The Wagah Border is the only public border straddling Pakistan and India, 27 km from Amritsar, India and 29 km from Lahore, Pakistan. Every evening, during a flag ceremony, both countries lower their respective flags in a highly-publicized event. Hundreds, or even thousands of local and foreign spectators attend to witness such a parade, and during the ceremony, the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and the Pakistan Rangers rival each other with their energy and passion in taking down the flags and marching down the street, exuding a sense of smug superiority with every stride. The enduring tension and scaled aggression is almost palpable, as if a warzone is about to break out any moment. Fortunately, I’m happy to report that it’s perfectly safe (well, safe in the sense that you won’t be the victim of those daunting muskets, but be prepared to have your personal space grossly invaded) and is more of a public spectacle, if anything. The ceremony, entertaining to say the least, took the lessons out of the stale confines of my political history class and instilled a newfound vitality into my understanding of the India-Pakistan rivalry. If you’re not familiar with the tensions between both countries, I would highly suggest reading up on it beforehand; it’ll help to put the ritual into perspective. It can get quite crowded, so early arrival is also advised.
I remember this ceremony very vividly from my study abroad experience and unfortunately, I also remember mosquitos forcedly making my body their playground, so if there’s one thing I can recommend: LOTS and LOTS of mosquito repellant! I also recall going deaf for a few hours after the ceremony, so if loud, cacophonous cheering is not your thing, I’d rethink your visit.