Hall Of Fame Leh

By Sanjeev Nayyar Sanjeev@esamskriti.com | 2016

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Front view Hall of Fame in Leh. It tells you about culture of Ladakh, key battles fought in 1948,1962,1965,1971 and 1999 with reference to the region, role of BRO in making roads, how Ladakh Scouts have done the nation proud, about Siachen Glacier and has a memorial /Shaurya Sthal where the martyrs names are inscribed on stone. U see entrance. Centre is image of Buddha.

View of the Memorial i.e. part of the complex. Met many tourists in the Hall of Fame. A lot of them were seen reading the boards. Many wanted to have pics clicked with Jawans. Feelings of patriotism came alive in the Hall of Fame. A tourist said how her view of the army changed after visiting the Hall of Fame.

Part of the Hall of Fame complex is the Shaurya Sthal which pays tribute to Jawans who made the supreme sacrifice for the nation. Martyrs names are inscribed as you see in pic. It is a humble Tribute to our Heroes, whose names we might never have heard.

Entrance to Hall of Fame. Left is a map which gives names of places to see and distance from Leh. In this terrain assume it takes 1 hour for 30 kms. Excerpts from board top of pic ''The Hall of Fame is a tribute to the Indian Army who guard the barren frontiers of Ladakh as much as it is a Expression of Recognition of the indomitable spirit, rich culture and zest for life of the men and women of Ladakh''.

As you walk pass the door. Left of pic is sign of Fire & Fury Corps that was raised on 1/9/1999 post Kargil War. "It is the only corps sized force to be deployed only in high altitude and is the only formation in the country to share borders with Pakistan and China. It consists of 2 crossed vajras flaming fire at their terminal ends and an upward facing sword in the centre on a red & white background. Vajra is a Sanskrit word meaning thunderbolt & is an imp word in Hindu/Buddhist scriptures. Predominance of red and white color depicts blood and valour with snow symbolising ferocious battles fought and won on high mountain tops, during the Kargil war".

There are 2 halls. Overview of first one whose focus is Siachen and Kargil. We first present equipment used by jawans and then details of individual battles at Siachen.

Siachen Soldier. They eat of air dropped tin cans and brave chilly winds. It is not possible for us to visualize the conditions in which they live - all to defend India''s borders. For months you see the same faces every day, none to speak to, unpredictable weather and yes there is a enemy to watch out for too. Left of pic knots and hitches.

Centre is Snow Scooter. Right are skies. At Siachen Glacier experience low oxygen, extreme cold and high level of ultra violet radiations not to forget avalanches. Thus soldiers move in groups bound by ropes and love for the nation.

U see Specialist Mountaineering Equipment. Soldiers learn how to use the equipment. They are provided with avalanche rescue dogs and victim detectors, ice drilling machines. Jawans are provided with special winter clothing to withstand very low temperatures, damaging UV rays and high velocity winds. I spent a day at the Base Camp in the summers i.e. August and found it difficult to cope. Imagine what it must be in December and that too on Siachen Glacier.

Individual boards like these adorn the walls. Frozen Frontiers excerpts. ''Siachen Glacier is 76 kms long, at an altitude of 5400 metres, on the west is Saltoro Ridge line and east is Eastern Karakoram Range. Altitudes ranges from 18 to 24,000 feet. Winter temperatures can dip to -50 degrees''.

Map on left gives you an idea of where Siachen Glacier lies. To its left is Shaksam Valley, part of J&K in 1947, gifted by Pakistan to China in 1963 area 5180 sq kms. In Yellow is Aksai Chin 37,555 sq kms illegally occupied by China. In green are Northern Areas. It is this area which shares a border with Afghanistan. If in 1947-48 Nehru had allowed the Indian Army to capture Northern Areas India would have shared a border with Afghanistan. Importantly China would not have a border with Pakistan.

Details of Operation Meghdoot 1984. Excerpts, operation to occupy Siachen started on 13/4/1984. This military operation was unique as the first assault launched on the world''s highest battlefield. It was lead by Lt Gen Prem Nath Hoon and operations were launched by Captain Kulkarni.

Details of Operation Rajiv 1987. Pakistan had occupied a post which gave them a view of Siachen Glacier and entire Saltoro Range. They had to be dislodged. Post was captured on 26 June 1987.

Details of Operation Vajrashakti 1987. Between 23 and 24 September three continuous waves of enemy attacks were repulsed and post defended.

Details of Operation IBEX 1989. Pakistan wanted to occupy Point 6400 at 20,143 feet before Secretary level talks. Indian Army occupied Point 6400 before Pakistan could do so.

Details of Operation Thunderbolt June 1999. This formed part of the Kargil conflict. Enemy post was renamed as Navdeep Top after Major Navdeep Singh Cheema. Siachen Glacier pics end.

