Last updated on February 8th, 2024 at 08:24 pm
Poorna being an Army veteran will take you through a visual journey of Kargil War Memorial – a poignant one – on the heroic deeds of heroes who laid down their lives in the Kargil War. It is very well captured in the Kargil War memorial in Drass.
In 1999, India and Pakistan fought on the rocky inhospitable terrain at heights above 10000 feet. Known as Kargil War, the heroes who laid down their lives in the conflict are remembered on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas which is observed on 26 July every year.
We were there at Kargil War Memorial or Drass war memorial in Aug 2015 and again in July 2016.
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 has people from Baltistan settled over here. These families crossed over a 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 us of the futility of war as a solution.
Please click on the pictures to see them in larger sizes.
The setting is perfect. Located at the foothills of Tololing Hill across Tiger Hill range, the memorial is spread out wide on 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 flies high against the backdrop of snow-clad mountains, with a large plaque with an inscription of names of soldiers who laid down their lives to save the honour of the flag!
The Walkway has been installed with signposts 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 of another memorial built for brave soldiers of the Indian Army in Second World War in Kohima war cemetery.
A nice gallery dedicated to Captain Manoj Pandey who was awarded the 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 stop for each battle which lists out all details with nice models. It demonstrates how the troops would have fought gloriously in this terrain. A nice documentary on the war is shown at regular intervals. It is worth spending a 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 the Kargil War. The rugged terrain and the heights make these mountains one of the toughest battlefields in the world.
These letters from the battle zone from Lt Praveen Tomar make a poignant reading. The tough times on the battlefield when your men are getting killed and you have to lead them are 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 which were captured during the war.
The tombstones with Epitaphs for the fallen heroes. It reminds me 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 the 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 it 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 wants 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 a minimum of 90 minutes for visiting the memorial including the documentary film.
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