Our school plans excursions to various local monuments for students from Class 5 onwards. The management decided that it was the best way for our wards to know understand Indian heritage and culture, more so Pune’s glorious History.
Last February, I was in charge of taking my Class 7 students to the National War Memorial Pune – Southern Command in Pune. The kids were super excited and so was I. A history-enthusiast myself, I was eagerly waiting for the trip.
The National War Memorial Pune Southern Command
It is a proud and magnificent building in Morwada Junction in the Pune cantonment area.
This monument is dedicated to martyrs of the post-independence period. It was built as a sign of gratitude to Indian soldiers, sailors, and airmen who made the supreme sacrifice to protect our national borders.
It was an initiative of Citizens, only one of its kind in South Asia, and also stands as a great example of civil-military relations.
Day of Excursion
The day of the excursion arrived and my students attired in their cleanest clothes rushed into the buses allotted to them. Since our school is just 20 minutes away, the journey was not tiring. The kids entered the War Memorial with the same enthusiasm as they felt at the start of the journey.
One of my teachers who had joined briefed us about its history…
The idea for the Memorial was mooted during the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the India-Pak war 1971. Accordingly, a committee of citizens was formed in 1997 by Indian Express resolving that the memorial will be built without waiting for Government support. Funds were collected from citizens themselves and work began in earnest.
Unveiled on 15 August 1998, it was dedicated to the nation by Maharashtra Governor Dr. PC Alexandar.
Inside the War memorial
So interested were my students that I saw a few even jotting details on paper.
They were overawed at the tall Memorial at a high granite tower, towering at 18 meters. On all sides of this tower were Marble panels. The panels had names of 2847 martyrs who laid down their lives for our nation since 15th august 1947.
Many renovations have been made since it was open in 1998. In the year 2008, a compound wall, pathways, and gate were added. Landscaping and new displays were also done.
My class students were excited and to see the top of the 101 feet flag mast inaugurated in 2011.
You can allocate an hour’s time to view all the exhibits in this Memorial. But visitors may need the help of army personnel to navigate the whole complex effectively.
The MIG-23 BN placed in the premises was actually the one used during the Kargil war!
A Replica of Decommissioned frigate INS Trishul, used both in the Liberation of Goa and Indo-Pak war 1971 can also be seen.
There are about 21 busts of Param Vir Chakra awardees, installed after the renovation.
Other attractions here are the uniforms, personal mementos and uniforms that were given by Scotland to British Army.
Also on display are rare photos from World War I and some mentions of the glorious Maratha Empire.
There are many guns, rockets, tanks, and models that were used by Indian soldiers to guard the nation. Some tanks include T-55, Patton Tanks, Mission Pawan, used against LTTE in Sri Lanka, captured from Pakistan, APCs or Armoured Personnel carriers, and more.
Engraved galleries in the Command theater that described major battles was both interesting and informative.
Parade on Saturday
This Parade begins at 5.40 pm where the first Mahar Battalion marches towards the memorial playing “My Home” using the Scottish Pipe. The marching in is in tandem with the music. Live commentary helps the onlookers know finer details about the ceremony.
The band also plays the famous “Sare Jahan se Acha” as the contingent salutes the war heroes.
The wreath laying ceremony is carried out and also the lowering of flag.
The kids were very interested to stay back for the evening Parade. I advised them to come back to the memorial along with their parents during the holidays to view the wonderful event which gave every citizen of India goosebumps.
I also suggested they not miss out on the light and sound held every Saturday and Sunday. The 45 minutes show will show the contributions of the Indian Army post-independence in training, national building, and its disaster support.
How to reach there
Pune is connected to all the major cities in India by air.
Pune is connected to all the major cities in India by train. This location is just 2 kms away from Pune Railway station.
Since this memorial is in Pune Cantonment, you can reach it by local transport or car.
The memorial is open between 9 am – 5.30 pm. Entry is free for all. This memorial is closed on Tuesdays.
It is one of the best places for history lovers and tourists coming to Pune
Languages spoken here are Hindi, Marathi, and English
Some hotels nearby Hotel ShivKrupa, Apples Trees Hospitality, OYO Townhouse, Lemon Tree premier are some hotels nearby in case you want to stay close by during your Pune trip. Please do check our shaniwar wada post.