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Major Padmapani Acharya: A portrait of valour

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acharyaBy Ila Garg

Kargil War Heroes – Part 5

For soldiers, there seems to be nothing more essential than the nation. For them, celebration means victory in a war. Their whole life is centered on the nation. June 21, 1999 was Major Padmapani Acharya’s 30th birthday, an occasion to be cherished. He spoke to his family members over the phone on that day as he was posted at Kargil. If only he knew that it would be his last phone call.

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A file photo of Major Acharya’s wife Charulatha, mother Vimla and daughter Aparajita

Just a week after his birthday, on June 28, 1999, Indian Army’s 2nd Rajputana Rifles was assigned the task to take possession of the enemy bunker at the Tololing Top as it was a dominant position overlooking the Srinagar – Leh Highway (NH 1D). The success of the battalion hinged on the early capture of this position. The Battle of Tololing was thus, one of the pivotal battles in the Kargil War.

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His parents – Air Force Wing Commander (retd.) Jagannath Acharya and his wife Vimala Acharya

There was a large number of causalities as a result of this attack but this didn’t stop Major Acharya from performing his duty for the nation. Unmindful of his own safety, Major Padmapani Acharya took the reserve platoon and led it through raining bombardment. His men were heavily injured but he continued to encourage them and charged at the enemy with the remaining soldiers. He crawled up to the bunker and lobbed grenades. When he was severely injured and unable to move, he ordered his men to leave him and attack the enemy while he continued to fire. After a night long fierce hand-to-hand battle, the battalion succeeded in recapturing Tololing Top thus turning the course of Kargil War. It was only after the mission was accomplished that the Major closed his eyes.

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The last letter that Major Acharya wrote to his father

His family got a call from Army, saying, “Your son fought bravely. He created history but is no more.” Major’s wife, Mrs. Charulatha Acharya was six months pregnant when her husband passed away. It is impossible to feel the pain that she would have undergone then. One can not even try to relate to it, it is beyond imagination. His father Jagannath Acharya, a retired Wing Commander remembers him with pain in his heart. His mother reveals that the Major had done a course in Hotel Management but his passion for Army won at last, “As a mother, I am definitely sad and hurt but as a patriot, I am proud of my son. He lives forever, whereas I will not. He made me promise that I would not cry when he left for the front.”

In his last letter dated 19 June 1999 to his father, Major Padmapani Acharya said “…combat is an honour of a lifetime and I would not think of anything less. What better way to serve the nation”.

He is a true inspiration and his daughter Aparajita (now in class 11th) hopes to follow his footsteps someday. “Now that the Army has opened its gates for women. I would love to see my granddaughter join the Army,” says Mr. Jagannath Acharya, proudly. Mrs. Charulata Acharya has faced it strongly and has nurtured their daughter all alone. The journey wasn’t easy but being a soldier’s wife gives that strength, I suppose. Thus, even after the supreme sacrifice of Major Padmapani Acharya, the family continues to be driven by their tradition of serving in Indian Armed Forces. The nation can do its bit by remembering him in their prayers and continue to keep him alive in their hearts.

More in this segment:

Kargil War Heroes – Part 1
Kargil War Heroes – Part 2
Kargil War Heroes – Part 3
Kargil War Heroes – Part 4
Kargil War Heroes – Part 6
Kargil War Heroes – Part 7
Kargil War Heroes – Part 8
Kargil War Heroes – Part 9
Kargil War Heroes – Part 10
Kargil War Heroes – Part 11
Kargil War Heroes – Part 12
Kargil War Heroes – Part 13
Kargil War Heroes – Part 14
Kargil War Heroes – Part 15

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This Summer Visit 5 Most Incredible Places In Leh With Your Family And Friends

Check out a Leh Ladakh package for couple

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5 Incredible Must Visited Places In Leh
5 Incredible Must Visited Places In Leh, Flickr

Leh is a Himalayan village that expands over 45100 sq.kms. in the Jammu & Kashmir state of India. The expanse of the village is covered by three parallel mountain ranges, namely the Zanskar, Karakoram and the Ladakh ranges. Between these ranges flow three prominent rivers – Indus, Shyok and Zanskar. The valleys of these rivers are where the communities of Leh live in. Once a capital that housed the Royal family of Ladakh, Leh is now one of the prominent tourist attractions in India. It lies around 3500 metres above sea level, with a climate that is often paralleled to that of a cold desert. Being mountainous with the snow covered stretches, it is the most beautiful summer vacation spot in the North of India. If planning a vacation with your partner, you can check out a Leh Ladakh package for couple and enjoy a great trip without any hassle.

