A rich repository of Army heritage in the woods

Army Heritage Museum displays 5,000-yr-old history of courageous feats of military from Mahabharata to present times

Bhanu P Lohumi

Nestled amid towering deodars and sprawling green lawns with Annandale in its backdrop and original armored car and SP Gun stationed at the entrance, the Army Heritage Museum is the only museum of its kind in the country. It has become a major tourist attraction in the Queen of Hills — Shimla. 

Just 5 km from the main city, the museum displays the 5,000-year-old rich history of the courageous feats of the military dating back from the Mahabharata to the present times.

Established in 2006 by the Army Training Command (ARTRAC), the museum was dedicated to the citizens of Shimla by Lt General KS Jamwal, AVSM, VSM, as Shimla remained the General Headquarter (GHQ) of the Army during the British Raj and the relation between Army and Shimlaites is as old as the Gurkha war.

The rare collection of captured flag of the 1st Bahawalpur Infantry Battalion of Pakistan; execution order of Mangal Pandey, who raised the banner of rebellion against the British in 1857; Khuda Dad Khan, the first Indian to be decorated with the Victoria Cross; and the original dress of the first commissioned women officer of the India Army — Major Priya Jhingan, adorn the museum.

Vignettes of glorious traditions, military philosophy and training, history of Indian Army, chronology of military events, chiefs of Indian Army and change in uniform (evolution of khakhi to present combat uniform), are also exhibited at the museum spread in four sections – Heritage, Himachal corner, Shaurya hall and glass house. 

A section is dedicated to brave soldiers and officers of the Indian Army with the photographs of all 21 Param Vir Chakra awardees illustrated on the wall. A list of gallantry awardees, heroes of Himachal, models of battlefields of Battle of Longewala and Tololing (Kargil), busts of four Param Vir Chakra winners and two Ashok Chakra awardees from Himachal are also on display.

A replica of arms from the Vedic period to dismantled weapons used in World War I and II, 1962 war, insignia of divisions, commands and category-A establishments, flags, honours and awards and Indian Army’s contribution to the UN peacekeeping efforts are also illustrated, besides a collage showing yeoman services of the Indian Army in the times of disaster, relationship of the Army with music, sports and adventure activities and connection of the Army with environment.

The museum that preserves the heritage for future generations has become an added tourist attraction in the Queen of hills, says curator Yashpal Mehta, adding that models of tanks and aircraft are admired by all, especially kids.

“Ït is a beautiful and peaceful place, where people can spend time in the lap of nature and also know about our heroes,” say Sanjeev and Nidhi, a tourist couple from Bengaluru, adding that the small eating joint on the premise was all one could ask for. 

“The heritage museum is all about the Indian Army, its soldiers, their virtues, loyalty to comrades, fidelity, courage, valour and mindset,” says Colonel Ajay Dabur and Col Raminder Chimni, in-charge, Army Heritage Museum. They said the purpose was to motivate people to join the force. The upkeep of the museum is with the ARTRAC.

"It is a beautiful and peaceful place, where people can spend time in the lap of nature and also know about our heroes. The small eating joint on the premise was all one could ask for.Sanjeev and Nidhi, A tourist couple from Bengaluru

"The heritage museum is all about the Indian Army, its soldiers, their virtues, loyalty to comrades, fidelity, courage, valour and mindset." Col Ajay Dabur and Col Raminder Chimni, In-charge, Army Heritage Museum

RELATED Know your heritage