Why people leave water bottles, not flowers, at this soldier’s memorial in Uttarakhanddehradun Updated: Sep 14, 2017 10:56 IST
Tourists offering water at the memorial in the Nelong Valley.(Tialk Soni/HT Photo)
Many structures have been built in honour of soldiers across India but a peculiar memorial stands in Uttarakhand’s Nelong Valley, where water-filled bottles and not flowers are offered as tribute to soldiers.
On April 6, 1994, three army personnel had set off from their post in the northern region in search of water but lost their lives when they were caught in an avalanche.
A memorial was built in the memory of Havildar Jhum Prasad Gurung, Lance Naik Surender Singh and Gunner Din Bahadur of the 64 Field Regiment in the region perched near the Indo-China border. Eventually, defence personnel started offering water there as a means of paying tributes to their colleagues. “The soldiers had come looking for water but got trapped in an avalanche. Water is offered at the memorial as a mark of respect for them,” said an Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel.
During the 1962 Indo-China War, villagers living in the border area of Nelong were shifted and the region remained closed for civilians for the next five decades. The Uttarakhand government opened a part of the Valley called the ‘Ladakh of Uttarakhand’ for regulated tourism in 2015. Since then, tourists have been coming to the memorial, which is located around 11,000 feet above sea level, and offering water bottles to honour the jawans.
“The memorial has become a major hit with the visitors who make sure to offer water filled in bottles and pay their heartfelt tributes to the brave jawans,” said Tilak Soni, a tourism expert who strove for reopening of the Valley.
According to the tourists, the small structure was a reminder of the hardships country’s soldiers faced in line of duty.
“I felt a sudden chill hearing their story...it was an eye opening experience knowing about the challenges our soldiers face ,” said a tourist Mansi Modi.