Friday, February 15, 2019

A Drive from Jaisalmer to Longewala and Tanot Mata Mandir

Longewala checkpost
Longewala Checkpost

There might be very few people in India who are not aware of Longewala. Longewala holds a special place in Indian history. This is where the battle of Longewala took place and was one of the first major engagement between India and Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. JP Dutta's movie Border was based on this battle.

Longewala is a border village in the Thar desert in the western part of Rajasthan. It is approximately 100kms from Jaisalmer. We were staying in Hotel Victoria which was inside the Jaisalmer Fort. We started early by 8 in the morning to avoid scorching heat, after having a sumptuous complimentary breakfast. As soon as we left the city behind, the topography around started changing drastically. After 10kms or so, we were the only ones on the road and the road was just wide enough for one car.

Longewala road
The empty road to Longewala

Even though the road is not a busy one, I was surprised by the good condition of the road. There were no major pothole or broken patches. At certain points, it felt as if we are on a rollercoaster ride as the terrain was going up and down. There is an army check-post at the entrance of Longewala and they check the necessary car documents. A war memorial is constructed at the war site in memory and honour of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war.

Longewala war memorial
Longewala War Memorial Entry
Longewala and jaisalmer
Milestone showing the distance to Jaisalmer and Pakistan border from Longewala

The Pakistani tanks and jeeps which were destroyed or captured by India during the war are still lying here. Indian weapons are also on display which helped the Indian soldiers posted their win the war. The bunkers are still there and you can go inside and take a look.

Longewala bunker
One of the bunkers
Longewala war spots
The entire stretch where soldiers fought 1971 battle

Longewala soldiers hideout
The entire stretch where soldiers fought 1971 battle

You start to feel proud and patriotic by being in this place. The border is just 15 km from the war memorial and you can take prior permission from the officials to go there. I wish I knew about the process before I came here. I really wish to come here again and visit the border area as well.

Longewala captured tank
One of the destroyed Pakistani tank
Longewala captured jeep
One of the destroyed Pakistani Jeep

Longewala captured tank
One of the captured Pakistani tank
Longewala captured tank
One of the captured Pakistani Tank

After spending a few hours here, we continued towards Mata Tanot Mandir, which was approx. 50 km from Longewala. Legend says that during the time of the war when Pakistan was continuously firing cannon shells, Tanot Mata Mandir was the lone surviving structure in that area. It didn't get a single scratch. The temple was in a small area back then. It is now constructed into a big temple. The temple premises has displayed some of the shells which didn't detonate during the war.

Tanot Mata Mandir
Tanot Mata Mandir inside view.

Tanor Mata Mandir shells
Shells on display which did not detonate during the war

tanot mata mandir history
A brief history of Tanot Mata Mandir

Tanot Mata Mandir
Tanot Mata Mandir premises

Indian Flag
The Indian flag proudly waving at Longewala


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