Kargil War Memorial – Drass, Ladakh

The Kargil War memorial was built in 2000 by the Indian Army in the town of Dras, commemorating the historic success of Operation Vijay in the year 1999, when the Kargil War was fought between India and Pakistan. It was later renovated in 2014.

It is located on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway, about 5 km from the city center across Tiger Hill.
Since it is located in the town of Dras of Kargil district in Jammu and Kashmir, it is also known as the “Dras War Memorial.”

Kargil war memorial

Since the beginning, this Memorial has received many visitors, both from India and from other countries. There are numerous memorial services held at the Kargil War Memorial on various anniversaries and other festivals such as Republic Day and Kargil Vijay Diwas day.

In 2012 the Flag Foundation of India gifted a giant national flag weighing 15 kg. On 26th of July 2012, the day of Kargil Vijay Diwas, the colossal flag was hoisted at the Kargil war memorial to celebrate India’s success and commemorate India’s victory 13th anniversary.

History of Kargil War Memorial

1999 Pakistani Army crossed the Line of Control (LoC), captured many hills like Tololing, Tiger Hills along the LoC of the Indian state, and occupied national highway roads connecting Leh.
To retake the Pakistani forces’ territories, the Indian Army launched Operation Vijay(“Victory,”) in May 1999, which led to the Kargil war.

The war was fought in the mountainous regions of Kargil in the extreme temperature of minus 40 degrees Celsius.
Several days after the war started, on 26 July 1999, India declared a historic victory in the battleground against Pakistan.
To honor the momentous victory and pay homage to the lion-hearted martyrs who lost their lives fighting for our motherland, The Kargil War memorial was constructed by the Indian Army in the foothills of Tololing hills.

Every year 26 July, is celebrated as “Kargil Vijay Diwas,” when The Prime Minister of India pays tribute to the soldiers at “Amar Jawan Jyothi” at the India Gate, New Delhi.

Entrance of the Memorial

The Memorial’s front gate is enclosed by pink walls with splendid mountains surrounding it in the background.

Vijaypath

A broad pathway lined up with the flags is called Vijaypath (Path of Victory). It leads to another giant tricolor Indian flag. The triumphant tower bearing the words “Op Vijay” stands on Vijaypath, over which the Indian Tricolor Flag flutters high in the air.

Amar Jawan Jyoti

Below the giant flag, a pavilion is built named the “Amar Jawan Jyoti.” Amar Jawan Jyoti’s eternal flame is dedicated to the war’s heroic martyrs and is always kept lit.

Memorial Wall

The golden Memorial Wall is also termed the “Wall of Heroes.” Built-in pink sandstone, the majestic wall of the Memorial bears a brass plate engraved with names of the soldiers who died during Operation Vijay.

Manoj Pandey Gallery

The Memorial consists of the Captain Manoj Pandey gallery, also known as the Hut of Remembrance. It is dedicated to the gallant Dras savior, Captain Manoj Pandey. He was also awarded the Param Vir Chakra posthumously, India’s highest military award, given for valorous leadership during the battle.
At the gallery entrance, the remains of the martyrs are kept in the “Shradha Suman Kalash.”

Inside the gallery, the war museum showcases letters of the soldiers to their family members, patriotic poems of the fearless jawans, and actual photographs of war.
On one side, numerous army emblems, national awards, war document archives, seized Pakistani arms, and ammunitions are displayed.
On the other side, beautiful miniatures of the Tiger Hills and Himalayan mountain range are also kept inside the war museum.

Veer Bhumi or The Memorial Stones

On the left side of the War Museum is the memorial ground called “Veer Bhumi,” where the names of Indian soldiers along with their rank are inscribed on the memorial stones. It also mentioned when and how they gave up their lives fighting enthusiastically till their last breath.

A magnificent sculpture of the soldiers is created to celebrate the victory, with soldiers holding India’s tricolor flag against a mighty hill.

Other sites at the Memorial

Captured enemy camps, a helipad, and eminent war weapons with a detailed description are displayed outside the Manoj Pandey Gallery.

Light and Sound Show

The light and sound show and a video documentary are presented for about 15 minutes that is unmissable. It explains the condition of the Indian soldiers and also depicts actual scenes of the war.

Souvenir Shop

There is also a souvenir shop that sells hats, T-Shirts, coffee mugs, and many such items that will remind you of your memorable visit to the war memorial.

Cafeteria

On the other side, there is a cafeteria run by the Indian Army where you can have some snacks or a light meal.

My tour experience at the Kargil War Memorial

Now you know the facts and history of the Kargil War Memorial. Let me narrate to you my tour experience of the War Memorial, Kargil.

The road trip around Dras was a fascinating experience, with the clear blue skies flattering the snow-capped mountains.
We reached the Kargil War Memorial at around 10 am in the morning and prepared ourselves for the overwhelmingly emotional tour.

Kargil war memorial gate

As we stood in front of the gate, we could see the entire Memorial enveloped in the pink walls of sandstone. In golden words, the wall beside the entrance said
‘Forever in Operation, All save some, some save all, gone but never forgotten.’

