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First of its kind "Gorkha war musuem" in the country

The first of its kind Gorkha Musuem is all set to come up in Darjeeling in West Bengal, depicting primarily the martial aspect of the Gorkhas, known throughout the world for their bravery. Amitava Banerjee reports.

india Updated: Apr 08, 2012 19:18 IST
Amitava Banerjee
Amitava Banerjee
Hindustan Times

The first of its kind Gorkha Musuem is all set to come up in Darjeeling in West Bengal, depicting primarily the martial aspect of the Gorkhas, known throughout the world for their bravery.

Pegged at Rs 1 crore, the museum will be located adjacent to the Gorkha War Memorial at the Batasia Loop, 6 km from Darjeeling town. Jaswant Singh, Lok Sabha MP, Darjeeling laid the foundation stone for the museum on Sunday.

A personal initiative has actually paved way for this museum. 58-year-old Hemant Kumar Pradhan has been collecting war artifacts (medals, photographs, weapons, uniforms) related to the Gorkha regiments since he was 17 years old. Having managed a sizable collection of these rare artifacts, he has been running from pillar to post sharing his idea of a Gorkha war museum. Pradhan has even organized numerous exhibitions of his personal collection.

“Pradhan’s initiative truly fascinated us and we decided to work on it” stated Amar Singh Rai, Chairman Darjeeling Municipality. “With the idea being floated, we approached various persons including the MP. He was very receptive to the idea and assured us of all cooperation” stated Saumitra Mohan, District Magistrate, Darjeeling. Singh will be contributing Rs 25 lakhs from the MP Local Area Development Fund for this project.

Incidentally Pradhan inspired by his mother carefully preserving his father’s “Burma Star” (a medal,) started taking deep interest in war artifacts. His collection now includes 200 medals (including Shamana medal of 1891; Tibet medal of 1903-04; Abor expedition medal of 1911-12 along with first and second world war medals,) photographs, uniforms and a surrendered Samurai sword.

“A museum has been my dream since 1972. Finally after 40 years of hard work my dream is all set to come true” stated Pradhan.

Applauding Pradhan’s initiative, Singh stated “I request the West Bengal Government for full cooperation. Work has to commence immediately without further delay. Let is be a one of its kind museum so that along with the masses, Gorkhas from all over the world, (whether Gorkhas from India, British Gorkhas or Gorkhas from Nepal,) visit this museum for a tryst with their rich and glorious history.” Pravin Mukhia, architect who had designed the Gorkha War Memorial in the past, stated “ The two storied building with a terrace will compliment the war memorial and will together for the Gorkha War Park.”

The ground floor will house the museum will display artifacts in chronological order depicting the history of the Gorkha regiments (both Indian and British Gorkha regiments.) The first floor will house the trustee office, the archives, a research museum and a lecture and seminar hall (which can also be used for audio-visual exhibits.) The terrace will have a view deck (from where the Mount Kachenjunga can be viewed) along with a park displaying history, busts of Victoria Cross (British army) recipients and o recipients of Param Vir Chakra, Maha Vir Chakra and other coveted decorations of the Indian Army.

Some facts-

First Gorkha battalion (then named Nasiri regiment) in April 1815 later named King George’s Own Gurkha Rifle.

The Gorkha regiments in the British-Indian army saw action in Anglo-Sikh wars, Afghan wars, supressing Indian Rebellion of 1857 and both World Wars.

Following Indian Independence a tripartite agreement between India, Great Britain and Nepal, out of the 10 Gorkha regiments, India retained 6 regiments while 4 regiments joined the British army (knows as the Brigade of Gurkhas.) The 11th Gorkha regiment was raised in India after independence.

The regiments with the Indian army include 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 11

The regiments with the British include 2, 6, 7 and 10.

In the two World Wars 200,000 Gorkhas had taken part out of which 43,000 lost their lives.

In the Indian forces the Gorkha regiments saw action in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Siachen and in the UN peace keeping forces in Lebanon and Sierra Leone.

In the British Army the Gurkhas saw action in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Borneo, Cyprus, Falklands, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pictures by Suman Baraily

First Published: Apr 08, 2012 18:00 IST