Friday, October 8, 2010

O P Baba ki Jai

I was at Siachen Base camp in 2006. Just for a couple of days, as a visitor.

We reached the base camp in the evening. It was freezing. I had heard a lot of stories about how people fell ill due to rarefied oxygen levels in the air. Before any such thing happened, it would be good sense to explore the surroundings, we thought. There was a wall of black ice for practicing vertical hikes. We decided to check that out. How can you have black ice, it must be mixed with impurities hence called black, I thought.

We went and saw the Nubra River and next to it was the wall of black ice. Black water dripping from it. These are places of extreme inhospitable life conditions and it takes much more than just will power to survive here. Faith helps big time. There is a temple named after the soldier Om Prakash who single handedly defended his post from the enemies in late 1980s. He was sent on a patrol on the Malun Post in Bila Complex of the Northern Glacier.The Indian Army has been guarding the Siachen Glacier from atop the Saltoro ridge since April 1984 after Operation Meghdoot. The troops treat OP Baba as a senior officer and a report is presented at his shrine on induction and accomplishment of any mission. As the whole unit was called back to the headquarters while Om Prakash fought, no one really know what happened to him later on. His blessings are sought after and they say he appears in dreams forewarning the soldiers of any impending danger.

The memorial is just a few meters from the snout of the Glacier where it melts and becomes the Nubra river. Nubra valley is named after this river. Faith of the soldiers is so strong that they give up tobacco, alcohol and non-vegetarian food during their three month posting there. Not that they would feel like eating it anyway under those weather conditions but they consciously vow to do so as well.

Legends and Folklore are a part and parcel of mountain life. More difficult the terrain, more elaborate and celebrated the legends are. You will find them everywhere, may it be Ladakh or Arunachal Pradesh. Some may just want to laugh it off or some may find it to be an added expense in terms of time, energy and money but I feel whatever can buy you faith can never be measured in terms of any tangibles.

Aren't we all looking for the 'O P Baba' of our lives so that we can take that extra step when life gets harsher than we thought it to be? It takes a bit more than just our own will to survive the unforgiving environment around us. It is the faith in the unexplained and the never seen. That is the law of survival. It takes care of you until your time has come.

OP Baba Memorial Shrine
Glacier snout where Nubra river originates from


4 comments:

  1. Vandu, many times I feel, am not doing anything for my country except sitting here and feeling proud of my brave soldiers!
    The last para is very well written. I feel life tests us many times...and I hope at least there am not failing...
    Thanks a ton for sharing this..
    :)

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  2. Am glad u liked it.
    I feel everybody does things for their country in their own way. Not everybody can go and fight wars....someone grows rice so the warring soldiers fight on a full stomach....someone weaves so they get warmer clothes. people like you and me write and propagate their good work :)

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  3. Very well written article. Coming from an army background I have heard stries about the conditions but have never been to this place.

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  4. Ah a fauji kid...I connect with you already. thanks for visiting the blog. i saw urs....am going thru it...in fact the pic of the snow leopard reminds me so much of my pet cat jojo whom we lost the day before. can read about her at
    http://vandananatu.blogspot.com/2010/11/blog-post_27.html

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