Wahga or Wagha is a village located in the Wahgah Zone of Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. The town is famous for the Wagah border crossing between India and Pakistan. It also serves as a goods transit terminal and a railway station between Pakistan and India. Wagah is situated 600 metres (2,000 ft) west of the border and lies on the historic Grand Trunk Road between Lahore Pakistan and Amritsar in India. The border is located 24 kilometres (15 mi) from Lahore and 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Amritsar. It is also 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) from the bordering village of Attari. The Wagah ceremony takes place every evening.
Wagah-Attari border Crossing Between India & Pakistan
The border crossing draws its name from Wahga village, near which the Radcliffe Line, the boundary demarcation line dividing India and Pakistan upon the Partition of British India, was drawn. At the time of the independence in 1947, migrants from India entered Pakistan through this border crossing. The Wagah railway station is 400 metres (1,300 ft) to the south and 100 metres (330 ft) from the border. Also,thousands of Muslim migrants entered india (Hindustan) through this route.
Border crossing ceremony
The Wagah-Attari border ceremony happens at the border gate, two hours before sunset each day.]The flag ceremony is conducted by the Pakistan Rangers and Indian Border Security Force (BSF), similar to the retreat ceremonies at Ganda Singh Wala/Hussainiwala border crossing and Mahavir/Sadqi International Parade Ground border crossing. A marching ceremony, known as the “Silly Walk ceremony”, is conducted each evening along with the flag ceremony. The ceremony started in 1986 as an agreement of peace, although there was not a conflict at that time. Other Middle Eastern nations have adapted similar ceremonies in recent years.
The lowering of the flags ceremony at the Attari-Wagah border is a daily military practice that the security forces of India (Border Security Force, BSF) and Pakistan (Pakistan Rangers) have jointly followed since 1959.The drill is characterized by elaborate and rapid dance like manoeuvres and raising legs as high as possible, which have been described as “colourful”. It is alternatively a symbol of the two countries’ rivalry, as well as brotherhood and cooperation between the two nations.
At the international border between India and Pakistan, the pomp and pageantry of the Beating Retreat and the Change of Guard within handshaking distance of the Indian and Pakistani forces makes for a most charming spectacle. Wagah, an army outpost on Indo-Pak border – between Amritsar and Lahore, is an elaborate complex of buildings, roads and barriers on both sides. The daily highlight is the evening “Beating the Retreat” ceremony. Soldiers from both countries march in perfect drill, going through the steps of bringing down their respective national flags. As the sun goes down, nationalistic fervour rises and lights are switched on marking the end of the day amidst thunderous applause.
This ceremony takes place every evening immediately before sunset at the Wagah-Attari border, which as part of the Grand Trunk Road was the only road link between these two countries before the opening of the Aman Setu in Kashmir in 1999. The ceremony starts with a blustering parade by the soldiers from both sides, and ends up in the perfectly coordinated lowering of the two nations’ flags. It is called the Beating Retreat border ceremony on the international level. One infantryman stands at attention on each side of the gate. As the sun sets, the iron gates at the border are opened and the two flags are lowered simultaneously. The flags are folded and the ceremony ends with a retreat that involves a brusque handshake between soldiers from either side, followed by the closing of the gates again. The spectacle of the ceremony attracts many visitors from both sides of the border, as well as international tourists. In October 2010, Major General Yaqub Ali Khan of the Pakistan Rangers decided that the aggressive aspect of the ceremonial theatrics should be toned down. The soldiers of this ceremony are specially appointed and trained for this auspicious ceremony. They also have a beard and moustache policy for which they are paid additionally.