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KUMAON

THE LAND OF MIGHTY WARRlORS

altPANCHCHULI GLACIER

Panchchuli Glacier is a Himalayan Glacier in the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand. It is located in the easternmost part of Kumaon, bordering Tibet and Nepal. It is in the west and east of five peaks of Panchchuli on the Johar Valley and Dharma valley.

KUMAON HISTORY: 

CHAND DYNASTY OF KUMAON 

Creating of modern Kumaon is credited to the "Chand Dynasty" of "Pithoragarh". The magnificent temple complex of Jageshwar dedicated to Lord Shiva, with its cluster of a hundred and sixty-four temples, was built by the "Chand Rulers" over a span of two centuries.

The "Chand Kings" are from the Rajput ruling clan of Raghuvanshi ancestry, also referred to as "Raja" for men and 'Thourani" for women. 

Many temples built by "Chand Rulers", during the 11th and 12th century still exist today, this include the Baleshwar, Nagnath, Bhimeshwara Mahadev, Golu Devta, Bagnath and the Nanda Devi Temple in Almora (Which dates back to be 1000 years and dedicated to goddess Nanda Devi, the patron goddess of "Chand Dynasty", Goddess Nanda Devi is considered to be the "Destroyer of Evil" and the saviour of "Kumaon Kingdom").

The "Chand Dynasty' is also the one and only Hindu Dynasty which is credited for attacking and conquering "Tibet" thereby, giving free and uninterrupted access to Hindus for visiting one of the holiest site, "Kailash Mansarovar".

Due to the hardship in hills, today, most people from "Chand Dynasty" have left Pithoragarh / Baitadi for the safe and luxurious environment of Bhabhar / Mahendra Nagar and very few are still holding on to the traditions in hilly areas (People living in the plains are referred to as, Deshis).

KUMAON REGION

The Kumaon region consists of a large Himalayan tract + Terai and Bhabhar of plains. Till 1850 the Terai and Bhabhar regions were almost impenetrable forests left to wild animals but, after 1850 the numerous clearings attracted a large population from the hills. The rest of Kumaon is a maze of mountains (225 km in length and 65 km in breadth) rising to an elevation exceeding 5500 meters.

The word Kumaon is derived from the word "Kurmanchal" meaning land of the "Kurm" avatar (The tortoise incarnation of Lord Vishnu, preserver of the Hindu Trinity). According to the Hindu Mythology, Adi Kailash (also known as Chota Kailash) in the Kumaon region is one of the three residences of Lord Kailash (Shiva), Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesh, and Lord Kartikey.

The paintings discovered at the rock shelter at Lake Udyar points towards the existence of the Mesolithic period (middle stone age) settlements in the region.

It is believed that "Kols" were the original inhabitants of Kumaon. They were the people with Astro-Asiatic physical type.

The Kumaon region has always been important to the "Hindus" because it contains the traditional wellspring of the sacred Ganges and the Jamuna rivers and is the burial grounds of Pandavas, the five great heroes of the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. Consequently, Kumaon contains numerous ancient temples and for centuries, has been a frequent travel destination for Hindu pilgrims.

Marriage rituals between Kumaonis + Nepalis and Tibetans are still held and wholeheartedly accepted /supported in Kumaon Kingdom.

Even today, you will never see a Kumaoni begging (He will carry loads, Lift logs, do a lot of physical activities but, never beg)

Due to the single walking pathways in hilly areas, a dead body is tied to a single bamboo and carried for the funeral.

The traditional headgear, worn by men from Kumaon region is Black in color .

MARTIAL RACE

Kumaonis are famous for their valor, their courage is legendary and their honor indomitable. The Kumaonis were never subjugated by the powerful Muslim dynasties of Delhi and are considered as one of the most fierce martial races of India. Soldiering has been an important profession of the Kumaonis and the region has a long history of warfare. They often offered their martial services as mercenaries.

The best fighting battalion of the Nizam of Hyderabad was of Kumaonis and the best strike force of Subhas Chandra Bose's "Indian National Army" were Kumaonis. The 3rd Gorkha rifles on 24th April 1815, was started with most Kumaonis and was called "Kemoon Battalion".  

