In Time of War & Peace

In Time of War & Peace
Flag Down Ceremony at Wagah Attari Border, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

War came and left a huge hole in the lives of people and places. This list is our way of glorifying peace and not war. Visit and pay your respects

Precious Kamei
February 22 , 2019
08 Min Read

All we are saying is give peace a chance
                                                    ~~John Lenon

My visit to Wagah Border last year gave me plenty of mixed feelings. Located in Attari village in Amritsar, the border is a No Man's Land zone between India and Pakistan. As I made my way towards the entrance to the arena, from a distance I saw two flags fluttering, one green and the other a tri-colour. Who moved them both? The same wind did. Where did they stand? On the same ground they did. But there was and is a lot of facts (sad and happy) attached to these two flags and the place where I was standing. People started coming in, though Pakistani side was a much smaller crowd compared to the Indian side. Marching band, flag bearing dancing troops, men and women in uniform, and even service dogs, all in perfect formation performed acts that were met with thunderous applause and jubiliant cries. But in the midst of applause, how could jeering stay behind? With every beat of the drum and every stride of the Pakistani Rangers, came a louder and more thunderous counter applause from the Indian side. From where I was sitting, I could hear, see and feel the energy, not necessarily a positive one, coming from our side and it made me wonder that maybe, just maybe, is this too much? Reliving war can't be a fun experience for anyone. I could be wrong and I may be ruffling some feathers real bad, but from what I experienced that evening was a celebration of war, not peace and harmony. I didn't find any sane reason to glorify war and isn't it just that when we scream insults every time folks beyond the fence display their routine? Just a thought. My thoughts that day went straight to those who lost their lives in the fight for geographical boundaries and their families that were left behind to mourn their absence. Pride may be one of the many feelings but it definitely wouldn't have outshone grief for the lost loved ones. I kept asking myself for the sake of those who sacrificed their lives for the nation, given a chance, what would have been their choice--war or peaceful tolerance?

India has seen her fair share of wars and battles and it is still going on. When we revisit the old chapters of bloodshed and war torn regions, we are left with places that have made an impact. In times of war they have looked and felt a lot different than what they do now. Here are six destinations in India where you can go and gets a glimpse of whats left of war.

Kohima War Cemetary, Nagaland
Kohima War Cemetary in Kohima, Nagaland

Located in the scenic Kohima, the capital of Nagaland, this was where a crucial battle was won by the Allied Forces during the Second World War, which caused the Japanese army to take a step back. The well-manicured cemetary ground is a place of peace now, overlooking the town of Kohima. The cemetary commemorates the names of those 917 Hindu and Sikh soldiers who were a part of British Indian Army and lost their lives on the battlefield. One of the two memorials on the ground reads:

Here, around the tennis court of the deputy commissioner, lie men who fought in the battle of Kohima in which they and their comrades finally halted the invasion of India by the forces of Japan in April 1944. ”

One of the many graves with no name at Kohima War CemetaryWhile the other, dedicated to the 2nd Division, reads:
When you go home tell them of us and say for your tomorrow we gave our today

Also at the site is a cherry tree where a plaque reads:
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

The old cherry tree is no more but a branch of it was grafted which is now the present tree. The Japs used the old tree for target practice and because of which, the Battle of Kohima is also called the "Battle Under the Cherry Tree"

How To Reach
Dimapur, two hours away from Kohima is the nearest airport and railhead. One can reach Dimapur (by air) via Kolkata from all major Indian cities.

India Peace Memorial / Battle of Imphal, Manipur
India Peace Memorial in ManipurThe memorial is an act of reconciliation and honouring the dead, not glorifying the Battle of Imphal, the Second World War of 1944. It was on this spot that many lives were lost, because of which the site is also called Red Hill. One can't ignore the Imphal War Cemetary which is now home to the graves of 1,600 fallen Indian and Allied soldiers who fought the Japs during the Second World War. And lastly, the INA Museum at Moirang is home to some of the rarest wartime relics and photographs. Think INA Museum, think Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

How To Reach
Imphal can be reached via air and road. By air, Imphal is connected directly or via Kolkata from all major cities in India.
 
Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab
One of the signs at Jallianwala BaghApril 13, 1919 was a Sunday and also the day of Baisakhi festival. It didn't take long for that day to turn into one of the bloodiest and most brutal incidents in the history of British India. Thinking it was a mass protest rally, an act of defiance in the eyes of Colonel Reginald Dyer against the Rowlatt Act of 1919, he ordered an open fire at the crowd of thousands of pilgrims, festival goers and those who had gathered at the Jallianwala Bagh after an early closing of the Baisakhi cattle fair. Thousands of casualties and 1650 rounds of bullets later, the garden right next to Harmandir Sahib turned into a ghastly scene of death of not just human beings but of humanity as a whole. The walls that surround the garden still have holes that bullets made that day. Present-day Jallianwala Bagh is a memorial one should visit. The memorial is managed by the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust.
 
How To Reach
Amritsar is easily accessible by air, rail and road. Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport is well-connected with all major Indian cities; nearest railhead is Amritsar Junction Railway Station. 
 
Wagah Border in Amritsar, Punjab
Indian Border Security Force and Pakistani Rangers during the Wagah Attari Border CeremonyLocated at a distance of 24 km from Lahore in Pakistan and 32 km from Amritsar in India, Wagah town is crucial when we speak of War Tourism in India. The town is most famous for the Wagah Attari Border Ceremony. The border gets its name from the Radcliffe Line that was drawn as the boundary demarcation line dividing India and Pakistan during the Partition of British India. At the time of independence in 1947, thousands of people migrated to Pakistan through this border. The Wagah Border ceremony takes place daily, two hours before sunset, where the flag ceremony is conducted by both Pakistani Rangers and Indian Border Security Force (BSF).
 
How To Reach
Amritsar is easily accessible by air, rail and road. Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport is well-connected with all major Indian cities; nearest railhead is Amritsar Junction Railway Station. 
 
Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands
 
Long jail corridor with solitary confinement cells
Also popularly known as Kala Pani, thed colonial prison was where political prisoners were incarcerated. Freedom fighters such as Batukeshwar Dutt, Yogendra Shukla and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar among many others were exiled to this remote location during the struggle for India's Independence. Prisoners from India, Karachi and Burma (Myanmar) were put here for life. As the independence movement grew, so did the number of prisoners in Cellular Jail. An erstwhile place of isolation has now become a place of great importance.

How To Reach
There are two ways to reach Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands—by air and by sea. There are direct flights to Port Blair from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Visakhapatnam. By sea, there are ships that sail from Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Kolkata.
 
World War II Cemetary in Changlang
Just recently discovered, this World War II Cemetary in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh is yet to be developed as a tourist site. This falls under the Still Well Road that linked Ledo in Assam to Kunming in China during pre-independence. 
 
 

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