Between Amritsar, India and Lahore, Pakistan is the Wagah Land Border. It is a complicated border with an even more complicated history. Although India and Pakistan are neighboring countries with a historic brotherhood among the people but not from govt’s perspective due to the current political situation. This in turn makes crossing the Wagah Border between India and Pakistan a unique point of entry.
However due to limited information about who can actually cross the Wagah Border it does make even experienced travelers question the ease of how it will be on the day. Crossing the Wagah Border from Amritsar, India to Lahore, Pakistan. Despite complicated tensions between India and Pakistan the Wagah Border is in fact quite a straightforward border crossing. Many travelers cross the Wagah Border every year in both directions. As long as you are pre-prepared with a correct visa you are allowed to cross the Wagah Border with a foreign passport.
The Wagah Border is currently the only crossing-point open to foreigners to travel by land between India and Pakistan. Although it is allowed to enter Pakistan with an e-visa/tourist visa at the Wagah Border it is not possible to enter India with the Wagah Border as your first port of entry. (You must enter India by air at the moment with an e-visa). If you have a multiple entry visa for India that is a different story. But the Wagah Land Border is currently not allowed as a first port of entry with a tourist e-visa for India.
Dating back to 1959, the traditional flag-hoisting and lowering ceremonies take place every morning and evening at the Pakistan-India border, which is considered one of the most popular tourist attractions in Lahore. However, it’s the Beating Retreat Drill held before the sunset that draws a large number of people every day. Therefore, whether you are visiting this historical city for work or leisure, you should definitely take some time out to witness the famous military demonstration at the Wagah Border in Lahore. As for the Wagah border ceremony, it is carried out by the officers of Pakistan Rangers who march in front of a large crowd with patriotic songs playing in the background.
However, it is much more than a show of pomp and bravado. While the parade is highly entertaining and invokes feelings of patriotism among those in attendance, the ceremony actually symbolizes both the rivalry and camaraderie between the two nations, as soldiers from both countries give each other a handshake before formally closing the border gate following the flag lowering ceremony.
Crossing the Wagah Border
First things first you need to get yourself to the Wagah Border crossing point known as Attari on the Indian side.
Getting to the Wagah Border (from Amritsar)
Although there are no direct flights between the two (in either direction), it takes about 40 minutes and is best done by taxi. (It is supposedly possible by bus but It is recommended forking out for a taxi for the most relaxing crossing prep). A taxi from Amritsar to the border costs around $20.
Driving distances to each border
- Amritsar to the Wagah Border: 32 km
- Lahore to the Wagah Border: 23k
Where to stay on each side of the border
- Amritsar: Hotel Sapphir
- Lahore: Rose Palace Hotel
Lahore-Wagah shuttle train
Just recently, Pakistan Railways revived the daily operations of Lahore-Wagah shuttle train after a long gap of 22 years. The shuttle, named as Rail Car, offers hassle-free commute to tourists and visitors who intend to witness the patriotic ceremony at the Wagah Border. The shuttle is scheduled to make three round trips to Wagah Border on a daily basis and make a stop at Jallo Park, Moghalpura and Harbanspura stations. Pakistan Railways have refurbished three passenger coaches for this purpose. In total, it can carry about 181 people at a time.
About the border crossing (a step by step guide)
Entering the border area
Your driver will park in a line of cars prior to entering the Indian passport control grounds. Your passport is checked here (you will need to get out of the taxi) and your driver’s license checked. The driver can enter and will drop you outside the Indian passport control building.
Exit the Indian side
The building is similar to a small airport terminal with immigration and customs checks before you are stamped out of India.
Bus to the border
Depending on the amount of people crossing at the same time you might need to wait for a full bus load before it departs. The bus is only a 2-3 minute drive to the Wagah Border line.
Crossing the border
This is the fun part! Grab your bag and walk across the border line between India and Pakistan. Your passport will be checked again here on each side. And it is possible to take a few minutes here and enjoy being right in the middle of two countries (this is literally the same road the Wagah Border parade marches up and down each evening).
The Pakistani passport control building is smaller and more laid back than the Indian side. You will process through more passport checks, immigration and customs and be warmly welcomed to Pakistan.
WAGAH BORDER SEATING ARRANGEMENT
The seating areas at Wagah Border are divided into the following categories:
• An enclosure for male visitors
• An enclosure for female visitors
• VIP enclosure (non-segregated)
• VVIP enclosure (non-segregated)
• Seating area for foreigners, delegates and government personnel.
Since you can’t reserve your seats in advance, you should ideally arrive at the location an hour before the parade is due to start. During the weekend, you should try and reach Wagah Border at least an hour and a half before the ceremony as it tends to get extremely crowded.
THE WAGAH BORDER FLAG-LOWERING CEREMONY
The Wagah Border ceremony begins an hour before sunset with the border guards dressed in their black uniforms performing the drill in front of a roaring crowd, executing impressive high-kicks.
Then, the guards on each side of the border open the gate and the flags of the two countries are lowered and folded simultaneously. This is followed by a handshake between the soldiers and a beating retreat. The large iron gates are then closed, signifying the end of the ceremony. The entire Wagah Border Gate Opening Ceremony lasts for about 45 minutes
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS NEAR WAGAH BORDER
Apart from watching the famous parade by the Pakistan Rangers and taking pictures in front of the gate separating Pakistan from India, visitors can also take a short walk around the premises. Walking along the white ropes signifying the zero-line, you can see Indian citizens standing on their side of the border just a few steps away.
The beautiful, manicured garden beside the seating area, known as Quaid-e-Azam Park, also features a wall illustrating the names, pictures and accomplishment of all the martyrs who were awarded Nishan-e-Haider.
It is the highest military gallantry award in Pakistan that literally translates to ‘Emblem of the Lion’ in Urdu. So far, it has been awarded to 10 martyrs for showing extraordinary bravery and courage. One of the biggest attractions at the Wagah Border, however, is the spectacular Azadi Museum opened by the Pakistan Rangers.
The museum, which draws a large number of visitors before the parade every day, was inaugurated in 2017 by former Pakistan Rangers Punjab Director General Major General Umar Farooq Burki. Located at a close distance from Bab-e-Azadi, the Azadi Museum not only features pictures depicting the history of Pakistan Rangers and the sacrifices made during the Pakistan Movement but also offers visitors to learn more about the history of our nation through its media library.