Pune’s Khadki War Cemetery – A Proof of Unity

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War is where humanity dies; literally and sentimentally. Enemies do not hold back, soldiers become the tools for destruction and sacrifice. Soldiers who are just like us, a part of our community and society, and those brave souls do not blink twice before entering the battlefield and laying down their lives for the country.

To honor these brave souls and individuals, our government goes an extra mile to celebrate their lives and deaths, and so do the citizens. One such memorial is the Khadki or Kirkee Memorial in Pune. Built in 1914, the war memorial houses symmetrically aligned gravestones spread across 13 plots.

Pune
Image by @amberorlina

The minute you enter the war memorial, the chaos of the city subsides, and what replaces it is a subdued serenity. The cemetery here has been built to commemorate the service of men and women who gave up their lives in the civil and second world wars. The memorial is also known as the British War Memorial.

All in all, the cemetery houses 1668 burials, one Polish burial, and one American burial of soldiers martyred in the second world war. There are also 629 unmarked graves of first world war servicemen.

In addition, there are seven more non-war burials here as well. Every headstone has a story, just like every person had one in their life. The sad tranquility makes you realize the scope and destruction of war. Deceased soldiers from all parts of the world and of all religions lie underneath the ground; a solemn sign of unity when it comes to war tragedies and sacrifices.

Pune

Different headstones tell different stories; from those who lost their lives in their early 20s, to those who lost in their 50s. Some headstones bear the star of David for Jewish soldiers, some have Islamic markings. Then there are the Buddhist Pagodas as well. You can also spot gravestones of noteworthy figures like Frederick William Stevens who designed the VT Terminus in Mumbai, or the late Mayor of Mumbai – Joseph Baptista and poet Dom Morales, all buried here.

The memorial is a staunch proof of one important fact- war does not ask for religion, caste, color, nationality, or anything else. Its victims are varied, and tragic. It does not differentiate; it swallows lives regardless. So, if war looks beyond the humanistic traits, then our sympathy and humanity should oversee them as well. Each life is important!

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