challenges · Heritage · Photography

It’s All About The Light And The Way A Gurkha Fights.

“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or a Gurkha.”

-Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

A legendary statement made by a legendary man.

I had my light bulb moment when I first heard of the Battle of Nalapani. It was fought between the Gurkhas and the British right here in my town of Dehradun in 1814. Two war memorials came up to remember it by.

The first one was rather plain, painted in white, Gillespie Memorial named after the British General in charge, Rollo Gillespie.

It was constructed right after the war commemorating the victory of the English over the Gurkhas.

As stories go, the British were caught in the backfoot by the opposition in a battle they thought would be a cakewalk. They suffered heavy losses. General Rollo Gillespie died in the first charge itself. The British won but had to grudgingly acknowledge the bravery of their worthy adversary.

They did by dedicating the same memorial to the Gurkhas for their exemplary courage under fire.

The Gillespie War Memorial in Dehradun, Uttarakhand , India
Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.- J K Rowling

Unusual, right?

The other war memorial that goes by the name of Khalanga Memorial is relatively new. It was made by the local Gurkha community. Wikipedia says that in 1814, a stand was made by 600 against a 5000 British troop for more than a month.

Khalanga was the name of their fort.

Tucked in the middle of the forest, it stands where perhaps the fort stood during the Anglo- Nepalese war. The British razed that fort to the ground after they won.

Since this place is not on the known circuit, many people skip it.

Not me. I for one had to click the forest road.

Sunlight streaming theough tall trees witha road turning into the forest floor in Tapovan, Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
I am alive, and drunk on sunlight. – George R R Martin

It reminded me of Erica Sehyun Song’s quote, “Sunlight streamed in a steady flow, casting flecks of gold on the floor.”

Prayer flags fluttering, silence broken by the chirping of the invisible birds, rustling of the leaves and the gentle sunshine bathing the forest floor.

That’s Khalanga for me.

Khalanga war memorial dedicated to the Gurkhas in Dehradun , Uttarakhand
May it be a light to you in dark places , when all other lights go out. – J R.R Tolkien

A narrow dirt track lead from the side of the towering memorial into the jungle.

Scurrying and sliding, I came to a stop in front of an enormous boulder that clung tenaciously to the hillside. This boulder was cleanly split into two.

Was it a cannonball from the war that did it?

Perhaps the boulder was a part of the fort that was razed.

Nah, natural contraction and expansion.

I swatted the busy thoughts aside. The dappled sunlight sang its siren song. Come, click the boulder that cracked from side to side. How could I resist?

A huge boulder split neatly at the Khalanga memorial in Dehradun, Uttarakhand .
There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in . – Leonard Cohen .

I was happy, I caught the light.

Lens Artist Challenge : It’s all about the light

RDP: ramble


38 thoughts on “It’s All About The Light And The Way A Gurkha Fights.

    1. Sometimes a quote fits a picture perfectly and many times just the quote is enough. Leonard Cohen couldn’t have said more truer words and they were perfect for this post. Thank you, Neil. Happy to read your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That’s beautiful Sheetal. It always makes me sad to think of the many wars waged by conquerors over others who preceded them. One wonders if it will ever end. Your wonderful images of the forest, the fort and the split boulder tell a compelling story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wise words Tina, war and peace is what we have always struggled with.

      This post was especially telling because the winning side acknowledged the bravery of their gallant adversary in a war memorial that celebrated their victory. Honestly, I haven’t seen that anywhere so I had to document it. Thank you for appreciating my post, Tina. 😊


  2. Well it was the Battle of Nalapani that gave birth to the now famous Gorkha Rifles of the British and Indian Army. The fierceness with which the Gurkha warriors faught won the admiration of the British and they recruited them in the Royal British Indian Army…excellent piece Sheetal…reminded me of the long discussion we had on how the boulder was split…guess that will always be a mystery…😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ok, I can see someone has been researching diligently which is very impressive. Kudos Sharad.
      Also much appreciate you sharing this interesting info on how the Gurkhas were recruited by the British. I know I wanted to fit that and now it is a part of this post via the comment section. Our discussion on the split boulder remains incomplete. Perhaps we need to pick up the threads again, after some more research of course. Till next time😊


  3. Beautiful post. The boulder is one to inspire a fairy tale. I’ve never heard the Sam Manekshaw quite before but having lived and worked alongside lots of Ghurka soldiers in the British Army… he is dead right.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent, Sheetal. I know about the Gurkhas, and was thrilled to live in an old Gurkha’s house at the foot of Fishtail Mountain, Nepal, in 1986. A couple of Monitor lizards patrolled the grounds daily, and I remember they were impressively big…
    Love the idea of the double memorial and love the famous quotes. When I think of the old soldier, I remember him as rather small and strong. It was a thrilling stay.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the compliments and for sharing that excellent story, Ann- Christine. I could perfectly imagine the house in the mountains, the monitor lizards and even the old soldier. It must have been quite an adventure.
      Sighting a monitor lizard has become rare in my part of the world but it is exciting when we do. I remember one picnic with my class that had all the children in a tizzy. Apparently a few kids spotted a ‘baby dinosaur’ sunning itself. 😊


      1. Sad to hear they are fewer now – but at least they are still there! Those days in Nepal seem like a dream now. Did it really happen? Traveling, I guess, is over for now.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. So much of History resides in the nooks and corners of our rich country! Thank you for sharing this piece!
        Love the way every quote is so apt for the picture and the words!!

        Liked by 2 people

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