We went across the Nepal India border into Nepal on 16-December on our way to Lumbini, and back the next afternoon.
The India – Nepal border crossing point is very different from the Joint Check Post at the Wagah India – Pakistan border crossing point where the security of both sides are very smart and the daily flag-lowering and border closing ceremonies are a tourist spectacle which is run with military parade precision and aggressive behaviour by both sides.
See end for the articles.
Here at the India – Nepal border crossing point, it is more of a business area, with plenty of shops on the India side which has the upper hand in export of finished products (as is the situation at the Myanmar’s border points with neighbouring countries where we import finished products and export raw materials). The traffic is heavy, both in terms of vehicles and pedestrians and I saw several people taken away by the Nepalese border guard_ maybe because they are suspected to have in their possession, undeclared goods. On the Nepal side, there are only several orange vendors. The India rupee’s value is higher than the Nepal rupee (but Nepal vendors take it as on par, not reducing the price, thereby making more profit).
Near the border on the India side at Sonali, is the Sandra Mani / Bhikshu Chandra Buddh Vihar / Myanmar monastery which is still in the process of being built. The purpose for building this monastery here is for Myanmar pilgrims to stay the night if they arrive at the border late and cannot cross into Nepal until the next morning.
There are crows with a light colour neck bands at the Sandra Mani / Bhikshu Chandra Buddh Vihar / Myanmar monastery which are similar to the crows in Sittway. I saw such crows at another place in India, whereas all other crows I saw are the usual wholly black crows.
Tun Tun, standing in front of the India Immigration office is a Myanmar born Indian who lives in Kolkata, but works as a tour helper for Myanmar pilgrims with the DarNa group. The person with his back to the camera and facing the Immigration officer / clerk is ko Kyaw Swar Win from Myanmar who also works as a tour organizer; he works 6 months on a stretch in India. Both are not present in group photos as they both are busy with cameras at the time.
Most vehicles inside Nepal are India made vehicles.
Ritual Combat at the India-Pakistan Border
An Indian border security guard (left) faces off with his Pakistani counterpart at the border near Wagah.
Narinder Nanu / AFP / Getty
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1689795,00.html#ixzz1AY1uIUrm
At the Wagah border post that separates northern India from eastern Pakistan, the distance between the throngs of Muslims that gather on the Pakistan side and the mostly Hindus and Sikhs congregated on the Indian side is but a few feet. But it feels like miles for those old enough to remember the days when they could walk from one side to the other without ever leaving India. And although the nightly border guard ceremony here may be grounded in a bloody history of partition conflict, for locals and the occasional tourist it remains a symbol of a peaceful back-and-forth between two neighbors who have fought each other in three wars. And for Pakistan, the changing of the flag ceremony represents a rare refuge of decorum amid the swirling chaos that engulfs their country.
To the uninitiated ear, the spectacle that happens each night at Wagah sounds like a crazed soccer match. The sunset that casts a golden hue on the nearby fields of jute and wheat, finds thousands of Indian spectators waiting expectantly, having traveled here via the neighboring Punjabi city of Amritsar, the site of the Golden Temple — Sikhism’s holiest place of worship. On the other side, hundreds, if not thousands, of Pakistanis do the same — traveling from the nearby city of Lahore with picnic supplies and children in tow. Young entrepreneurs hawk packs of postcards and small flags. Vendors on nearby streets satiate the thirsts of the crowd with bottled water and cold ice cream sandwiches. The guards hold guns and batons; the people hold cameras and souvenirs. The two crowds meet in a pseudo-stadium overlooking a series of gates and a network of barbed wire dividing them from one another. They’ve come to cheer for their countries, but implicit in their zeal is an acknowledgment of common ties.
A young girl with a baby blue bandana stands proud and curious, holding an Indian flag twice her height. The struggle to keep it hoisted above her shoulders becomes a struggle to show how much she loves India. She looks as if she doesn’t understand exactly what’s going on, or why everyone is so loud, but likes it all the same. “Hindustan Zindabad!” she yells in chorus with her compatriots. “Long Live India!” On the other side, the young and old do the same, except their shouts emanate from beneath a frieze of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan.
Breaking from the roaring crowd is a makeshift line of young men, ready for their chance to hold an enormous flag and run a dash through the melee all the way to the border gate. It takes about ten seconds to run the course, but with the accompanying hoots and hollers, the joy lasts for hours. In fact, the running of the flag is one of the few activities the mustachioed guards on each side allow the spectators to join in. Otherwise, everyone is quickly shuffled into a spot in the adjacent stands to wait for the ceremony to begin. Anyone who gets too close to the gate or sits on a curb not intended for sitting is quickly ushered aside with a shrieking whistle.
