I was reading a travelogue of Malayalam writer M K Ramachandran, “Devabhoomiyiloode” and I saw a story about a Shrine which is located in Nathu La pass. I found the story of the shrine very interesting, so I took to write about it. The shrine of Baba Harbhajan Singh in Nathu La pass (located in the East Sikkim distict in Himalayas). The importance of the shrine is that it is built in honour of an Indian army soldier.
Captain Harbhajan Singh is his name, he is referred as the “Hero of Nathu La” also called as “Baba” by the believers. The brave soldier who left his body in a battle at 14,500 ft at the early age of 22. It is believed that his soul still protects the soldiers in the inhospitable high- altitude terrain of East Himalayas. He serves his country even after the death. As any saints, he grants favours to those who worship him.
Baba Harbhajan Singh was born in 1946 in a Sikh family in Punjab and he died 1968 in Sikkim. He martyred near the Nathu La in East Sikkim. After his death, his body was not found for three days and officials declared him as “deserter”. But that day he appeared in the dream of a soldier and showed the right path to find his body and the search party found his body exactly at the same place. He was cremated with full military honors.
Soldiers believe that Baba would warn the soldiers at the times of war between China and India and also warns about the Chinese strategies atleast three days in advance. The soldiers who sleeps on his duty and those who are not disciplined are punished by slapping. Baba’s uniform which hangs in a display is not cleaned by anyone, it is kept cleaned by his soul.
Indian Army still considers his duty, and his salary is sent to his parents. Every year army sanctions his leave and two soldiers will escort to his village Kapurtala with his belongings. Harbhajan Singh died when he was ranked as a foot soldier and he is being promoted to the upper ranks regularly. During the time of Indo-China discussions not only Indians, even the Chinese allot a seat for him. He was retired on 2006.
Indian Army built a shrine for him and even today people visits the shrine to pay respects by singing National Anthem. He was posthumously awarded “Maha Vir Chakra” on 26th January 1969.
We Indians are only known of Celebrities and Cricketers and not about “Heroes who protects us by sacrificing their lives”. Baba Harbhajan Singh is a soldier who performs his duty even after death “Duty beyond Death”. And whenever you go to Nathu La pass, don’t miss to visit this Shrine.