Considering the Indian Armed Forces first proposed a National War Memorial to the Indian Government in the Lord’s Year of 1960, this National War Memorial in New Delhi has been a long time coming.
First off, PHEW. It’s here. It’s open to the public. Free entry. That’s something.
Secondly, criticisms : There’s only one and it’s a big one. It was launched in a rush. Speculation, at least amongst service personnel, is that the current Prime Minister wanted to own the credit for ribbon-cutting before the next Election cycle. Consequentially, there are parts of the Memorial that at already falling apart. There are other parts that are clearly visible as having been finished hastily. Double engravings on the name slabs. Cracks on the concrete under the name slabs. Badly etched names of soldiers.
Politicization of the Indian Armed Forces is something I take special umbrage to.
Thirdly, while I am entirely against glorifying or glamourising war, I am strongly in support of never forgetting our soldiers.
The National War Memorial has memorialized more than 25,000 war casualties. Ranging from the Indo-China War to Kargil, it is staggering to see how many human beings ( mostly men ), have died to keep us safe.
Now, onto the memorial itself. It is right next to India Gate in New Delhi. Wide expanse of space. There’s a combination of green lawns and concrete floors. Grass and trees at the Param Yodhal Sthal, which has busts of Param Vir Chakra awardees like 13 Kumaon’s Major Shaitan Singh ( although the bust is not a very good likeness of the Major ). And concrete floors and a “sthamb” where the names of fallen warriors are memorialized.
Personally, visiting the memorial in the winter season is a more agreeable proposition than visiting it in the Indian Summer Season.
Public Conveniences include at least two well-maintained albeit small toilet sections. We did not look for drinking water but there must be a provision.
We went to visit mainly because FINALLY there’s a memorial to visit. But also because we wanted to pay our respects to the fallen from my father, Brigadier V. P. Singh’s erstwhile unit, the 13th Battalion of the Kumaon Regiment.
There’s a National War Memorial app ( linked to Android app ), that can help you locate the names of specific soldiers according to the year of their passing as well as according to the battalion they served in.
The Wikipedia Page about the memorial will give you more information. The National War Memorial does not yet have a dedicated website. The Museum has not been completed yet.
We did not go through all the spaces at the Memorial, mainly because both the parents were exhausted walking around. We are unsure whether the space is disabled friendly.
There are several Armed Forces personnel in uniforms who can assist you. They may also tell you to not dance in front of the memorial and make videos for your Instagram channel.
For security purposes, only VVIP vehicles are allowed inside these Delhi Police barricades. For the rest of us, you need to find a suitable spot to alight and then walk it.
Do go see it to get a sense of just how many soldiers we’ve lost. And then stop advocating war as the answer to every disagreement with a neighboring country.
I also, strongly suggest, that you look at the dictionary meaning of the word “martyr” and refrain from using it to define our war casualties / soldiers Killed In Action.
( All images photographed on the Fuji X100. )