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39 GTC

Varanasi : Army Cantonment and the Ganga

The Indian Army has a large Cantonment area in the holy city of Varanasi (or Benaras, or Kashi). This Cantt., established in the last century, is the training Centre for the 3rd and 9th Gorkha Battalions and hence known in the army terms as 39 Gorkha Training Centre (39 G T C). it is a huge complex, most beautifully kept and efficiently managed. It houses all the facilities to train the new Gorkha Recruits arriving raw from Nepal and India. In 42 weeks of intensive and thorough training these recruits are turned into well disciplined and trained soldiers of the Indian Army. The process is supervised by the Battalion Training Commander under the Commandant of the 39 GTC.

3rd Gorkha Rifles was Lt Nawang’s Regiment. After being commissioned a an officer he reported to the 39 GTC and spent 21 days here before proceeding to join his unit, the 4th Battalion. He had spent some memorable time with officers here, played tennis, enjoyed in the Officers Mess and became familiar with the Gorkhas. We visited the 39 GTC as guests of the army, and were warmly received at the airport by Major Vinay Pant, the officiating Adjutant of the Centre. Every officer we met had some fine words for Lt Nawang. He had participated in the Dusherra celebrations which are rather important to the Gorkhas. Goats are sacrificed to the deity and all participate in the festivities. There is a firing range and various training areas which Lt Nawang had familiarised himself with.

We visited the centre, specially escorted by Col. J. S. Yadav, SM, who very enthusiastically showed us the facilities are areas with great pride. Commandant of the Centre, Brig. Anil Malhotra and the Deputy Commandant Col. Lalotra paid special visits to us.

The centre organised special religious ceremony on Asi Ghat, on the Ganga. The priest from the Centre performed a small puja, performed by Sonam and attended by many soldiers from Lt Nawang’s Regiment. After the brief ceremony we rowed in a small boat on the holy Ganga and immersed flowers in Lt Nawang’s memory. Senior Junior Commissioned Officers from Lt Nawang’s regiment, all hardened veterans, had wet eyes, specially Subedar Suresh Rana who was assigned to look after us for all the days. They all had met Lt Nawang during his stay and proudly stated that they will never forget their ‘sahib’.

In the Officers Mess the army has a tradition to maintain a Visitors Book which has a silver cover. Lt Nawang Kapadia was asked to write an entry in the same, which will be preserved for posterity. He wrote:

“ Proud to join and be part of the Gorkha Brigade”

He was equally proud to die for it, and become a part of its history.