We have read about the umpteen battles, wars and fights that our country’s armed forces has been a part of over the course of history. The bravery of the defense forces of India for the safety of the country and its citizens has always inspired all of us, and is imbued in our minds.
If you are fascinated by India's military heritage, you must pay a visit to a couple of military museums in India. These museums are treasure houses of weapons, aircraft, vehicles and other instruments used by the Indian military over the years to protect the freedom of our country.
Five Indian military museums you must visit
1. Jaisalmer War Museum
The Jaisalmer War Museum is an Indian Army museum that was originally conceived by Lieutenant General Bobby Mathews. It was constructed by the Desert Corps of the Indian Army. After completion, it was dedicated to the Nation by Lieutenant General Ashok Singh, PVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, General Officer Commanding-In-Chief, Southern Command, Indian Army, on August 24, 2015.
In the museum, one finds on display an array of war exhibits, which include vehicles and equipment captured by the Army during the course of operations in the year 1965 and 1971. This army heritage museum is also known popularly as JWM. It has an honour wall engraved with names of the Param Vir Chakra and Maha Vir Chakra award winners. It also houses an Indian Army Hall, Laungewala Hall, an audio-visual room, a souvenir shop and a cafeteria. There is also a Hunter Aircraft of the Indian Air Force on display, which destroyed many enemy tank columns during the Battle of Laungewala.
This museum is dedicated to the contribution, sacrifices and bravery of the Indian army soldiers. Laungewala hall houses a mural, which depicts the sacrifice that led to victory in the battle of Laungewala.
Location: Jaisalmer Jodhpur Highway, 10 km from Jaisalmer
Timings: 9 am to 6 pm
Entry fee: Rs 30
2. Artillery Museum, Nashik
The Artillery Museum was opened to the public in January 2005 by the Regiment of Artillery Association. It is considered to be one of Asia’s biggest museums, and is home to vintage and modern army weapons, namely the Bofors gun. It is also home to army battle tanks, radar systems and aircraft.
Its main attractions are the AOP aircraft and MIG- 23UM, along with historic pieces of artillery such as a wooden catapult from 400 B.C, pot-de-fet artillery (primitive iron cannons first used in Europe), and a Mughal brass cannon, from the first battle of Panipat. There is also artillery used by the British East India Company on display in this army heritage museum. There is also a self-propelled gun from World War II known as Saxton used by the British on display here. The modern weapons showcased at the museum include those from the wars in recent times namely the T-59Tank from the Indo-Pak war of 1971, and the Krishna MKII aircraft.
The museum premises were formerly used by the British-Indian forces during World War II. The museum is spread across two floors and showcases military agreements, paintings and photographs of historical events.
Location: Artillery Centre, Gandhi Nagar Airport Area, Deolali Gaon, Nashik, Maharashtra
Timings: 10:30 am onwards, closed on Thursdays
Entry fees: Rs 25
3. Naval Aviation Museum, Goa
This is the only Naval Aviation Museum in Asia. It was inaugurated in the year 1998 with a collection of only eight aircrafts. There is an open-air gallery at the Naval Aviation Museum where most of the aircrafts that the Indian Navy has used are on display. The interiors of the museum are designed like the naval aircraft carrier INS Viraat, and showcase naval equipment, details about prominent battles, a simulation room, and most importantly, the granite plaque which pays tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for the country.
Chronicling the transformation of naval aviation over the years, the museum’s curated facilities include ‘Adhvan’- a timeline history of naval aviation, ‘Adwitiya’, a glimpse of air stations and squadrons of India, ‘Sashakt’- a peek into aviation support units and ‘Vimaan’- an elegant collection of contemporary and vintage aircraft models. The museum takes its visitors on a journey of naval aviation with enhanced features and newly upgraded facilities. One cannot miss the wall dedicated to Goa’s liberation. The museum recently got refurbished with upgraded displays and facilities and also has ramps to assist differently-abled people. There is also a Glass Cockpit Café, a souvenir shop and a dedicated parking space.
Location: Bogmalo Road, Vasco da Gama, Goa
Timings: 10 am to 5 pm, closed on Mondays
Entry fees: Rs 20
4. Army Heritage Museum, Shimla
Away from hustle and bustle of primary tourist spots, there is a place called Annadale glade, the largest stretch of flat land in Shimla. Here, the first Durand Football Tournament was held in the year 1888 and is now used as a helipad by the Army Heritage Museum. This army museum is located at an altitude of 6117 feet above sea level and is home to a collection of modern and traditional weapons, uniforms, flags, armoury, and so much more.
On glorious display here is the vast and rich history of the Indian army, with collectables dating back to 2500 B.C., as well as mementoes from the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and the Kargil war. There is a small cactus museum in the vicinity which should not be missed at all.
Tourists from all over the world prefer to visit this museum at least once in their lifetime to look at past Indian warriors. There is also a parade ground and a greenhouse for nature lovers. The best time to visit Annandale Army Heritage Museum is throughout the year as the weather is pleasant. One can avoid visiting during the rainy season.
Location: Annadale Rd, Annadale, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
Timings: 10 am to 2 pm; 3 pm to 5 pm, closed on Mondays
Entry fees: Free
5. The Airforce Museum, Delhi
This army heritage museum is located at Palam Air Force Station, Delhi. It exhibits the history of the Indian Air Force. All displays here are detailed in nature and tell the story from the beginning of the Indian Air Force, when it flew for the Royal Flying Corps, an air arm of the British Army during the first World War, up to the time of the Kargil war. There is an indoor gallery at this place that features models of all aircraft, photographs of all the leaders of the airstaff, all the air personnel killed in battle or in military operations, and uniforms.
The open-air galleries display heavy weapons, military vehicles, and aircraft. One can find all equipment used by the IAF such as real war prizes, radio detection, ranging equipment, and captured military vehicles. This army heritage museum is divided into two sections - the annexe and the main hangar. In the annexe, you will see the history of the Indian Air Force laid out in a pictorial format, whereas the hangar section of the museum showcases innumerable vintage aircraft, helicopters, jet engines, aircraft guns, army tanks and recovered enemy aircraft.
Location: Palam, New Delhi
Timings: 10 am to 5 pm, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays
Entry fees: Rs 20