World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

“Over the borderline” – Madonna.

World Borders: How To Watch The Border Ceremony At Wagah | Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border

I copied Palin again. These journeys are wild. As a child and teenager, I’d watch a load of Michael Palin travel documentaries. I never really thought I’d be able to replicate him. I watched 80 Days Around The World, Full Circle, New Europe, The Hemingway Adventure, Pole To Pole…it was all a big dream trying to be like him.

Michael Palin getting his booze permit in Gujarat, India (1980s)

Jonny Blair getting his booze permit in Gujarat, India (2016)

I usually watched them with Dad. These days, when I return to Northern Ireland, I still watch Michael Palin with Dad. I also now watch the Joanna Lumley and Michael Portillo travel documentaries. In between, my copycat adventures of Michael Palin included sinking a Singapore Sling, crossing into North Korea at Panmunjom, the Yangtze at Chongqing and the booze permit in Strict Gujarat. Weirdly, on the 1st January 2023 while sipping a Michelada by the bay in New Providence Island, The Bahamas, I ended up drinking with William Palin!! Michael Palin’s son!!

Actually drinking with Michael Palin's son - full circle madness or what??

Actually drinking with Michael Palin’s son – full circle madness or what??

All of that history faded into insignificance however as this is my journey and it sauntered on, leading me to Pakistan. My first port of call in Pakistan was to be Lahore. Here, I booked into the excellent Rose Palace Hotel, tried some local cuisine and the plan was to backpack the sights of Lahore, cross the river and tour Shahdarah Bagh and maybe I could see the border ceremony at Wagah. After that, I would be heading to the Pakistani seaside resort city of Karachi. Pakistan, also was my final “Stan” country in my jigsaw!

I Heart Pakistan – my final STAN in 2023

I have crossed over 300 borders down the years from sea borders, to bus borders, to flight borders, to bridge borders, to land borders, to walking borders. Here are some of my memorable border crossings below, though most I have never written about (including Togo to Benin, Lesotho to South Africa, Botswana to Zambia, Mozambique to Malawi…).

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About Wagah, Pakistan

The place you need to head to is called WagahĀ (Punjabi:Ā ŁˆŲ§ŚÆŚ¾Ų§;Ā Urdu:Ā ŁˆŲ§ŪŚÆŪ), also spelled Wagha or Wahga and it is a village east of Lahore City District, Pakistan. The town is famous for theĀ Wagah border ceremonyĀ and also serves as a goods transit terminal and aĀ railway stationĀ betweenĀ PakistanĀ andĀ India.

Welcome to the Wahga Border

That’s its purpose – the border. Wahga is situated 600 metres (2,000 feet) west of the border and lies on the historic Grand Trunk Road between Lahore and Amritsar in India. The border is located 24 kilometres (15 miles) from Lahore and 32 kilometres (20 miles) from Amritsar. It is also 3 kilometres (1.9 miles) from the bordering village of Attari, India. The Wagah ceremony takes place every evening. I asked if that is true 365 days a year and they confirmed it. That means this border ceremony is ALWAYS on, everyday. I was surprised by that. I thought it was be semi-regular, and definitely not on public holidays. In fact, I even thought there was a chance that I would miss it, since I only had two full days in Lahore.

Backpacking Pakistan at the India Border – Wagah

Getting to Wagah

My advice for visiting Wagah is definitely not to stay there, or nearby. You are better just to stay in Lahore. It’s really not far and no hassle to travel here from Lahore with the sole purpose of watching the border parade. The road out of Lahore is really obvious – it’s a single road all the way to the border and is well signposted too.

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

After researching, I discovered there is no actual tourist bus or mini-bus from Lahore out to this border at Wagah. This could change of course, and there may be some hotels or tour companies that run such a bus, but I certainly didn’t see or hear of anything like that. Online I did find a Wagah Tours site though. Also – I was the only foreign tourist here at Wagah. There was nobody else, and during my entire time in Lahore, I saw only 2 other “white” tourists – at the Fort in Lahore.

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

The Road To Wagah, out of Lahore

So this leaves you with either walking, hitch-hiking, getting a taxi, hiring a car, hiring a driver, a rickshaw or a tuk tuk. For me, it was a no brainer. I had a reliable tuk tuk driver already who had shown me all around the sights of Lahore city. His name was Asif. As if I would change to a new driver from Asif!

Asif And I – My Tuk Tuk Driver To Wagah

Asif was a good guy as he tailored my trips in and around Lahore for me, I liked him and he was honest – he wasn’t ripping me off and also tried hard to get me into the cricket stadium when security was tight.

Tuk Tuk loyal to Wagah

Asif And I – My Tuk Tuk Driver To Wagah

Pakistan is cheap for me, but it’s also important to respect that my driver will drive me there, have to wait for 1 and a half hours, then drive me back. I paid him 1,000 Pakistani Rupees (Ā£2.72 Northern Irish pounds, just over $3 US Dollars) each way for this, so Ā£5.50 in total. I felt he was worth it. You could get it cheaper I am sure, but I was fine with this. In fact, as my travels go, this is one of the best Ā£5.50 I have ever spent.

