Crossing over the Wagah border was one of the most awaited aspects of our visit, especially because of the momentousness of the event of walking across to a land that was hostile and -- at the same time -- an extension of us. The actual crossing is also ceremonial in many ways -- you are required to get down from your vehicle and physically walk over the actual border -- adding further gravity to the moment. What was most heartwarming was how welcomed we felt, most officials breaking codes of propriety to offer us tea and invite us home. Both occasions -- crossing over and back -- are likely to be experiences we can recount by the second for the rest of our lives.
Born out of the same dynasty, there was no surprise that the first glimpse of the Badshahi Mosque reminded us of the Jama Masjid in Delhi: the symmetry, the awe-inspiring presence, the vast courtyard, the feeling of serenity. We were pleasantly surprised to find a small museum on the first floor of the main entrance which housed relics that were several centuries old. Also in the distant skyline you can see the Minar-e-Pakistan, or the 'Eiffel Tower of Pakistan' (as our guide liked to call it), the monument that marks the separation of Pakistan as a country. We walked around the compound, admiring the detailed calligraphy and the painstakingly assembled white marble on red sandstone -- all the while gasping to each other about its grandeur. And just as we thought it was impossible for the mosque to be any more beautiful, the sun set and it was lit up -- turning it into something that looked like it would be right out of a dream (or a grand Yash Chopra movie!). Breathtaking would be an understatement.