Travel day...Amritsar to Varanasi...Two flights with layover...Excitement at the India-Pakistan border...


The soldier prepared for the big event.
As I write here now its during our original two-hour layover in Delhi which after the first flight on Vistara Airline (owned by Singapore Airlines) was late by 40 minutes, the wait to board has been greatly reduced.

We boarded the flight in 35 minutes after check-in at the airport so my choice was to rush through today's post or try to finish this tonight after dinner. Since we didn't arrive at our hotel in Varanasi until around 7:00 pm, I tried to rush through to get this post uploaded so we could have a less hurried evening and  leisurely dinner but it didn't quite work out that way..
The bleachers were packed with enthusiastic Indians.
With our driver Prince arriving at our hotel in Amritsar at 9:30 am to take us to the airport (our final contact with him), we wanted to have breakfast in the hotel, after we'd packed everything and were ready to go.

At 9:40 the van was loaded with our bags and we were on our way to the Amritsar International Airport. Arriving two hours before our flight left plenty of time to kill.
Note the headdress o the performers/soldiers..
We met a lovely Indian couple who now live in Australia and had come to visit family in India. The lively conversation with this special couple made the time fly while we awaited our flight. Before we knew it, we were boarding the first of the two flights.

I'd preferred to spend more time preparing today's post about the exciting visit to the ceremonies at the India/Pakistan border but this schedule is the "nature of the beast," as we spend two very busy months of travel through India, staying in each new location for two or three days.
Aligned and ready to perform.
Is this pace tiring us? Surprisingly, it's not. Sightseeing for one or two days with one day of rest in between is working perfectly for us. We're rested, well-fed and enthusiastic as we continue on.

This is not to say we'd do a tour such as this again. This scenario in India is unique. Most likely such an extended private tour such as this in any other country would far exceed the cost we paid for these extra 55-days over and above the Maharajas Express seven day tour through India. 
The crowds roared, particularly from the Indian side.
Below is information regarding the extraordinary experience we had being a part of the electrified festivities. 

The Indian people are dedicated to protecting their borders and this was evidenced by their loud and enthusiastic participation during the ceremonies, dancing, chanting and reciting their national expressions of love and patriotism to their country.
The soldier lined up to perform their classic high kicks.
We couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces during the almost two hours we sat in the tiered seating in the bright sun in the VIP/foreigner's seats only about 8 rows up from the performance.

Unfortunately, my photos aren't as good as I would have liked. The sun was in my eyes and it was impossible to see the subjects of the photos. I could only point and click.
Military police from either side of the border.
We are sharing what we were able to come up with during the ceremonies. Now as I write again, close to bedtime, we've arrived at our hotel in Varanasi. The city is beyond description. We'll share details in the next few days.

We have to be in the hotel lobby at 6:00 am tomorrow to head to the dock to board a boat for the Ganges River for the sunrise and more. We had a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant. Its not quite the caliber of the hotels we've stayed in so far in India but we'll make the best of it. 
Military guards protected the perimeter.
Time to wind down for the night. We'll be back with more tomorrow. Hang tight. Thanks for traveling along with us.

Here's information on the ceremonies:

"The lowering of the flags ceremony at the Attari-Wagah border is a daily military practice that the security forces of India (Border Security Force, BSF) and Pakistan (Pakistan Rangers) have jointly followed since 1959. The drill is characterized by elaborate and rapid dance like maneuvers and raising legs as high as possible, which have been described as "colorful". It is alternatively a symbol of the two countries’ rivalry, as well as brotherhood and cooperation between the two nations. Similar parades are organised at Mahavir/Sadqi border near Fazilka and Hussainiwala/Ganda Singh Wala border near Firozpur."

Every eye in the stadium was focusing on these professionals.
We're going to give this ultra hard bed a try and see how we do. Nighty night to all!

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