The guards are extremely tall, taller than me (i'm 6ft 2") which I'd not encountered elsewhere in India, and are just like beanpoles with big high shoes and wearing khaki uniforms with kind of red and yellow tartan belts and fans sprouting up out of their hats. The Pakistani guards where black uniforms with red belts and black fans in their hats.
Dancing girls and crowd
Young Indian girls started dancing and clapping on the road before the ceremony started and then a few people ran up and down carrying large Indian flags. A guy with a microphone was encouraging the Indians to shout "HINDUSTAN" (what the locals call India). The Pakistani's actually sounded louder than the Indians by chanting "PAKISTAN" over and over again.
Gates and the border
As you walk round towards the grandstands you pass along the border itself which is fenced off with barbed wire and police on horseback. You then pass by the border gates which has one set with "INDIA" written on them and the countries national colours and the other set with Pakistan's national flag on. The gates are closed before the ceremony starts, then they are opened when the ceremony kicks off and then closed again at the end of the ceremony.
As you approach the border complex, you'll first see an entrance gateway going over the road. I walked along a path to the right that went right up to the border with police on horseback and high fences all around and then past the border gates. I then walked away from the gates along the road that leads straight through the border and could see the Pakistani crowd sitting in the grandstands whilst I headed for the Indian grandstands. One stand was just for women whilst another (nearest the gates) was empty until the guards let a couple of westerns through. I joined them and I stood right on the edge so as to get a good view. The stand quickly filled up with other westerners and well to do Indians.
The border ceremony, on the border between India and Pakistan at Atari, is a surreal show of content. You can take a shared jeep to the border from outside the accomodation blocks within the Golden Temple (see my transport tips). You enter into a complex with concrete grandstands overlooking the border gates. The ceremony starts in the evening at about 5pm with a flurry of extra quick marching done by extremely tall beanpole like border guards with fans sprouting out of their caps towards the border gates from both sides. The entire ceremony is carefully choreographed by both sides so that it runs smoothly so it's all staged and for show but there is a great deal of campness and content towards each other. Bugals are played and the flags are lowered and then the border gates are shut and that's it - show's over!
Flag Lowering Ceremony
The Flag Lowering Ceremony of two nations are really exciting to watch! If you will visit India coming from Pakistan, better to cross the border first and wait anywhere in the atari border...anyhow, there are cafe/restaurants near the border for your rupees to spend! You cannot cross the border after the event since both gates will be closed!
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip