Hall of Fame Museum in Ladakh – Remembering the Martyrs
The Hall of Fame Museum built and maintained by the Indian army in Leh is not just a war memorial but also a face to the rich culture and heritage of the region of Ladakh. The museum was built in the year 1986 to commemorate the sacrifices made by the Indian soldiers in various Indo-Pak wars. Along with many war photographs, armaments and a special section dedicated to the Siachen glacier camp, the museum also has many galleries depicting the food, traditions, customs, and history of Ladakh. With an annual footfall of over 1.5 lakh visitors, The Hall of Fame Museum has topped the list of 5 Indian museums that featured among the 25 best museums in Asia.
“By the time you get this letter, I ‘ll be observing you all from the sky enjoying the hospitality of Apsaras. I have no regrets. In fact, even if I become a human again, I ‘ll join the army and fight for my nation. If you can, please come and see where the Indian army fought for your tomorrow!” reads a hand written letter of Capt.Vijaynath Thapar addressed to his parents before he left for the war. He died fighting the Pakistani intruders in Kargil on 28th June 1999 and was posthumously awarded the Vir Chakra for his valor and sacrifice.
The Hall of Fame Museum is housed in a two storeyed building and divided into various galleries. One of the sections on the ground floor is dedicated to the traditions and customs of Ladakh. The exhibits provide insights into the food habits, attire, customs, flora, and fauna of Ladakh. Right next is a wall portraying the history of the Namgyal Dynasty that ruled the land of high passes. The next gallery dedicated to the Sino-Indian war of 1962 has huge walls lined with photographs taken during the war. Put on display in the center of the gallery are the weapons and ammunitions used in the war. Multiple booths in the gallery speak of the sacrifice and valor of brave souls who have been posthumously awarded the most prestigious awards in Indian army. The achievements of each awarded soldier are presented along with the pictures. This is where one can read about the sacrifice and commitment of the soldiers.
Wading into the next gallery, one can see exhibits depicting the life of soldiers in the impossible terrain of the Siachen glaciers. The snow mobiles, tents, apparel and pictures of day to day life of the soldier show the hardship they face while defending our nation in the challenging environs of Siachen. The top floor of the museum is named as Operation Vijay Gallery and houses the arms and ammunitions that have been seized from the Pakistani army during the Kargil war. Adorning the walls of the gallery are the portraits of brave soldiers who contributed to the victory in Kargil war.
The special costume used by the soldiers in Siachen Glacier Camp.
The museum has been extended beyond the concrete structure to accommodate kids play area designed in the form of a military training camp and a war memorial named Vijaya Sthal which has planks engraved with the names of many unsung heroes who have attained martyrdom in the war of 1947-48. Right behind the war memorial is the domestic airport of Leh named Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport. From the memorial, one can see the passenger flights take off and land on the airstrip against the barren hills of Ladakh.
The kids play area which is a new extension to the Hall of fame Museum
Vijay Sthal, The war memorial in The Hall of Fame Museum
The museum shop sells many local artisan products and other souvenirs at reasonable rates. It also has a photo booth where the visitors can get dressed in traditional Ladakhi attire and get photographed. Other amenities like rest rooms and coffee shops are available outside the museum. The pedestals outside the museum have some heavy armament like anti aircraft guns, tankers and missile launchers that have been decommissioned after extensive use in wars.
War armaments on display outside Hall of fame Museum
The Hall of Fame museum is located at a distance of 4 km along the Srinagar highway from the city of Leh. The museum is open from 9 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 7 pm. The entry fee is Rs 25 for Indians and Rs 50 for foreign nationals while the camera fee is set to Rs 50.