The Old Town of Leh was added to the World Monuments Fund’s list of the 100 most endangered sites due to climate change. The roads to Leh get blocked multiple times every year by snowfalls.

Snow-capped peaks and flowery valleys are the natural beauty of Leh, while colourful flags around the place lure in the most adventurous of travellers from all around the world. A trip to Leh is truly a getaway from the hustle and bustle of cities and into the wild isolation and peace that these mountain tops offer. It is perfect for those who are on a soul-searching journey or simply looking for a break from everyday life. Here are five destinations in Leh which you shouldn’t miss out when you are vacationing there. They account for the whole unique experience of Leh and Ladakh.

Khardung-la pass
Khardung-la pass, Flickr

 

  • Khardung-la Pass

 

Leh is snow covered during most parts of the year. It lies in the shadows of the great Himalayas. The Khardung La pass in Leh is one of the highest motorable roads in the world. It offers mesmerising views of the whole Leh Valley from a height of around 5359 metres above sea level. Surrounded by mountains, the road was opened in 1988 and is maintained by the Indian Army. The Kahrdung La pass is a gateway to two of the magnificent valleys in Leh – the Nubra Valley and the Shyok Valley. It is also a gateway to the famous Siachen glacier, one of the coldest places on Earth where entry is restricted to people due to its strategic prominence. It attracts tourists for the dangerous and exciting drive the pass offers. The most adrenaline driven of the riders go all the way up to the pass on motorcycles. The pass is mostly covered in snow, and it is not easy to be traversed at every time of the year.

Bike rider at Pangong lake
Bike rider at Pangong lake, pixabay

 

  • Pangong Lake

Pangong-Tso is the Tibetan name for the high grassland lake. Situated at an altitude of 4350 metres, it is 134 km long lake that extends to over both Indian and Tibetan Chinese lands. During winters it freezes completely, despite being saline in nature. Thus, the best time to visit the lake is during the summer when the waters are cool but flowing. It is home and breeding ground to a number of migratory birds such as the Bar-headed goose and the Black-necked cranes, seagulls and Brahmini ducks.

Pangong is an endorheic lake. It means that the lake does not flow out into rivers or oceans. Rather it forms a vast closed in water body which spreads over around 600 sq.kms. The lake is situated at a five-hour distance from the town of Leh. The journey itself can be a mesmerising experience for the travellers. You drive over the Chang La pass to get the first view of the shining waters that seem to stretch out limitlessly before you. It is a paradise for photography lovers. One of the most alluring things about the Pangong Lake is that it keeps changing colours. Adventure lovers also have the option to camp overnight along the shores of the lake.

Magnetic hills
Magnetic hills, flickr

 

  • Magnetic Hill

 

The Magnetic Hill or the Gravity Hill is located at a distance of 30 km distance from Leh.  It is a stretch of road in the Leh-Kargil Highway which is known to have magnetic properties that can pull cars uphill. However, in reality, the effect is an optical illusion. Stationary vehicles get pulled up in this part of the Highway. Warning boards placed along the road tell you what to do once you get closer to the road. The vehicle should be put in a neutral gear as you stop by the hill and then on you can move only at a speed of 20km per hour.

The hill lies at an altitude of 14,000 feet from the sea level in the Trans-Himalayan region. The river Sindhu flows along the Eastern side of the Magnetic Hills. The view thus provided by nature is nothing short of spell-binding.

Nubra Valley
Nubra Valley, flickr

 

  • Nubra Valley

 

The Nubra Valley in Leh is formed at the meeting point of the Shyok and the Siachen river. It separates Ladakh and the Karakoram ranges and lies at an altitude of 10,000 ft above sea level. The valley can be accessed through the Khardung La pass. The region is highly protected and requires special permits to be visited, for both Indian and Foreign nationals. The town of Diskit in Nubra Valley has 32 metres high Maitreya Buddha statue. The Diskit Buddhist monastery was built in AD 1420. The remote village of Hundar in Nubra Valley is the geographical border of India. It is restricted to tourists since 2010. Hundar is known for the dunes amidst the Himalayan ranges, where camels are seen to graze. The extremes of nature thus meet in the Nubra Valley.

Kargil
Kargil, flickr

 

  • Kargil

 

A historically significant place, Kargil is a land with great stories to tell, prominent of which is the Kargil war of 1999. It also happens to be the second largest town in Leh. The Central Asian Museum of Leh is located in the Kargil Valley. It offers a closer look at the history of the land, both ancient and modern. From the Museum, you can also enjoy the scenic beauty of the deep river valley of Kargil.

Also read: Manali-Leh reopens for motorists

Now that you are done reading, take your loved one on a journey to this magical land. Get a Leh Ladakh package for couple today and start packing! (IANS)