Independence Day: 7 war memorials to visit across India

From a war memorial in Chennai that pays homage to the World War I martyrs to the biggest memorial in Delhi, these war memorials in India will fill you with pride and patriotism
National War Memorial New Delhi.nbsp
National War Memorial, New Delhi. Lieutenant General Satish Dua

This Independence day is special because we celebrate the 75th year of independence with ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

In India, there is nothing quite that unites us all across political allegiances than our respect and reverence for the soldiers who laid their lives for the integrity of our motherland. Vladimir Kamarisky once said that you can only die once so make sure it’s worth it. Can the endless sacrifices of our soldiers ever be measured? The answer is a resounding ‘no’. But war memorials have a way of humbling us, reminding us that we can’t take anyone for granted, and that there are still brave hearts who will do anything to protect our country, selflessly and with a grit second to none.

We collated a list of seven war memorials in India, among the many across the country, that will give you a panoramic understanding of the selfless sacrifices made by our soldiers over the decades.

National War Memorial, New Delhi

The only official war memorial in the country, AD India spoke with Lieutenant General Satish Dua, who served as Chief of Integrated Defence Staff and steered the construction of the war memorial from the design to the execution stage. “We never had a formal, official war memorial in the country,” he says. “The national war memorial is built around the principle of the chakravyuh of the Mahabharata where the first circle represents immortality, the second is that of bravery, followed by the circle of sacrifice, and the fourth and final is the circle of protection.”

The General adds that the idea was to have a sense of sobriety and simplicity in the design without diluting the sublime aspects of a war memorial of such a scale. The challenges during the construction were manifold — from braving heavy rains that had lashed Delhi in the summer of 2018 to navigating high tension, colonial-era underground cables. The construction was further halted in the winters that year when the Supreme Court had temporarily halted construction activities citing air pollution woes.

Lieutenant General Satish Dua

“Interestingly, for the obelisk where the Amar Jawan Jyoti is encased, we received permission only for it to be 1.5 metres because it had to be aligned with the height of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and India Gate,” the General explains. “Later, when the senior bureaucrats came on the ground, they saw that it had to be increased after we explained the scale and scope of the project, and the obelisk now stands at around 15.5 metres.”

For every martyred soldier, the memorial has a dedicated granite brick with the name of the soldier inscribed in gold lettering.

Kargil War Memorial

The most recent war, which took place in 1999, across the icy mountain ranges of Kargil, was successfully won by India. However, many lives were lost. Towards the end, the Indian side was successful in recapturing crucial peaks like Tiger Hill and Point 4875. The war memorial was built in 2004 and is flanked by the Srinagar-Leh highway.

Wikipedia Commons

Darjeeling War Memorial

The Gurkha regiment has been one of the proudest, most loyal regiments in the country. The Gurkha soldiers are still renowned for their ability to cut across enemy lines, fight tirelessly and traverse high mountains and deep rivers alike. At the centre of Batasia Loop in Darjeeling is this memorial dedicated to the Gurkha soldiers who sacrificed their lives since independence.

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Chandigarh War Memorial

Inaugurated by former president APJ Abdul Kalam in 2006, it has the eternal names of around 8,459 martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the country since independence. The memorial has a massive six-metre-tall structure at its centre with pink sandstone walls and names inscribed on black granite.

Ian Brown/Flickr

Also read: The story behind the Vayeda Brothers’ Warli mural in Delhi’s Lodhi Art District

Sea War Memorial, Vizag

The 1971 Indo-Pak war permanently changed the political and geographical course of the Indian subcontinent. This war memorial in India commemorates the soldiers of the Indian Navy who were martyred during the war. It is located near Ramakrishna Beach, adjacent to the submarine museum.

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Tawang War Memorial, Arunachal Pradesh

The first war of independent India was the 1962 Indo-Sino war over border disputes that arose from the territory in and around Arunachal Pradesh. The memorial commemorates the soldiers who were martyred in the 1962 war and is located a few miles away from the Tawang town in Arunachal Pradesh; locally it is known as ‘Namgyal Chortan.’

Siachen War Memorial

There can be no place or time to defend your country. When duty calls, our soldiers have braved impossible conditions to defend the integrity of the county. This memorial is located in the Siachen glacier where the temperatures drop to -55 degrees and commemorate Operation Meghdoot in 1984 which was fought against Pakistan. In keeping with the surroundings, the structure is that of white-clad soldiers climbing a ladder with the tricolour behind. The ladder reads: “Every warrior goes to heaven.”

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