating Retreat Ceremony.

I would highly recommend visiting the Partition Museum before witnessing the Wagah border beating retreat ceremony.

Not only did I get to know about the political history of both the countries and the circumstances of the partition but also understood the beating retreat ceremony.

If you are in Amritsar visiting the Golden Temple then a trip to the Wagah Border is a must-see.

Click here to read my detailed 2600 words post India’s Golden Temple in Amritsar: The Only Guide You Need.

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