The only structure in the world to be built by victors to honour the courage of their foes, the war memorial is unique in nature.
In October 1814, 3,500 soldiers under the command of major general Robert Rolle Gillespie of the British army's Third Infantry Division were assigned to annexe the erstwhile Kalinga Fort, now known as Nalapani Fort.
However, the fort was courageously defended by Balbhadra Singh Thapa and his 600 men, even under heavy artillery firing. Reportedly, the soldiers' families including women and children took turns in the fight to keep the invaders out. Till their last breath, the Gorkha families kept their attackers at bay for six weeks, despite running out of food and water supplies to sustain themselves.
|One of the Commanders of the Gorkha troops during the Wars|
But on hindsight, impressed by the courage of the valiant Gorkhas, the British built a memorial on the banks of Rispana river to immortalize the valour of their foes.
Two centuries later, more than 2,000 people came together at the same spot on southern fringes of the state capital for the bicentennial anniversary of the famous Anglo-Gorkha War (1814-1816). The assembled crowd included personnel from Gorkha regiments across the Army, along with their families. The hill state is known to have the third largest Gorkha population in the country, after Sikkim and Darjeeling.
The 40th Gorkhali Mela being held near Kalinga Fort was part of the celebrations organized by Balbahdra Khalang Vikas Samiti.
"We come here every year to pay homage to Balbhadra and pray at the Chandrani Mandir. But this year, the bicentennial makes it special," said Lt Col (retd) CB Thapa.
Doiwala MLA Heera Singh Bisht, state forest minister Dinesh Agarwal, MP Manorama Sharma and Sarika Pradha, women president of Gorkhali Sudhar Sabha, were among the guests of honour at the event.