Army concludes 500 kilometers Betwa to Narmada Chindits Trail Expedition at Dongar Gaon
Army concluded the 500 kilometers Chindits Trail Expedition near Narsinghpur on March 9, 2018. The expedition traversed nearly 500 kilometers across the Vindhya Ranges between Betwa and Ken Rivers and culminated on March 9, 2018 on the banks of Narmada River. The expedition was flagged off by Lieutenant General DR Soni, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Indian Army's Southern Command in the presence of Lieutenant General IS Ghuman, General Officer Commanding Sudarshan Chakra Corps on February 16, 2018 at Babina. The expedition was conducted in four phases, each undertaken by a team of two Officers, two Junior Commissioned Officers and twenty Other Ranks, who covered approximately 125 kilometers in five days during each phase. The Chindits Trail seeks to commemorate 75 years of training carried out by the Chindits in Central India in preparation for their operations in Burma during Second World War.
The expedition started from Deogarh on February 17, close to the historic Chanderi Fort, moved through the dense jungle of Malthone and crossed the Dhasan River, a tributary of Betwa River. Thereafter, it moved further East towards the Ken River, along the Northern fringes of the Vindhyas. As the temperatures rose during the day, part of the distance was done by night, affording cover and simulating the infiltration operations carried out by the Chindits. As they crossed the Panna Tiger Reserve on the steep escarpment overlooking the Ken River, a tributary of Yamuna with the mounting heat in the day, the mettle of the men was severely tested, adding to their grit and determination. Moving along Southern fringes of Vindhyas towards Narmada River, the team reached the famous Singorgarh Fort, near Singrampur, where Rani Durgawati had waged an epic battle with the Mughal forces in 1564. Drawing inspiration, the final phase of the execution moved through the Rani Durgawati and Nauradehi Wild Life Sanctuaries and climbed the highest point in the Vindhyas, Mount Sadbhavna (Goodwill) at 752 meters, culminating on the banks of Narmada.
During the course of 21 days, the expedition went across the Lalitpur District of Uttar Pradesh and Tikamgarh, Chattarpur, Panna, Damoh and Jabalpur districts of Madhya Pradesh. Carrying individual battle loads of 25-30 Kgs, the expedition was entirely self-contained and learnt to survive off-the-land using local resources. Being out of the range of cellular networks for most parts, the expedition was completely on its own and was fully prepared to tackle any contingency and navigation was done using maps and compass only. Spreading the message of national integration, the expedition conducted eight medical camps in remote and isolated hamlets and provided free medicine and advice to 1020 locals including 470 women. The gesture was highly appreciated and created tremendous goodwill amongst the local tribal population. In another effort, clothes were collected voluntarily from troops and their families and donated in charity to the needy, after thorough cleaning and sanitization.
The Expedition was conducted to relive the experience of the Chindits during their training in these parts and imbibe their indomitable spirit, which remains equally relevant today. The troops drawn in from different battalions and from different parts of the country, developed strong camaraderie and spirit of adventure through the innovative training, best summed up by the Chindits motto, "The boldest measures are the safest".
The Chindits Force was raised in 1942 by the legendary General Charles Orde Wingate. Four of the present day Indian Army Gurkha battalions formed part of the Chindits Force and they still adorn their uniforms with the 'Chinthe' insignia, the dragon with a lion's head, the protector of pagodas in Burmese mythology. Wingate pronounced 'Chinthe' as 'Chindits' and ever since they were known as the Chindits.
- Gargi Malik Sinha