The unmissable Pakistan flag at the border

We left Lahore around 16.00 (4 p.m.) and the journey takes around an hour to get to Wagah. Please note that traffic in Lahore is mayhem and you might want to leave earlier. I pushed it a bit by leaving so late and in the end, I had to dash quickly on arrival at Wagah. Also – please check the time of the border ceremony as I heard conflicting reports. Some sources said it starts at 16.00 (4 p.m.), others at 17.00 (5 p.m.). On my trip, September 2023, the exact start time was 17.15 (5.15 p.m.). This can change depending on season/weather/special days or even emergencies like COVID or war could affect that. My driver Asif and I left Lahore around 4 p.m. and I made it to the seat for just after 5.15 p.m. Entry is free, there is no booking needed, there were plenty of free seats.

Backpacking Pakistan at the India Border – Wagah

Arrival In Wagah

When you arrive in Wagah, you need to get out of your vehicle. We were told that tuk tuks were not allowed up to the border, so Asif went to park and he would wait there for me. I would attend the border ceremony on my own, and then come back to him afterwards. Others were doing this – they were all locals.

Backpacking Pakistan at the India Border – Wagah

I took my backpack with me – inside my water, books, maps, flags, hat, sunglasses, coat etc. After leaving my driver Asif, there were 3 security checks with police and army. At two of these checks, my bag was checked but was allowed through. At one point, I thought they might stop me going to watch it – I thought my chance had gone. But in the end, the border police were actually very friendly – they were just doing their job. It’s standard for borders the world over. The walk was quite long! After leaving my tuk tuk driver, I’d say the walk was over a mile or about 2 kilometres to the border point.

The long walk to the border at Wagah – Pakistan to India

However, motorbikes are allowed closer than tuk tuks and I met two local Pakistani guys on a motorbike after the third checkpoint and they kindly let me hop on theback and drove me right down, almost to the entrance to the ceremony, a brown and white building, which will see in the photos.

The long walk to the border at Wagah – Pakistan to India

The Pakistan flag at the border

The Pakistan flag at the border

By the way, you can’t miss the border – you see the huge flags ahead – the Pakistan one on my side and the Indian one in the distance. It’s one obvious road down to the border – just keep walking straight. On both sides, left and right you will see a lot of Pakistani pictures, murals and information. It’s like an outdoor museum on route here.

Many murals, photos and information boards on the way to the border

Many murals, photos and information boards on the way to the border

Many murals, photos and information boards on the way to the border

Many murals, photos and information boards on the way to the border

Many murals, photos and information boards on the way to the border

Many murals, photos and information boards on the way to the border

Many murals, photos and information boards on the way to the border

There are also a lot of vendors here – selling food, drink, ice cream, and souvenirs where especially Pakistan flags are common. I bought some coconut. There are some shops too and a cafe. You are also free to take photos and make videos here, though obviously not of the police, soldiers and army bases. I photographed the road, the shops and the information.

Many murals, photos and information boards on the way to the border

The Arrival arch on the Pakistan side

Shops and cafes near the border

Coconut sellers

Coconut at the Pakistan to India border

The Arrival arch on the Pakistan side

Once you get to the brown building at the border, simply go inside and take a seat! There are no tickets, no payments, no bookings, no seat reservations – just head in and sit down!

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

The Actual Ceremony At Wagah – India To Pakistan Border

In terms of the actual ceremony, the photos below, and the 14 videos even further below will show and tell it all. That’s what you are here for. It’s a spectacle and I was overawed by it – it actually blew my mind and was better than I expected. It was a full one hour ceremony and it was very detailed and very well rehearsed. I was also very surprised by the attendance. There are two huge stadiums here, one on the India side, and one on the Pakistan side. Both were fairly full and vociferous. Both sides sing, chant, march and banter each other. Despite the history, the hatred of the past and the cricket rivalry, this is actually a very peaceful and enjoyable border ceremony!

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

Backpacking Pakistan at the India Border – Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

The others in attendance on my side were all from Pakistan, it’s a very family friendly audience and many kids love it. If you are foreign, they will notice you and chat to you. I enjoyed chatting to some locals and they posed with my Northern Ireland flag. Once the sun was beginning to set, I made the walk back to my driver.

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

World Borders: How To Watch The Famous Pakistan šŸ‡µšŸ‡° To India šŸ‡®šŸ‡³ Border Ceremony At Wagah

My driver, Asif waited for me and as we drove away, it was another of those emotional moments that I knew I wouldn’t be back there – at least not on this side of the border. If I ever make it back to India, I will be sure to visit Amritsar so that I can see this exact same ceremony from the Indian side. It offered me reminders of Panmunjom in the DMZ at The South Korea-North Korea border. At that border, I visited the South Korea side in 2011 (on Christmas Eve), before necking a Guinness on the North Korean side in 2013.

Crossing into North Korea at Panmunjom from the South Korea side in 2011

Crossing into North Korea at Panmunjom from the South Korea side in 2011

jonny blair guinness border

Necking a Guinness at the North Korea to South Korea border at Panmunjom on the North Korea side in 2013

For this lifetime, as the smoggy sunsky faded and I wheeled back into Lahore, my short visit to Wagah had been, and gone. Thank you.

Here are some videos I made at the border ceremony at Wagah:

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