Pakistan & India Border Flag Ceremony 

Pakistan & India Border Flag Ceremony

On 16th March 2019, Saturday … when tensions between Indian & Pakistan escalated, luckily I had the chance to attend the Wagha flag ceremony.
I’ve been witnessing this ceremony several times, though this one was the best ceremony in my lifetime.

Videography : Mariko Sawada,  Yousaf Akhtar

Visit of Wagha : March 2019 with Saiyah team

Category : # Punjab > ** Video clip of Punjab > - Wagha border
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Enthusiastic Pakistanis at Wagha Border

Enthusiastic Pakistanis at Wagha Border

Enjoying flag ceremony is not only the ceremony itself but the “Pre-ceremony” period.
To witness the Pakistani people who love their country, this is the best place and it is fun too!
Let’s say aloud everyone, (Long-live) Jeevay Jeevay Pakistan!

Videography : Mariko Sawada, Yousaf Akhtar

Visit of wagha : March 2019 with Saiyah team

Category : # Punjab > ** Video clip of Punjab > - Wagha border
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Heritage of LAHORE 

Heritage of LAHORE

On 19th Feb 2019, SUPER MOON DAY … I was in Lahore and was expecting to observe the super moon, but unluckily it was cloudy.
On the other hand, I successfully got permission to fly a drone over the heritage area.

Videography : Mariko SAWADA

Visit of Lahore : Feb 2019 with Saiyah team

Thanks to Ms. Aisha Khan, Deputy Director of Culture Walled City, Lahore

Category : # Punjab > ** Video clip of Punjab > - Lahore
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Greater Flamingo – Soon valley

There are several lakes in Soon Valley located 150 km southeast of Islamabad, some of the famous lakes in this region serving as a habitat for birds are Kallar Kahar Lake, Khabeki Lake, and Uchhali Lake. Comparatively, Uchhali Lake is the best spot for migratory birds to spend winter season. It attracts migratory flamingos due to its salty blackish shallow water.

There were almost no ducks in late March when I visited, but there were more than 200 flamingos.
According to the locals, 20 to 40 birds have been observed so far, but such a large flock is the first time.
In 2016 no flamingos came to this lake, but since mid of 2018, more than 200 birds came and were still in Uchhali Lake.

Greater flamingos flying over the village.
It is said that a Greater Flamingo has an irregular migratory pattern and the local people were also wondering that it has been staying at Uchhali Lake for about 11 months already.

I’m worried that if their habitat is lost due development, there might be nowhere for these flamingos to go…

Greater flamingos are the largest flamingos in the flamingo family at 120cm to 140 cm.
“The largest flamingo” colors Pakistan’s sky. It was an unexpected scene!

Photo: MARIKO  Text: MARIKO & SAROSH
Observation: end of March 2019, Uchhali Lake, Soon Valley, Punjab
Reference: Birds of Pakistan, Birds of the Indian Subcontinents (Helm Field Guides)

Category : # Punjab > ** Birds of Pakistan > - Greater Flamingo > - Soon Valley
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Kartarpur – Sikh’s Holy Land, Guru Nanak Mausoleum

Did you know? In Pakistan, there is a mausoleum of Guru Nanak, who was the first Guru and the founder of Sikhism.
Obviously, in Guru-Nanak’s time, there was no such a border and the individuals lived unified.
Following 20 years of traveling around the world, Guru Nanak created the first Sikh community in the current Kartarpur region, where people irrespective of their religion or race, lived together. Guru Nanak lived here in harmony with his family and passed away on September 22, 1539.

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, the tomb of Guru Nanak stands where he passed away.

The present building was built in 1925, and since 1947 when India and Pakistan separated, Pakistan’s government has been taking care of it.

The holy place where the divine scriptures of Sikhism are stored.

A Pakistani chef serving a meal at Gurdwara Kartarpura Sahib. By the way, there is only a single Sikh family living in Kartarpur territory.

Lamentably, due to the Radcliffe line drawn by the British during the partition of India in 1947, this Sikh holy place became part of Pakistan territory, which turned a headache for the Sikhs living in India.
It is 4 km from the Indian border across the Ravi river.
They could only worship mausoleum with binoculars from Dera Baba Nanak on the Indian side.