We did an entry into the register and entered inside. The pathway that leads to the Amar Jawan Jyoti was lined up with Indian flags on both sides. We actually felt the feeling of great pride stirring up inside us as we walked alongside the flags.

Kargil war memorial Flags

As we reached closer, a soldier explained the significant events of the war and also shared the stories of the soldiers who had sacrificed their lives protecting our country.

Drass war memorial Gun

On the left side of the Vijaypath, we saw some primary weapons of the Kargil War, such as the Bofor Guns, and 75/24 Pack Howitzer were displayed.

Dras war memorial Bofors

On the Right side, the fighter planes (MIG 21) were displayed.

Dras war memorial Mig 21

Then we started walking past the Memorial Stones known as “Veer Bhumi.” Each stone had a name and soldier’s rank engraved on it and a few words in his honor. We stood quietly for some time and finally saluted them as a tribute to their courage, bravery, and sacrifice.

Kargil war memorial veer bhumi

With tears in our eyes, we walked towards the Amar Jawan Jyoti. It was lit with the eternal flame in remembrance of all those who fought and gave up their lives fighting for our motherland.

A few lines were written below the flame from the Hindi poem “Pushp Ki Abhilasha” by Makhanlal Chaturvedi.
In the poem, a flower says it does not want to be offered in a temple or adorn a woman. Instead, it wants to lie on the path where the brave men walk to protect and defend their country. That is where the flower would find its absolutely perfect place.

Kargil war memorial amar jawaan

Behind the tower, there was a golden wall, also known as the Memorial Wall. The names of all the war heroes were inscribed on it who were martyred in the Kargil War.
From the Memorial, Tololing Heights and Point 4875 (Batra Top) were visible, where fighting occurred during the battle. On the other side, the fiercest of battlegrounds during Operation Vijay, Tiger Hill that safeguarded the Indian land and forced the enemies to return from the Line Of Control.

Kargil war memorial hut of remembrance

We entered the Manoj Pandey Gallery or The Hut of Remembrance. It was divided into three sections. In the first section, the revered ashes of the martyrs named Shradha Soman Kalash are kept in a pot. The Shradhanjali Kalash is presented to the Indian Army every year on Vijay Diwas (26 July). It is featured by a Delhi-based NGO known as “Citizen’s Society of India” in memory of the soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice during Operation Vijay.
In the same section, we saw some letters of the Indian Army to their families and nationalistic poems written by the soldiers during the war. The poem “Agnipath” by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, with a message from his famous son Amitabh Bachchan, was an absolute source of inspiration for anyone who reads it.

In the second section, we came across some real pictures of the army men from the war and the places where the battle occurred. On the other side, photographs of some of the famous war heroes along with the national awards presented to them were also displayed on the wall.

Kargil war memorial guns

In the third section, some seized weapons like G-3 Rifle, Universal Machine Gun, and AK47 were kept in a showcase. On the wall, images of Pakistani forces and their captured identity cards proved the fact that the intruders who occupied the Indian territories were from Pakistan. Towards the end of the war memorial, we saw an inverted Pakistani flag captured during the battle. It reminded us of our glorious victory and the humiliating defeat of the rival forces.

As we walked out of the Manoj Pandey Gallery with heavy hearts, we found this beautiful message from the soldiers for the countrymen-
“When you go home, tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.”

We were intensely emotional, proud, and grateful – all at the same time. A few young army men were engaged in performing their regular duties. So, we thanked them and admired them for their hard work, patience, and sacrifice, which they put into it.

We went inside the cafeteria, where the army men served us some tea and snacks.

Heading to the last part of the Memorial, there was a souvenir shop. We bought a few t-shirts, hats, and coffee mugs with different imprints of the Tiger Hill and the Kargil War victory. There were also some other kinds of stuff that depicted Kargil and the Indian Army’s culture.

As we walked out of the Kargil War Memorial, the entire sight of the place stirred our hearts, filling it with extreme patriotism and gratitude for the army men.

Some of the famous war heroes who were featured in the Kargil War Memorial:

  1. Captain Vikram Batra from 13 JAK Rifles
    Award: Param Vir Chakra
    War Achievement: Recaptured Peak 5140 and went for another mission to capture Peak 4875.

“Either I will come back after hoisting the tricolor (Indian flag), or I will come back wrapped in it, but I will be back for sure.”

Capt. Vikram Batra

2. Grenadier Yogendra Singh Yadav
Battalion: 18 Grenadiers
Award: Param Vir Chakra
War Achievement: Captured Tololing Top and three strategic bunkers located on the top curve, around 16500 feet high on the Tiger Hill.

“A soldier is like a selfless lover. With this unconditional love comes determination. And for this love for his nation, his regiment, and his fellow soldiers, a soldier doesn’t think twice before risking his life.”

Yogendra Singh Yadav

3. Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey
Battalion: (1/11 Gorkha Rifles)
Award: Param Vir Chakra

“Some goals are so worthy; it’s glorious even to fail.”
“If death strikes before I prove my blood, I swear I’ll kill death.”

