Kargil War heroes were remembered last fortnight on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas which is observed on 26 July every year.
We were there in Kargil War memorial or Drass war memorial in Aug 2015 and again in July last year.
It is 6 AM when get into the Scorpio at Sonmarg in Aug 2015. We are on the way to Leh for our Markha Valley trek. It is a chilly morning. Typical of this part of Kashmir.
Mustafa, our driver is up and ready to go. The drive through Sonmarg valley is spectacular with its magnificent mountainscapes. We reach Drass after crossing over the tough roads of Zoji La.
It is breakfast time at Drass – one of the coldest places on earth. The local delicacy is “Bun Omelette”. We relish the yummy dish and wash it down with an excellent chai. Drass is an interesting place which have people from Baltistan settled over here. These families have crossed over quarter century ago.
Another ten kilometres of drive on a fantastic road along Drass river brings us to the Kargil War Memorial. Beautifully designed and well maintained, the war memorial is an apt tribute to brave-hearts who laid down their lives fighting for the country.
Visiting a war memorial is always a moving moment for us. It is very disarming too. It is not a touristy event. It is a place to remember those who sacrificed their lives so that we live on. A son. A husband. A father. You find everyone here. War spares no one. It is a place which reminds of the futility of war as a solution.
Please click on the pictures to see them in larger size.
The setting is perfect. Located at the foothills of Tololing hill across Tiger Hill range, the memorial is spread out wide on a flat land. The main entrance welcomes visitors who have to enter their names at the reception.
Please follow these instructions and maintain the decorum of the place.
The walkway aptly named “Vijay Path” leads to the “War Memorial”. Designed in Dholpur red stone, it is the setting which makes this place very touching. The Indian flag flying high against the backdrop of snow-clad mountains, with a large plaque with inscription of names of soldiers who laid down their lives to save the honour of the flag!
The Walk way has been installed with sign posts providing details of the various battles fought in the region. One can read the valour and sacrifice of our troops in these snapshots.
The war memorial has a large brass plaque with the names of all the soldiers who laid down their lives. This is a poignant place reminding us another memorial built for brave soldiers of Indian Army in Second World war in Kohima war cemetery.
A nice gallery dedicated to Captain Manoj Pandey who was awarded country’s highest gallantry award – Param Vir Chakra – tells you the story of the man who fought and led his troops to glory.
A larger museum tells the complete story of the Kargil war. You have stops for each battle which lists out all details with nice models. It demonstrates how the troops would have fought gloriously in these terrain. A nice documentary on the war is shown at regular intervals. It is worth spending few minutes to watch the heroics of the men in uniform.
The Roll of honour of all the bravery award winners from the Kargil war
The sand model shows the area of operation of Kargil War. The rugged terrain, the heights makes these mountains one of the toughest battlefields in the world.
These letters from battle zone from Lt Praveen Tomar makes a poignant reading. The tough times in the battle field when your men are getting killed and you have to lead them is inexplicable. It comes out so naturally when this boy of barely 23 years writes about his own fears and experiences of his baptism! Zoom the second picture and read it.
The Pakistani weapons captured during the war.
The tomb stones with Epitaphs for the fallen heroes. It reminds of the War Cemetery in Kohima in Nagaland.
We leave with a heavy heart.
A lovely memorial for the war heroes. Brave men who died fighting for the country.
We thank the Gurkha jawan guarding gate and step into our car. Not before these words echo in our ears.
When you go home, tell them of us and say
For their tomorrow, we gave our today.
Poorna had seen these words engraved in the Kohima War cemetery. It holds true for all war memorials.
The Kargil War memorial is dot on the highway and you will not miss if you are driving from Srinagar to Leh.
- It is open from 10 AM to 12PM and 2PM to 5 PM. Closed on Sundays.
- As we said, this is not a “sightseeing place”. Maintain decorum of the place. Follow the instructions.
- There is a small souvenir shop worth checking out.
- Drass has some basic accommodation if one want to stay here. Drass is an interesting town and there are many places to explore around it. One can also drive on and stay in Kargil to explore the region
- Keep minimum of 90 minutes for visiting the memorial including the documentary film.
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