Running by holding an India flag high in my hands

Towards the India-Pakistan border till the gate that separates us 

Surrounded by hundreds of people cheering loudly 

With thumping music playing in the background 

Is something which I had never imagined would happen to me

Is something which made me feel so proud of my nation 

Is some electrifying feeling that made me held my head high !

We wanted to make a visit to the Wagah border / Attari border and it materialised on our recent vacation. Wagah is part of Pakistan, attached to this border and Atari is part of India, attached to this border. The flag-lowering ceremony at this place has been taking place since 1959 and is being followed jointly by the military forces of India and Pakistan. This ceremony takes place every day in the evening before sunset and huge crowds flow in to live in the experience. Since our visit here happened here towards the end of March, it was little hot but that didn’t make the numbers less. 

We started from our hotel at Amritsar by 1:30, stopped for our lunch at the much famed Brother’s Dhaba (more on this later) on the way and were at the border by 2:30. People aren’t allowed to carry anything except water bottles, wallet and camera. After getting security checked in a pretty long line, we were seated in a big auditorium by 3:30. Sitting right under the hot sun was the only uncomfortable factor, but we subsided it by wearing caps, hats and sunglasses. People started flowing in and after a while, the music too started playing. All in all, the total atmosphere has got some energy in it. From this place, we could see Indian gate, the Pakistan gate, and the crowds assembled on the side of Pakistan. And there were people selling snacks and cool drinks, and the good thing about that is that they were all being sold at MRP. After a while, someone who is part of running the show started energising the crowd with slogans and then he was the one who gave people a chance to run around with the flag in their hands . And I duly took the opportunity 😊
At around 5, the actual ceremony began, with our military forces performing some extraordinary parade. The military officials on both the ends open the gates, meet, shake hands and then lower the flags and then finally close the gates. All this takes around 30 minutes and it is worth watching. The whole thing was so electrifying that even A started cheering loudly , as loud as she could, and forgot all about the heat and crowd.

The panaromic view !
p.s. We didn’t know about the VIP passes, but it looked like getting those passes would get one a better seat and a better view.


Jallianwala Bagh

A place that left me with more questions than answers…

We visited this place on our recent vacation and we walked around it, the historic place where hundreds of innocent Indians were fired at for about 10 minutes, where so many lost their lives for no fault of theirs, where the British left their ugly impressions. 

The narrow passage through which the shooting started is still there, the bullet marks on the walls could still be seen, the well into which so many people jumped into in order to save their lives but couldn’t succeed, is still there covered with a fence. 

The place stands as a memorial for all those patriots, who had met there for a non violent discussion.

While the place evoked a sense of patriotic spirit in me, the same place left me with so many questions of 
How well is the freedom being used now ?

Is the freedom that has came to us after so much struggle and after so many sacrifices used in the way that it deserves ?

Do we have the same unity amongst us, Indians, to grow as a nation, that we had to fight back the British ?

Can you see the inscriptions of names of hundreds of people who lost their lives here in this massacre ?

Amrit Sarovar

It was 10 days ago that we had the opportunity to visit this sacred place, the Golden temple surrounded with the holy lake Amrit Sarovar, which was dug by the fourth Sikh guru, which gave the name Amritsar to its city. It was Maharaja Ranjit Singh who covered the gurudwara with gold and gave it the name Golden temple.

Quite some time back, I watched a programme on TV , which showed the Golden Temple and its langar. From then on, I had this desire to visit the place and take some participation in the langar. And then around a month back, we started discussing about where we could visit to have a vacation, and then we picked up Amritsar. A got a 3-week break before her next academic year started last week and we thought the break would be a perfect fit for our vacation plans. So we finalised and went ahead and we came back from our vacation last week.

We took an early morning flight from Hyderabad till Amritsar. Though we reached Amritsar by 1, we headed to the temple only in the evening. The Golden temple premises are vast, and so the huge crowd didn’t seem a problem. The temple is too beautiful in the night with all the lights and their reflections. Fortunately, the climate wasn’t too harsh, as the summer hasn’t picked up yet. We spent a good 3 hour time in the sanctum. One thing we saw for the first time, is that there’s a little pool of water before the entrance, there by, making you wash your feet, as you walk through that pool into the temple. A was super excited with it and washed her feet on exit too. There’s a bridge which you cross to enter the holy place, and the walk along that feels wonderful. We couldn’t proceed to the langar after that as we were completely exhausted, owing to our travel that started as early as 2:30 A.M.
Though a visit to langar was on our list, we couldn’t materialise it, as A co-operated much beyond expectation and we couldn’t demand more from her. May be next time, we will get a chance to experience that too.

It was a sight to watch thousands of people of all ages, with deep faith within, coming from different places, to take the blessings of the Almighty. Am glad that we too could be a part of it.

Watch out! More on our travel experiences coming soon 😊