Chaos at the border and a beautiful temple
Trip Start Jan 18, 2010
44Trip End Jul 30, 2010
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We arrived in the afternoon on Sunday and were convinced by our hotel manager to go to the India/Pakistan border closing ceremony at Wagah that evening. We weren't sure whether to go or not but since it had been made so easy for us we thought it'd be rude not to. Our expectations weren't particularly high as we'd seen it on the tv and knew that the numbers of people there would make it impossible to see anything.
We shared a taxi with an English couple and a really nice elderly Indian couple who were very talkative
When we arrived near the border we joined hundreds of other people heading towards the border gates and the grandstands. When we got there the crowds were vast and there were hundreds of people between us and the action. We managed to scrabble to the top of a very over full grandstand and catch a glimpse of the build up. Pop music was blaring out of loudspeakers and people were dancing on the road in front of the border gates. After about 10 minutes of being squashed and drenched in sweat (our own and many, many other peoples) we decided to try and get down from the grandstand and find an alternative spot to stand. Just when we thought we wouldn't see anything we managed to do the dumb foreigner routine and walk past the guards to sit on the kerb directly in front of the action!
The border is closed every night and they do the most over the top ceremony! Border guards in crisp uniforms with ridiculous wafer hats and outrageous moustaches try to out do each other on each side of the border while an mc whips the crowds into a frenzy. The guards began by shouting into a microphone for as long as they could and then proceeded to march towards the border gate
The next day we went to visit the Golden Temple which was unbelievable. Upon entering the complex you are greeted with the most amazing sight of the golden harmandir floating on a pool of water. Devotional music is piped around the complex and the whole place feels very special and spiritual. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the complex and watching people who were worshiping and bathing in the pool. We were regularly approached by friendly families who wanted to find out about us and introduce us to their children. Another experience to add to our ever increasing list of trip highlights.