The Indian Armed Forces are the largest volunteer army in the world and the pride of the country, protecting its 1.3 billion residents in the sea, on the mountains and in the air. The country’s military history dates back several millennia, with several armies fighting to govern Indian soil over the centuries. But the creation of the armed forces as we know it today can traced back to the East India Company, when a navy was first established to protect sea trade. Since then, Indian forces have played important roles in several conflicts, including the first and second World Wars and the India-Pakistan wars. There are six military museums in India today where you can find out more about India’s military history and get closer to the weapons and tools used in the field of war. ALSO READ: 8 most impressive World War cemeteries in India
Air Force Museum, New Delhi
The Indian Air Force Museum lies at the Palam Air Force Station, New Delhi. It was, for a long time, the only museum in the country dedicated to India’s air superiority. The indoor display includes photographs of air force and personnel in various uniforms. You can find photos of officers who fought bravely during the 1966 and 1971 India-Pakistan wars and the second World War before that. The hangar includes vintage aircraft, helicopter, jet engines, air craft guns and recovered enemy aircraft and army tanks. Outside the hangar, you can find the larger aircraft, including helicopters and jet aircraft like the Sukhoi Su7, MIG 21 and 23, and the MI-4 helicopter.
Indian War Memorial Museum, New Delhi
Located in the Naubat Khana, or Naqqar Khana of the Red Fort complex in New Delhi, the Indian War Memorial Museum is dedicated to the army’s actions under the British. The museum is spread across the first and second floors of the building that lies before the Diwan-e-Aam of the fort, and includes a stunning diorama of the first Battle of Paniput that resulted in the formation of the Mughal Empire. You can also find machine guns, revolvers, shells, swords, arrows and khukris on display, along with daggers, battle axes and chest armor, helmets and swords. Pistols, bullets, bomb fuses and gunpowder flasks can also be found here, all dating back to the First World War.
Jaisalmer War Museum, Rajasthan
Panaromic view of Laungewala Hall, Jaisalmer War Museum, Photograph Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
While the War Memorial Museum in the Red Fort remembers the valiant actions of the army during its time under the British, the war museum in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan commemorates the battles fought by independent India’s army. It is also the latest in this list, having opened in 2015. The museum covers the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971, especially the Longewala battle. Located in the Indian army station in Jaisalmer, the museum showcases the sacrifices of soldiers over the course of these conflicts. The museum includes displays of the famous Hunter aircraft that saw action during the Longewala battle, destroying Pakistani tanks. CHECK OUT: Do you know whose rifle stands on the Amar Jawan Memorial in New Delhi?
Naval Aviation Museum, Goa
Sea Harrier at the Naval Aviation Museum, Goa, India, Photograph Courtesy: Trinidade/Wikimedia Commons
One of two museums in India dedicated to the navy, the Naval Aviation Museum in sunny Goa opened only in 1998, nearly 20 years ago. It is said to be the only naval aviation museum in Asia, displaying all the aircraft that the Indian Navy used in its decorated history. The museum’s interior is designed to look like the INS Viraat aircraft carrier, and includes galleries showcasing naval equipment, photographs of major battles, a plaque remembering those who sacrificed their lives for the country, and a simulation room. Located near Bogmala, the museum overlooks scenic Bogmala beach and includes several massive aircraft, including the HAL HT-2, Westland Sea King and HAL Chetak.
Samudrika Naval Marine Museum, Andaman and Nicobar
Jetties parked at Port Blair – Andaman and Nicobar Islands
Lying in Port Blair at the south of the Andaman Islands, the Samudrika Naval Marine Museum is run by the Indian Navy but its exhibits are not of the military kind. Instead, it showcases the tribal communities of Andaman and Nicobar and the diverse ecosystem that you can find on the islands and within the ocean waters off the island coasts. Just outside the museum, you can find the skeleton of a small blue whale that washed ashore. Inside, you can find installations detailing the tribal history of the region and the plants and animals you can find on land and underwater. There is also a small aquarium showcasing live fishes, shells and corals. NOW READ: Five places associated with Indian freedom struggle
Cavalry Tank Museum, Maharashtra
In the city of Ahmednagar, Maharashtra lies the first museum dedicated to cavalry tanks in Asia. One of the lesser-known military museums in India, the Cavalry Tank Museum likes in the Armored Corps Center and School and is the place to go if you want to learn more about India’s surprisingly rich history of military tanks. The tanks on display include the British Mark I, one of the first tanks that wrecked destruction in the First World War. You can also find a model of the same class of armored cars used by British General Dwyer in the bloody Jallianwala Bagh massacre. Other notable additions here include the Stuart tank, which was used by the Indian Army to scale the Zoji La pass in 1948.