Travel from Lahore to Amritsar: Crossing the Pak-India Border
In order to cross the border from into India from Pakistan, you need to have valid visas for both countries. If you are planning to return to Pakistan, make sure that you have another entry left on your visa before you leave the country, unless you are planning to apply for a new Pakistan visa in New Delhi.
There are often buses that go straight from Lahore to New Delhi, and sometimes there is a train service operating across the border, but these services are vulnerable to the state of government relations between the neighboring countries. Not only that, services that join the two countries directly are seen as symbols of friendship and cooperation, and these services are accompanied by heavy police escorts due to the fact that not everyone thinks friendship and cooperation are the best policies to pursue. It’s safer and faster to stick with local transportation on each side of the border rather than to use a special service that operates between the two countries.
Lahore to Wagha Border
Depending where you are in Lahore and what level of comfort you like to travel in, you can take a local bus, a rickshaw or a taxi to the border. If the weather is pleasant and you don’t have a lot of luggage, you can save money by taking the bus or an auto rickshaw. For the most comfort, you can take a taxi. At the time of writing, taking a taxi from the Defence Housing Authority in Lahore to Wagha cost about 700 Pakistani rupees ($8.50). Make sure you negotiate the price before you set off for the border. The border is not open 24-hours a day. It is usually open from about 10:00 am to 4:00pm, and it can take from one hour to three hours to cross the border, depending how busy it is and if all of your paperwork is in order or not.
Wagha Border Crossing
Once at the border, you enter the Customs/Immigration building on the left side of the road. Here your luggage and passport will be checked. You may be interviewed as to how long you have been in Pakistan and what you were doing there.
After you clear customs, proceed out the door and start walking towards the gate. You will have to stop a few times to fill in some information on paper registers. When you go to the gate, you will have to show your passport to both Pakistani and Indian border guards. The atmosphere is usually very friendly, and the jovial guards will salute you and tell you how to say hello, thank you and you’re welcome in Urdu (Pakistan) and Hindi (India).
Once on the Indian side you continue walking until you reach the Customs/Immigration building on the left side of the road. The building is older and a bit more confusing than on the Pakistani side. There are separate lines for locals and foreigners, so make sure you stand in the lines for foreigners. It can be quite busy unless you go early in the morning. The workers are not always very helpful, and you may need to push and shove your way to a window to get the forms you need.
Once all of your forms are signed and you have been stamped into India, continue walking along the road. The road is long, hot and dry, so make sure you pack plenty of water to keep from becoming dehydrated. The Indian side of the border is much longer than the Pakistani side, so you need to be prepared for a fair amount of walking. There are coolies available if you need assistance with your luggage.
Attari to Amritsar
As soon as you leave the gate, you arrive in the border town of Attari, India. You are likely to be accosted by taxi and rickshaw drivers. The main taxi stand is in front of the gate on the right side. It’s best to walk straight to the taxi stand, because the drivers operate with set rates. They should be able to show you a government list of tariffs. In 2009, the tariff to Amritsar station was 500 Indian rupees ($10). The tariff to any hotel in Amritsar was 550 rupees ($11.50).
If you want to save some money you can share the taxi with other travelers or take an auto-rickshaw instead.
Once in Amritsar, many travelers proceed straight to the train station. If you some extra time, make sure to see the Golden Temple before you head onward to the other delights of India!