Himachal State War Museum that was being brought up in Dharamsala is first of its kind in the region and a befitting tribute to the martyrs, servicemen and ex-servicemen from the state, especially from Kangra district. Beautiful wooden outer structure that has been designed on the theme of old Himachali architecture by the PWD stands majestically and attracts attention of visitors in the martyrs park of Dharamsala. Though inaugurated by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh last week, the museum is yet to be thrown open for public. Inquiries revealed that it may take another couple of months or even a year to complete the furnishings before it could be thrown open for public. Only the first floor of the museum has been furnished with busts of war heroes from Himachal Pradesh and Kangra district, models of gallantry medals like Victoria Cross that were awarded during British India, Param Vir Chakras, Vir Chakra and other gallantry awards. The first floor of the museum also has the photos of gallantry award winners from the state.
Manoj Rana, deputy director, Sainik Welfare Department of Himachal, under whose guidance the museum was being furnished, said a request has been forwarded to Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force to provide war artefacts for the museum. “We are waiting for the HPT-32 plane that would be provided by the Indian Air force. The plane, likely to arrive in the next two to three days, would be hung from the roof of the museum. The furnishing will be a continuous process that would be carried out over a period of time, he said. Initial budget for the project was about Rs 9 crores. Chief Engineer PWD, SK Ganju, said that the building would be completed in a budget of just about Rs 5 crores.
Like other monuments in the state, the maintenance of the structure was an issue. Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare Department, said that the government had already initiated the process of creating posts for the staff to be posted at the museum. However, it was yet to be decided as to which department would take over the maintenance and upkeep of the museum. Manoj Rana said there are 60,000 ex-servicemen and an equal number of servicemen from Kangra district in Indian armed forces. This was the highest number for any district in the country. On the whole, Himachal state has about 1,20,000 servicemen and an equal number of ex-servicemen in Indian armed forces. Contributions of residents of Himachal Pradesh in Indian armed forces can be gauged from the fact that soldiers from the state had been honoured with over 1,100 gallantry awards. Kangra district alone has 409 gallantry award winners, including two Param Vir Chakra awardees, again the highest for any district. The first Param Vir Chakra awardee in Independent India, Major Som Nath Sharma and Kargil war hero, Capt Vikram Batra were from Kangra district. Rana said the museum would serve as an inspiration for the younger generation of the state to join the Indian armed forces and keep up the tradition of the state for serving in defence of the country.