“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 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.
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.
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?
I was happy, I caught the light.
Lens Artist Challenge : It’s all about the light