Since 1999, there has been a proposition to make a “Pilgrimage route without visa” for Sikhs, so in November 2018, progress has been made by the talks between Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and an Indian high official, and both the nations are pushing towards acknowledgment.
The coming November 2019 is the 550th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak. Before that, it was decided to build the Kartarpur pilgrimage corridor, where Sikhs who were living in India can pilgrimage without a visa.

I visited this place in the middle of March 2019, when the diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan were at the pinnacle.
The project seems to be steadily advancing forward. Regardless of such political circumstances, the territory around the Guru Nanak Mausoleum has been transformed into a vast construction site for the completion of the “Pilgrimage Corridor”.

The realization of the “pilgrimage corridor” will be what numerous people pray for.

Photo: MARIKO   Text: MARIKO & SAROSH

Visit: March 2019, Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur, Kartarpur, Punjab, Pakistan

 

Category : # Punjab > - Kartarpur
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At last! Arrived at the Wagha, crossing the India-Pakistan border

Finally, I arrived at the Wagha. When I passed through the border gate, I saw the stadium of the flag ceremony, with a picturesque portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah – founding father of Pakistan.
The time difference between India and Pakistan is 30 minutes.
Therefore, I set the clock accordingly at the border and strolled forward with my suitcase.

Presently, glancing back at the Indian side from Pakistan.
People are crossing the border one after another. It was the time when the relationship between India and Pakistan was deteriorating. Nevertheless, I saw about 50 people intersecting the border in a very short time span.

A portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founding father of Pakistan. Beneath it in Urdu, “Bab-e-Azadi”, is written which literally means, “The door to Independence”.

By the way, this border is usually walked over, but “India-Pakistan friendship bus”, at that time was running between Delhi and Lahore, which crosses the border without changing the vehicle.
I often get queries regarding the opening time of the border in the evening. Recently, it looks like it is open in the evening, except for the flag ceremony time. Still, it is wise to finish the border crossing by 3 o’clock in winter and 4 o’clock amid summer time.

Go straight out from the stadium of Flag Ceremony and direct towards the immigration office on your right side.
There are also people who own up “money exchange” in this area.
At the immigration office, I had to fill in an A4 sized entry card with a lot of spaces to be filled, unlike the airport’s entry card (As of March 2019).
Pass the luggage through the X-ray machine and exit out of the customs. When I walked towards the Lahore side, I met the staff of SAIYAH who were there to receive me.
Now only an hour drive from here to Lahore, which is famous for its unique heritage and beguiling Mughal architecture.

Photo: MARIKO  Text: MARIKO & SAROSH
Visit: Mar 2019, Wagha Border, Punjab, Pakistan

Category : # Punjab > - Wagha border
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Pakistan-India border crossing – Attari (India) to Wagha (Pakistan).

I crossed the border in mid of March 2019, when the tensions between India and Pakistan escalated.
Certainly, the faces of the military personnel on both sides were harsher than before. Though, I felt really peaceful and calm.
Firstly, I took a domestic flight to Amritsar at exactly 8:50 am and arrived after an hour. Thereafter, from the airport to Atari border it took 30 minutes to reach by car.

As Atari approaches, you can see the overly sized Indian and Pakistani flag raising poles in front. At this time, only the Pakistani flag was raised.

Signs – the border mood rising gradually!
Once you get to the border’s facilities. Next step is to complete the entry at the entrance point and go to the immigration and customs building. Photography is prohibited from this point. Then you finish the baggage security check and go towards the Immigration. Here, you only need to submit a passport. Then pass your luggage through the X-Ray machine and fill a custom form. The customs took quite a long time than I expected….

After the departure and custom’s procedures ended, I took a sigh of relief and on a bus started to head towards the Flag ceremony stadium on the border.

Once you arrive at the Flag Ceremony stadium, you can take pictures starting from here. By the way, please be prepared, as it becomes quite expensive when using a porter to carry the luggage.

Lastly, you need to check your passport at the gate and start to walk towards Pakistan.

Pakistan is in front of me! Just a few steps away and I will be standing on the surface of Pakistan.

At the Pakistani border, there are tourists taking pictures. On both the sides of the border, you can witness the true patriotism of the people and the love they share towards their country.

In the end, the border guards generously said, “Welcome to Pakistan! please show me your passport.” It was 12:00 India time, 11:30 Pakistan time.

Photo : MARIKO   Tex: MARIKO & SAROSH
Visit: March 2019, India-Pakistan border crossing, Attari to Wagha

Category : # Punjab > - Wagha border
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