Brief history of Ladakh from a people perspective. The first inhabitants of Ladakh were perhaps Tibetan nomadic herdsmen. The Mons, Aryans and Dards moved in later. In 842 A.D there was large scale migration from Tibet. Islam entered the region in the 15th century. Dogras annexed the region in 1834. Finally it became part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Chronology of Events from 1st Century A.D onwards. Key events - 2nd century Buddhism established in Ladakh. 1640-90 Mughals defeated Ladakhi Kings. Muslim invasions started 13-16th century. Early 19th century Sikh rule was established in Kashmir & Punjab. 1846 Ladakh came under Dogra rule and became part of the princely state of J&K.

Around 842 a.d is when Ladakh underwent Tibetization. Around the 13th century, post Muslim invasions, India ceased to having to offer anything from a Buddhist point of view. So Ladakh began to seek advice in religious matters from Tibet.

These are RCL (Recoil Less Gun) guns. Use to be authorised to Infantry Battalions against tanks. They have been phased out and replaced by missiles. Caption courtesy a Fauji pal.

Tribute to Ladakh Scouts. Left is Sub Sonam Stobdan. Right is Col Chewang Rinchen. "Ladakh Scouts is an Infantry regiment of the Indian Army nicknamed the Snow Warriors or Snow Tigers. Their main role is to guard India''s borders in the high altitude areas of Ladakh region, as well J&K in general. " They are recruited from the Ladakh region and one of Indian Army''s most decorated units. Sonam is a common name in Ladakh.

In 1948, 1962 and 1971 wars the Ladakh Scouts fought valiantly. They were amongst the first troops to be inducted in Siachen Glacier, as part of Operation Meghdoot in 1984.

Project Himank was launched on 4/12/1985 for road communication of Ladakh Region which till 1960 was connected with rest of India by mule tracks. They make and maintain roads. Terrain is very tough and weather hostile. Starting altitude is above 10,000 feet. There are 9 passes in the region, the highest being at 19,394 feet.

Pic Defence Institute of High Altitude Research in Leh. Captions courtesy Hall of Fame. Errors if any are to my account. Must appreciate all those who were involved in visualising and the making of the Hall of Fame Leh. Super work. Excellent presentation.

Overview of second section. This has information on the 1948,1962, 1971 wars along with weapons on display + names of brave warriors who are given Awards.

Idea of how information presented. Info on Pak offensive in Ladakh Sector 1948. ''After setbacks in Poonch & Srinagar Pakistan shifted attention to Ladakh. Having Gilgit under its control Pak planned to capture Skardu & the 4 nodes of Kargil, Drass, Gund and Pandras. After isolating Leh from the West, the enemy launched a 2 pronged attack from the West and North (along Shyok river) to ensure early fall of Leh. Nubra Guards under Chemang Rinchen made the enemy flee". Left lower most pic ''Mountain Guns supporting Gorkha Rifles attack at Drass. Top left pic is Lt Gen Cariappa and others after the capture of Zoji La.

Operation Khaltsi Bridge. Enemy reached bridge on 20/5/1948 heading towards Leh. State forces under Major Khushal Chand were dislodged. However, at great personal risk he destroyed the bridge before the enemy could cross over. Then enemy''s repair of bridge was delayed . During this period bridge was held by Major Chand and one sepoy for 24 hours. Reinforcements arrived. By organising raids at night and snipping during day, enemy was delayed for 6 days and Leh saved.

This is called Operation Sparrow after Lt Col Rajendra Singh whose pet name was sparrow. Plan was to recapture Zoji La Pass. This pass is between Sonmarg (Valley) and Dras (Ladakh). When I drove through the Pass in 1988 found terrain very very tough.

Plan was to clear Kargil and Dras. Board has the details. By 24 November 1948, India has recaptured Kargil with the Pakis eventually withdrew northwards towards Skardu.

Top Centre General Cariappa & General Shrinagesh at Zoji La Pass 1948. Below that Jawans taking position at Chushul in 1962. Pic to its right - Nehru being received at Chushul Air Strip in 1952 by Brig Baj Singh. Right below - A sikh gunner hauls a 25 pounder field howitzer at a battlefront into position in Ladakh 1962. Right lower pic - Jawans patrolling Pangong Lake shore in 1962. Having been to Chishul in 2016 can say very windy and chilly in August.

At a height of 16k feet Rezang La provides a deep view of Chinese territory. First attack on 18/11/1962 was stalled by the brave AHIRS of 13 Kumaon Regiment. Chinese changed tack and started shelling the post. Major Shaitan Singh reorganised the forces and took the enemy head on. 113 soldiers lost their lives but killed about 1300 Chinese soldiers.