With the battle cry of "Jai Bhavani Aayo Kumaoni" and the motto of "Better to die with honor than to live like a coward", Kumaonis have Never ever run away from the war front, Never ever surrendered and Have always held on to the fort till the last man alive. Even today, Kumaon Regiment is the first regiment to go head-on into any war front, take control of the location which allows other regiments to safely enter and take charge.

The Kumaon regiment is the most decorated regiment of Indian Army (Awarded with the maximum number of Gallantry medals among all the Military regiments in Indian History, Including the First "Param Vir Chakra"). The regiment traces its origins to the 18th century and has fought in every major campaign, including the two world wars. 

Pre World War 1: Nagpore... Maheidpoor... Nowah... Central India... Burma 1885-87... China 1900... Afghanistan 1919

 

World War I: Neuve Chapalle, France & Flanders 1914-15... Suez Canal, Egypt 1915-16... Gaza, Jerusalem, Megiddo, Sharon, Neblus, Palestine 1917-18... Tigris 1916... Khan Bhagdadi, Mesopotamia 1915-18... Persia 1915-18... Suvla, Landing at Suvla, Scimitar Hill, Gallipoli 1915... Macedonia 1916-18... East Africa 1914-16... North West Frontier Province 1914-15, 1916-17

 

World War II: North Malaya, Slim River Malaya 1941-42... Kangaw, Bishenpur, Burma 1942-45...

 

Post Independence: Battle of Walong... Battle of Rezang La... Battle of Kumaon Hill... Battle of Maharajke... Battle of Chhamb... Operation Meghdoot... Operation Pawan... Kargil War...

 

When Kashmir Valley was invaded by Pakistan immediately after attainment of independence, Kumaon Regiment rose to the occasion and thwarted the large scale infiltration from across the border and battling all odds, the enemy was not allowed to capture Srinagar airfield at Badgam.

  • A total of 106 Jawans out of 111 men of a single company of Kumaon regiment laid down their lives while defending "Chushul" against Chinese attack in 1962. The 1962 war saw active participation of 6 and 13 Kumaon Regiment at Walong (Arunachal Pradesh) and Rezang-La in Ladakh.                                                                                                                                             
  • Battle of Walong - This was the only battle of the war in which an Indian unit attacked the Chinese, rather than defending. On 14 November 1962, 6 Kumaon single-handedly attacked and captured Chinese defenses in the Walong sector, Arunachal Pradesh without any artillery or aerial support.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 The Chinese retaliated with wave after wave of human bodies and artillery. The Kumaonis were vastly outnumbered by over 10 to 1, but held the ground and repulsed every attack until all their ammunition was exhausted, without any logistical support. They then engaged in hand-to-hand combat and fought to the last man and bullet.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Five times as many Chinese soldiers died in this battle.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           The Chinese succeeded in retaking the defenses when there was no Kumaoni left standing.                                                                                                                                                                                         

  • Battle of Rezang-La - The area assigned to 13 Kumaon was defended by three platoon positions, but the surrounding terrain isolated 13 Kumaon from the rest of the Regiment. The Indian artillery was located behind a hill feature, and could not train its guns on the target. Therefore, the Kumaon Regiment had to fight the battle without the protective comfort of the artillery. The Chinese suffered no such disadvantage and brought on heavy artillery fire on the 13 Kumaon’s Charlie Company.

    The Chinese attack, which was expected, came through a dry river bed. It was repulsed with heavy machine-gun fire by 13 Kumaon, The Chinese regrouped and attacked persistently with more reinforcements.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   114 soldiers out of a total of 120 laid down their lives, Of the 6 survivors, 5 were severely injured and captured by Chinese Army.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1700 Chinese soldiers were killed in the battle of Rezang-La.                                                                                                         

  •  These were matchless feats in the history of sacrifice of any regiment or military in the world.

The above incidents out of many other acts of bravery, prove the Kumaonis well known adage, motto, faith and belief, that  

  • It is better to die with honor than to live like a coward.
  • Never ever run away from the war front.
  • Never surrender to the enemy and
  • Fight till the last man alive.

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