As relations between India and Pakistan thaw, business is anticipating a boom around this border crossing. Recently, Indian and Pakistani trucks carrying goods were allowed to cross the border for the first time in years. Also, a bus route has begun between Lahore and Amritsar, a city whose connection to India’s rail lines could make Wagah an even larger entry point for visiting Pakistanis. The improved relations means middlemen will be cut from cross-country transactions, causing some to lose their jobs, but many headaches will be averted in the import-export market. Still, whatever the state of cross-border commerce, the main attraction remains the nightly ritual of squaring off across the border.
The actual ceremony, which involves the opening and closing of the border gates and the lowering of each country’s flags, attempts to live up to the hectic frenzy of the crowd. Indian guards, in their green and beige fatigues and perfectly coiffed berets, goose-step their way to India’s gate, colored saffron, white and green after the country’s national colors. The guards are simultaneously stately, with their swaying arms moving in synchronicity, and unusually flamboyant, with their measured strides resembling a forceful power-walk. Pakistan’s guards do the same, though their gate is colored a different shade of green and adorned with two crescent moons and adjoining stars, the symbol of Islam. The two contingents meet in the middle — the actual border — and then undertake an elaborate show-off contest. Each soldier is expected to make their mannerisms as over-the-top as possible, be it the calculated clack of a large, black boot or the whirling gesture of an official salute. Imperiousness is key.
At the end of the display, the guards do something so simple, yet profound, that occasionally it’s lost on the crowd: They shake hands.
The winner of the bloodless duel is never official, but usually decided by whichever side gains more rapturous cheers from the gathered attendees. No matter the outcome, both Indian and Pakistani alike trek home with smiling faces and vows to return soon — maybe even tomorrow night.
Theater of War Every Evening at the Pakistan-India Border
Pakistani paramilitary troopers with their Indian counterparts lower down their respective national flags at the Joint Check Post (JCP) at the Wagah border crossing between Pakistan and India.
WAGAH, Pakistan, May 28, 2003 – The clunk of heavy boots, glowering looks, aggressive snorts and a final martial handshake — the goose-stepping of Pakistani and Indian soldiers creates a daily spectacle at the Wagah border post, where thousands gather each evening to watch the flag-lowering spectacle.
“They show their anger and their determination, but it always stays formal,” an officer of Pakistan’s Rangers border guards said of the ceremony performed in a perfectly coordinated daily ritual for almost 56 years. The stage for the performance is the Joint Check-Post at Wagah, 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) east of Pakistan’s most ancient city Lahore and west of the Indian city of Amritsar. A long white line, borne of the 1947 partition of Britain’s Indian empire, defines the border between the hostile neighbours and two heavy gates, about two meters (yards) apart, lie across either side.
On the Indian side, some 2,000 spectators take their seats behind the border post after being let in through a path running alongside the border for 50 meters (yards) under the curled moustaches of the Pakistani Rangers. Opposite, around 1,000 Pakistanis take their seats on either side of the Baab-e-Azadi (Gate of Freedom).
The gate was built in August 2001 by Pakistani authorities in homage to the thousands of Muslims killed during the mass migration to their new land in 1947. Cries of “Pakistan Zindabad” (Long live Pakistan) alternate with shouts of “Jai Hind” (Long live India). The Indians play war music, the Pakistanis play religious music. The Indians sing and dance. Pakistanis stay in their seats, men on one side and women on the other.
But some are animated in their own way: Mehrdin, 75, a vegetable vendor in Lahore, comes every day dressed in the national colour green, sporting a long white beard and carrying a large Pakistani flag under the noses of softly booing Indian spectators. A long guttural cry signals the end of the gaiety: Pakistani Rangers in charcoal shalwar kameez (a traditional outfit of long smock over trousers), without weapons, start the ceremony. It is repeated identically on the Indian side.
Pounding the ground with long strides, a Ranger goose-steps hurriedly towards the gate for a brusque exchange of mimicked threats with his Indian colleague. A second joins them, then a third in a bizarre ballet punctuated by glowering glares and warrior moustaches. The gates open. Two officers approach each other and after briefly coming face-to-face shake hands.
Both soldiers can then start to lower the Pakistani and Indian flags fixed high on poles planted at the foot of the gates. Silence falls. Only the clacking of boots and the snorts of the soldiers can be heard. Carefully folded, the flags are carried away by the goose-stepping soldiers. Both officers return to the white border line. A final handshake. Not a single glance exchanged. The gates are slammed shut and on both sides, a trumpet announces the end of the spectacle.
“I came because it’s good to mark our difference. It’s good for Pakistan to show it is strong,” said Tariq, a youth from Lahore who came with his friends to watch the performance for the first time. Intimidated, the group of youths only relaxed when asked whether they had any desire to cross the border. “Right now, if we could!” Tariq and his friends replied in chorus. In the meantime they wait for a warming of relations between the fractious neighbours which will give them the chance to visit Wagah for something other than the martial flag-lowering ceremony.