Laying a wreath at the Rezang La War Memorial. Ishwar ki kripa see got a chance to do so. Pranams to the brave soldiers of Bharat who made the Ultimate Sacrifice for their Motherland.

Battle of Sirijap is about Major Dhan Singh Thapa and his troops who gave stiff resistance to the troops but could not overcome their overwhelming power and numerical superiority.

This was a battle where India was outnumbered. However, we can take pride in the devotion to duty, determination and exemplary courage shown in defending their posts against a vastly superior enemy force.

Demchok, the southernmost sector of Ladakh has 5 passes on the Kailash Range which are the gateway between India and Tibet. The Indus river enters India in this area. The actions of Naik Subedar Tundup stand out as he chose to stay back and give covering fire for his troops to withdraw, thus making the supreme sacrifice.

Section is Battles in Kargil sector. Covers 1965,1971 and 1999 wars.

Point 13620 overlooks the Srinagar Leh Highway. It was captured thrice by India. 4 Rajputs captured on 17/5/1965. Following assurances by UN Observer it was handed over to Pakistan in June 1965. In accordance with Tashkent Agreement it was handed over to Pakistan in July 1966 after it was captured by 17 Punjab on 15/8/1965. It was recaptured by India on 9/12/1971.

This is about the recapture of Point 13620 on 17/5/1965 referred to in earlier caption.

Kala Pahar overlooks National Highway 1, the road from Kargil to Srinagar. Having been there recently realized the sort of control the Pakistanis had. Thanks to brave soldiers of the Indian Army it is in our possession now.

Some more info on capture of Black Rocks and Point 13620.

Point 13620 was recaptured on 15th August 1965.

This is a 75/24 Pack Howitzer. It was the first indigenously developed gun of Indian Artillery. The gun played a crucial role in the 1965 and 1971 wars. It was eventually phased out in the 1990''s.

Now come to the Indo-Pak War of 1971. The enemy had taken positions on both sides of the Shingo river thus effectively interfering with movement of own troops and logistic columns. Despite stiff resistance they captured 12 enemy picquets including the formidable Hathimatha feature between 5-17th December 1971.

Post no 12 was captured by 2/11 Gorkha Rifles on 7/12/1971. It is now known as Vetri Post in memory of the company commander.

Sherquila was eventually captured on 15/12/1971 after a fierce battle.

Brachil Pass fell into Indian hands on 17/12/1971.

The Ladakh Scouts did the country proud in 1971. Turtuk became part of India in 1971. To see pics of beautiful Turtuk Click here

Read about some more great work by Ladakh Scouts.

We now come to section on 1999 Kargil War. U see a protype of the Bofors gun at Kargil War Memorial in Dras. "Bofors gun were crucial to pulverizing enemy defences on mountain tops during Kargil Conflict, enabling assaulting these height devoid of cover. These guns played sterling role in the conflict."

All about the Battle of Tololing. It is at a height of 16,000 feet and overlooks the Srinagar Leh highway. The Pakistanis were on top of this feature which allowed them to interfere with the movement of vehicular traffic with observed artillery fire. This was the first major victory of the Indian Army.

This is ranked as one of the toughest operations of the Indian Army at par with the capture of Bana Top, in the Northern glacier in 1987.

Jubar Ridge rising app 19000 feet connects Kargil and Batalik sectors. The enemy had occupied the entire Jubar complex which was winter vacated. After a fierce battle it was recaptured on 7 July.

All about the Battle of Tiger Hill. Next pic is of Tiger Hill - see that and u know what a task it was to recapture it. It was the fulcrum on which the enemy''s defences in Dras sub-sector were based, as they could direct artillery fire on NH1D, our vital lifeline. On 8/7/1999 the Indian Flag was hoisted on Tiger Hill.

We drove about 45 minutes from Dras town to get a clear view of Tiger Hill that you see. Can only admire every soldier who was responsible for its recapture. Moral of the story - never let your guard down.

The Khalubar Ridge was the hub of Pakistani defences in the Batalik sector. It was captured on 6th July.

Forward slopes of Point 4875 overlook a 30 kms stretch of the Srinagar Leh highway. ''Yeh Dil Maange More'' is the famous bye-line of Captain Vikram Batra who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra (posthumous).

All about the Battle of Chorbat La.

24 June 1999 was the first time that laser guided bombs were used in operation by 7 Squadron. Their mission was the now famous Tiger Hill Strike. Read 17 ways to deal with an aggressive China Click here

Details of passes in Ladakh. Crossing every pass is an experience by itself. Read What stops me from loving Pakistan Click here

The Hall of Flame has niches where names and pictures of brave soldiers who received various awards are stated. This is an example. Pranams to the brave soldiers of India. To see pics of Jaswantgarh War Memorial in Arunachal Pradesh Click here

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