5 Must-Visit Military Museums In India

Get an inside view of the historical and the not-so-distant past of the Indian armed forces through the museums they maintain
The Army Heritage Museum, Annadale, Shimla. Credit Wikimedia Commons / 502hsuya
The Army Heritage Museum, Annadale, Shimla. Credit Wikimedia Commons / 502hsuya

We are all aware of the bravery presented and the duties dedicated by the defence personnel toward the safety of the country and its citizens. The army, navy, and air force are also the preservers of the history of the defence of India. Here are five museums devoted to, and created and maintained by the three arms of the defence forces.  

Army Heritage Museum, Shimla, Himachal Pradesh 

The Annadale glade is the largest stretch of flat land in Shimla. Away from the hustle and bustle of the primary tourist spots, Annadale retains its forest-frilled charm. The Durand Football Tournament was first held here in 1888, and now it is used as a helipad by the Army Heritage Museum. The museum is at an altitude of 6,117 feet above sea level and is home to a collection of modern and traditional weapons, uniforms, flags, armoury, etc. The vast and rich history of the Indian army is on glorious display here, with collectibles dating back to 2,500 BC, as well as mementoes from the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and the Kargil war. In the vicinity is a small Cactus Museum, which should not be missed out on. 

Jaisalmer War Museum, Thaiyat, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

In the heart of Rajasthan, located 10 km from Jaisalmer, on the Jaisalmer-Jodhpur highway, is the Jaisalmer War Museum. Dedicated to the contribution, sacrifice, and bravery of the Indian army soldiers, you will see the many war trophies and vintage equipment on display. This includes battle tanks and other military vehicles. The pride of place is occupied by the mural, which depicts the sacrifice which led to victory in the Batter of Laungewala, and the 106 mm Recoilless Gun (a main anti-tank weapon) employed to destroy several enemy tanks. The museum is divided into sections, the Laungewala Hall and the Indian Army Hall, which displays the evolution of the Indian army since the 19th century. It is dedicated to the wars of 1948, 1962, 1965, and the 1999 Kargil war. Spend some time reflecting on the names and sacrifices of the Param Vir Chakra and Mahavir Chakra awardees, memorialised on the Honour Wall. Don&rsquot miss the Light and Sound Show, presented using state-of-the-art audio-visual technology. You can also take a seat for the movie screening of the Battle of Laungewala. The museum is open all week except on national holidays.

Artillery Museum, Deolali, Nashik, Maharashtra

Located in the Gandhi Nagar Airport Area, the Artillery Museum was opened to the public in January 2005 by The Regiment of Artillery Association (RAA). It is Asia's biggest such museum and home to vintage and modern weapons, including the Bofors gun, 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. They shot large heavy arrows, instead of cannon balls), and a Mughal brass cannon, from the First Battle of Panipat, fought between Babur and Ibrahim Lodi. Also, on display is the artillery used by the Maratha army, Tipu Sultan&rsquos 102-barrel gun, Rattanban, and artillery used by the British East India Company. There is also the Sexton, a self-propelled gun from World War II. The modern weapons showcased at the museum include those from wars in recent memory, The T-59 tank from the Indo-Pak war of 1971, and the Krishna MK II aircraft. The museum&rsquos premises were formerly used by the British-Indian forces during World War II. Spread across two floors, the museum also showcases military agreements and paintings and photographs of historical events. The museum is closed on Thursdays and public holidays. 

Naval Aviation Museum, Dabolim Airport, Bogmalo Road, Goa

The only naval aviation museum in Asia, it was inaugurated in 1998, with a collection of only eight aircraft. At the Naval Aviation Museum, on display in the open-air gallery, are most of the aircraft that the Indian navy has used. The interiors have been 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. Do not miss the wall dedicated to Goa&rsquos liberation. Recently refurbished with upgraded displays and facilities, the museum now has ramps to assist the differently-abled. There is even a selfie corner and Kshitij, the viewing gallery. The museum remains closed on Mondays and national holidays. 

Airforce Museum, Palam, Delhi

Away from Delhi city centre, the Air Force Museum at Palam Air Force Station exhibits the history of the Indian air force. All displays 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. The indoor gallery features models of all aircraft, photographs of all the leaders of Air Staff, all IAF personnel killed in battle or in military operations, and uniforms. The open-air galleries display heavy weapons, military vehicles, and, of course, aircraft. All equipment used by the IAF has also been showcased, such as real war prizes, radio detection, and ranging equipment, and captured military vehicles. If you happen to get the chance to visit the museum on the Annual Air Force Day, you will be treated to views of vintage aircraft, which are usually off-limits to civilians. 

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