Each day since 1959, the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers have had an official lowering of the flag ceremony (Beating Retreat) at the Wagah international border between the two countries. The ceremony is a mock-aggressive, well-choreographed (and infinitely negotiated) competition between the two different groups. Participating soldiers are chosen for their height, physique, and performance abilities. The ceremony includes colorful uniforms, goose-stepping marching maneuvers, loud commands, lowering of each country’s flag at exactly the same rate, a formal handshake, and, finally, slamming the gates in the face of one another. This is all performed in front of large enthusiastic crowds on each side of the border and is accompanied by music. We took the following pictures from the Indian side when we were there on October 24, 2014. We were very sad to learn that 60 people were killed and 110 injured by a suicide bomber one week later.
Beating Retreat Ceremony at the Wagah International Border
Specs are: Olympus TG-3 with telephoto adapter, ISO 200, f/4.9, 1/60 sec, 18mm
Indian Border Security Force at Wagah Beating Retreat Ceremony
Specs are: Olympus TG-3 with telephoto adapter, ISO 200, f/4.2, 1/30 sec, 13.5mm
This photo shows a triumphant contestant in the Longest Mustache Contest at the 2014 Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan, India. The total length of the mustache (left side plus right side) is between 4 and 5 feet. However, he was not the winner, who is pictured below with a more subdued demeanor.
According to CNN, J. C. Chounan was the winner of the longest mustache contest with a combined length of 11 feet. This mustache took 18 years to grow. The photo below shows the winner sitting in the stands before the contest, with each side of his mustache curled into a bun on the side of his face.
A personal triumph a day earlier was the arduous climb to Savitri Temple above Pushkar. Savitri is the first wife of Brahma. The climb to Savitri Temple took one hour, with many stops to rest. The incline is at least 45 degrees near the top. The climb begins and ends with concrete steps, but in between the path is made of large rocks set roughly as steps. Quite a few people were climbing, men and women, and many of those were elderly and barefoot. Many were chanting as they climbed, repeating the same phrase with every other step; perhaps it encouraged them. After spending a few minutes at the top, visiting the temple and enjoying the breeze, the walk down took one half hour.
The photo shows the view from Savitri Temple. The beginning of the climb can be seen as the smooth path beginning near the square building with a brown roof. Pushkar Lake surrounded by 52 bathing ghats (steps) is prominent in the upper right. The fairground, site of the mustache contest, is the series of blue roofs upper left.
View of Savitri Temple from the Pushkar Fairgrounds
Climbing to Savitri Temple in Pushkar
These photos show the view of Savitri Temple at the peak of the hill as seen from the Pushkar Fairgrounds (photo on the left) and the view of the climb to the temple (photo on the right).
This last picture shows a contrast that happened accidentally. The photo was taken during the evening flag lowering ceremony at Wagah on the international border between India and Pakistan. Shown is an Indian soldier (member of the Border Security Forces (BSF)) in his colorful dress uniform. The picture was taken to capture the moment, even though the telephoto lens caused the vignetting in the photograph.