"We all love our country. And we respect our army."
This is what I have always believed. But I was wrong. Just being born in India and believing this does not make us feel the same way. I never knew the difference between believing and feeling till I traveled along the borders. It had to be changed and it surely got changed.
2 years back, it was a random thought. I saw some pictures, read few blogs and just wanted to go to Leh, the capital of the district of Ladakh. Way to Leh from Manali is one of the toughest motorable roads in the world. (Sometimes we forget if there is any road!!!). For me, it was just for fun and for some nice memorable days. But it turned out to be far more than that.
One aspect which I could never even think of became such an important part of our journey that it is inseparable, that it could not be given just a paragraph in journey to Leh... It is a journey in itself. Journey to the oneness of this country. Journey to various divides, problems, conditions, religions, people and journey to understanding the great forces which safeguard us in unimaginably tough conditions. Conditions are tough because of two reasons:
1. High altitude, snowy terrains and unpredictable natural conditions.
2. It shares borders with two neighboring countries- China in East and Pakistan in North.
The mountains that seem amazingly beautiful, the roads that seem so peaceful and the waters that create a sense of vibrancy, all look horrible at some point or the other.
BRO- Building and maintaining tough routes
Whenever we thought that this is tough, this cant be done or we cant find even an insect over here, we used to see military camps.
Military has made very good transit camps enroute to Leh. All through the day we can find military trucks supplying essentials like food, clothing, petrol, medicines and much more to its soldiers.
We know this is the toughest route and when it opens in May-June, its raw. totally thrashed by water streams and rocks. In these conditions, Border Road Organisation works wholeheartedly to build and maintain these extremely tough and rough terrains.
To safeguard our mountains and our borders from any crossborder attack army maintains these roads, puts transit camps, provides all kinds of help to tourists and local people with an extraordinary zeal.
In conditions, where we lost all our patience on a kind of luxury trip, our soldiers fight for us, in conditions that can not be imagined without experience.
In such conditions, we realize the true worth of our army officers and jawans, who guard the border at a very high altitude, including the world's highest battlefield in the Siachen glacier. Temperatures in the Ladakh region dip to minus 30 to 40 degrees in peak winter. Still the army stands strong that too with all discipline, patience, vigour and courage.
While returning, we came through Leh-Srinagar-Jammu-Pathankot-Delhi route. Kashmir is truly a paradise but somewhere inside, it creates a sense of discomfirt. The valley is still living in a world of its own and dislikes to be intruded even by the tourists from the other parts of the country. There, in those conditions, stood our army, making us feel safe and secure. Each time I saw a soldier or an army truck or a transit camp, I was filled with pride and a feeling of being safe. And the feeling... Gosh! that feeling... can't be explained.. It can only be lived. And one must live if we want to love our country and respect our armed forces.