Apshinge. We are sure you have not heard of this village in Maharashtra. Neither did we till a friend of us told about it. He too was not sure about the place-name but said “there is a village in Maharashtra where every house has or had a family member in the Armed forces”. That sounded interesting! We googled for the place and there we found the name of Apshinge Military Village, near Satara.
We also stumbled upon a small news story on the village. It made an interesting reading. A small tiny village of 700 houses has sent at least one of their family to serve in the armed forces. In some households there are more than one! This has ben a tradition of “Nikhumb Rajputs” or “Nikams” in this village for generations starting with Maratha King Shivaji. When we checked about its location, we found that it was just off the highway between Satara and Pune. We decided to come to this place on one of the long weekends.
We planned to go the village during the Ganesh Chaturthi weekend. Clubbing this with a visit to the tallest Ganesha idol in the world near Kolhapur. Leaving on Friday evening, we stopped overnight at Hubli. Next day morning, we started for Apshinge. After crossing Karad on the national highway, we turned right and after few Kilometres we were in the village.
Let us take you through a tour of Apshinge, a village where every family has a warrior at home!
Crossing into the smaller road we drive flanked by green fields. Good monsoon rains this year has come as a relief to farmers.
The main roundabout at the entrance to the village. This is busiest part of the village which also has the bus stand. The entrance arch says it all – “Welcome to Apshinge Military Village”. The only “Military village” in the country!
We enter the village. A narrow road with open drains leads us to village proper. We ask for Subedar Major Dadasaheb Jadhav’s house who is the first person to meet today. Local boys, guide us. We park our car in an open space and walk across to his house.
Initial introductions done, we enjoy the graceful hospitality of his family. A man in seventies – looks very fit – he retired from Bombay Sappers after 35 years of service in the same year Poorna also came out of Army after his stint as Short Service Commissioned Officer. He explains how the tradition of Nikams joining armed forces continue even today. In fact, two of his sons serve in the Army at present. A picture with his family.
After spending some time in his house, Subedar Major Jadhav takes us on a tour of the village. The first stop obviously is the “Vijay Sthamb” or “War memorial” built to honour the villagers who laid down their lives fighting for the nation. A small but poignant memorial, it has names of the villagers who fought and died in all wars starting from the “Great War” (World War 1) in 1915.
Bang opposite the War memorial is the nice temple dedicated to Mahadev. Few boys were hanging around the place. The temple is the best place in the whole village.
We ask Jadhav sab to take us to Hindu Rao Ram Rao Patil Nikam. We walk across to his house which is hundred meters away. A sprightly man welcomes us. Ram Rao Patil’s story is interesting. A third generation soldier from the Regiment of Artillery, he went missing in Indo – China war of 1962 and was taken in as a Prisoner of War. For two years he was in a camp in China and was released when prisoners on both sides were exchanged.
We had spent almost two hours in the village. A group of elders were playing cards in a small hall which is used for local gatherings. We speak to them and few of them said about their wards serving in the army.
It is time to leave. We bid good bye to Subedar Major Jadhav and gets a standing invitation from his family to drop in any time we pass by. We reciprocate it and say bye to them. As we get on to the highway we stop to clock the picture of the arch. Few boys after seeing the “Indian Army” board and emblem on the car come towards us curiously. They speak about their father or uncles in the army. A youngster is proud that he has been selected to join the army and would be going for training in one month.
Tradition continues in Apshinge, the village where warriors bloom in every home.
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