For a very long border (3223 km) there are very few border crossings. The most famous is the Wagah-Attari border crossing where each evening there is an elaborate border closing ceremony. Suchetgarh, Jammu has a similar but smaller ceremony as does the closed border crossing at Hussainiwala. There are also a rail crossing at the Attari border.
Each evening a elaborate, well coordinated border closing ceremony occurs where the the security forces of India (Border Security Force, BSF) and Pakistan (Pakistan Rangers) engage in choreographed displays of marching, kicking their legs higher than seems possible, stamping of feet and mock displays of aggression ending with the briefest of handshakes as the flags are lowered.
As a foreign tourist (suitably armed with passport) I was able to access the VIP section which is near the gate, Indian tourists are some way back from the ceremony. Before the ceremony their is a carnival atmosphere, with dancing, singing and the chanting of patriotic and nationalist songs. It is impossible not to be caught up in the atmosphere.
Lots of signs telling you where you are. Plus its a border crossing so lorries and food stands are everywhere.
Before the Ceremony
Sitting in the VIP enclosure it was just a riot of sounds and images with dancing, women running with Indian flags towards the border gates, and singing and chanting.
At the precisely timed moment the troops march together in front of the crowds and then in pairs or singularly towards the gates in dramatic and mock aggressive gestures. Each side mirrors the others. The crowds cheer their respective troops. It was both dramatic and amazing to watch. Photographing from the East meant the sun was not really in the right position.
After the Ceremony
After the ceremony it was possible (although we all were encouraged to leave) to approach the closed gates. I noticed that some Indian families from the VIP section were allowed to walk along the border to another section and I was able to persuade an Indian BSF Captain to allow me to do so too. This allowed a close up view of the border and a further glimpse into Pakistan across a rope to see the Pakistani Rangers close up. BM #102 bagged. I would see myself as lucky as no other foreign tourists were allowed.
Date of Visit: 06/08/2012