Lt. Manoj Kumar Panday

4. Lieutenant Balwan Singh
Battalion (18 Grenadiers)
Awards: Maha Vir Chakra
War achievement: Recaptured Tiger Hill Top from the North-Eastern direction.

  1. Major Rajesh Singh Adhikari
    Battalion: 18 Grenadiers
    Awards: Maha Vir Chakra
    War Achievement: Recaptured the second position at Tololing Hill
  2. Rifleman Sanjay Kumar
    Battalion: 13 JAK Rif
    Awards: Param Vir Chakra
    War Achievement: Recaptured Flat Top of Point 4875 in the Mushkoh Valley.
  3. Major Vivek Gupta
    Battalion 2 Rajputana Rifles
    Awards: Maha Vir Chakra
    War Achievement: Launched a fierce attack on Tololing Top in the Drass Sector.
  4. Captain N Kenguruse
    Battalion: 2 RAJ RIF
    Awards: Maha Vir Chakra
    War Achievement: Launched an attack on Area Black Rock in the Drass Sector.
  5. Lt. Keishing Clifford Nongrum
    Battalion: 12 JAK LI
    Awards: Maha Vir Chakra
    War Achievement: Recaptured Point 4812 from the south-eastern direction in the Batalik Sector.
  6. Naik Digendra Kumar
    Battalion: 2 RAJ RIF
    Awards: Maha Vir Chakra
    War Achievements: Captured a well-fortified enemy position on the Tololing Hill.

Kargil war Drass war memorial is a place to
soak the feeling of patriotism and valor of brave
Indian soldiers who risks their lives to protect the
nation

Swapnil P. Dhatrak

How to reach Kargil war Memorial or Drass war Memorial?

You can opt from below the two main highways to Drass war Memorial:

Route 1 – Manali – Jispa- Leh – Drass War Memorial

RouteTravel TimeDistance
1Manali to Jispa2 hr90 km
2Jispa to Leh9 hr336 km
3Leh to Drass8 hr263 km

Route 2 – Jammu – Srinagar – Leh – Drass war memorial

RouteTravel TimeDistance
1Jammu to Srinagar7 hours260
2Srinagar to Drass6 hours148

Best time to visit

May to September is the best time to visit this place. During these months, the Kargil weather and temperature would be very pleasing and comfortable. Also, the NH1 road from Srinagar via Zojila would be open during these months of the year.

Insider tips for travellers

General tips
  • Kargil war memorial is well maintained by the Indian army, so, maintain the decorum and sanctity of the Memorial.
  • Sunrays in Ladakh are of very high intensity. So, use sunscreen lotion to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Wear sunglass during bright sunny days
  • Keep a tab on weather and check the weather prediction report a day before your visit
  • Carry a BSNL, Airtel, or Jio postpaid SIM card with you, as, prepaid SIM of other states won’t be functional in Ladakh.
If you are traveling via a flight to Leh and then to Kargil War Memorial
  • Book your flight tickets early, as, it’s a peak season the prices might go higher.
  • Google flights have this amazing option of keeping an alert. So, find your flight on google flights and then opt for the alert. Now, whenever the price surge or decreases you will instantly get an e-mail alert from google flights.
  • Bring some warm clothes, as nights in Drass are chilly even in summer.
  • Rest on the first day of arrival in Leh and stay hydrated for acclimatization
  • Rent an oxygen cylinder in Leh and carry it in your vehicle before starting your trip to Kargil war Memorial
If you are traveling via road to Leh or Srinagar and then to Kargil war memorial
  • Start the trip from Manali to Leh Route and return from Kargil and Drass route. On the way, while returning from Leh, you can visit the Kargil war memorial.
  • Google map works efficiently in Ladakh. Make sure your GPS is working well. Find the Google map direction here, It will navigate you to the Kargil war memorial. Also, download an offline map of Ladakh in the Google map app.
  • The car should be in a good condition. As Kargil is a remote place it would be difficult to find a car mechanic there. Also, don’t forget to carry all the necessary tools in case of any emergency breakdown like punctures.
  • The temperature during the nighttime in Drass is very cold. So, carry an extra car battery as the extreme cold weather condition can overwhelm the car, and you might need backup.
  • During the months of April and May, the roads to Drass are not in a good condition. The vehicle can stall and get stuck in messy situations, and it is good to have a rope and other tools that can help you out of any such problem.
  • Refuel your car to a full tank in Leh if you are coming from Leh or Srinagar. As the number of fuel stations is limited to a few on the way to Drass.

Sum up

Kargil war memorial (or Drass war memorial) is a great place for those who love military history. Built-in 2000, the museum has a rich history that dates back to the 1999 Kargil war. The Indian army has contributed a great deal in making the museum what it is today. 

A visit to the Kargil war Memorial is like taking a glimpse into the Kargil war of 1999. A walk through the galleries brings one close to the actual weapon used by the soldiers of the Kargil war. And the exhibits and the architecture of the museum portray a great deal about the war and the hardship endured by the soldiers. You can spend a couple of hours just exploring the various areas that the museum has to offer.

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