You simply cannot visit the City of Gardens and miss out on attending the spectacular military parade at the Wagah Border. 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.
The event is witnessed by hundreds of men, women and children chanting patriotic slogans on both sides of the Wagah Border crossing. 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.
But before we delve into the location of Wagah Border, its nearby attractions and discuss the timings of the ceremony, let’s first talk about the border itself and what the drill represents.
The Wagah-Attari border is situated on the road between Lahore and Amritsar. It is the only open-land border crossing between India and Pakistan. A majority of goods transported between the two countries also go through this point.
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.
The impressive parade also reminds the civilians of the sacrifices made by the military to safeguard the sovereignty of our country.
Needless to say, every Pakistani must visit the historic Wagah Border in Lahore at least once in their lifetime. In fact, even if you only have 24 hours to spend in Lahore, you need to add this activity into your itinerary.
Where is Wagah Border Located?
The Wagah Border is located some 27 kilometres from Lahore.
Depending on your location and the traffic situation, it takes about 40 to 50 minutes to reach the Wagah border crossing through Grand Trunk Road.
How to Reach Wagah Border?
With the Wagah Border Ceremony being one of the most famous tourist attractions in Lahore, you can easily find a cab to take you to the site for somewhere between PKR 2000 and 2500. The rates are bound to vary depending on your location.
A number of tour groups also organize guided trips to the border. Other than that, you can also travel in your personal car or rent one for the trip.
There are parking areas right outside Bab-e-Azadi, the entrance point for the area where the parade is held. The seating area is situated at a short walk from the drop-off point.
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.
Lahore-Wagah Shuttle Fare: PKR 30 per passenger.
Wagah Border Ticket Prices
One of the best things about the Wagah border parade in Lahore is that it is absolutely free. Whether you are a Pakistani national or a foreigner, you don’t have to pay any kind of entrance fee to attend the flag-lowering ceremony and partake in the event. All you need is your National Identity Card or another identification document to enter the premises. The foreigners, on the other hand, have to carry their passports.
However, you must reach the site as early as possible to grab the best seats. Ideally, you should be present at the Wagah Border an hour before the parade starts.
Wagah Border Timings
For those crossing Wagah Border from India to Pakistan or vice versa, the gates open at 9:00 AM and close at 5:00 PM. You have to show your visa-stamped passport and other travel documents to the officers to be able to cross the border from this point.
Meanwhile, the Wagah Border ceremony timings vary with the season as it is held daily before the sunset.
Wagah Border Parade Timings during Winter: 4:30 PM
Parade Border Parade Timings during Summer: 5:30 PM
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.
Interesting Fact: The Pakistani flagpole at Wagah is 400 feet tall, making it the largest in the region. Meanwhile, the one installed in Attari by India is about 360 feet tall.
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.
Although there are quite a few popular museums in Lahore, this particular museum is a must-visit for all history buffs.
How Long Should You Stay At Wagah Border?
It’ll take you approximately two and a half hours to visit the Azadi Museum, watch the Wagah Border Military parade and take a short tour of the nearby attractions.
Meanwhile, you can also take a look at our pick of the top hidden tourist destinations in Lahore and add them to your list of places to visit in the historical city. As for food and leisure, don’t forget to check out the iconic food streets in Lahore that are known for their delicious traditional food, vibrant atmosphere and exquisite taste.
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