“Jai Maha Kali, Aayo Gorkhali!” or just “Aayo Gorkhali Charge!” is the spine chilling war cry by the soldiers in the Gorkha Rifles regiment of the Indian Army wielding the inwardly-curving Khukris. This war cry is enough to intimidate the enemy in the battlefield. From the frozen frontiers of Siachen to full blown wars, from numerous counter insurgency operations to the border issues with Pakistan and China, the Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army has earned the reputation as a fearless warriors with a fondness for “Rakshi” (dark rum) and living in the moment.
There is no wonder that the first Field Marshal of the country, Sam ‘Bahadur’ Manekshaw, is a Gorkha Rifles officer. He once said, “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gorkha.” In the event of the Gorkha Rifles completing more than two hundred years of soldiering, the 9th Gorkha Regiment is planning to finish their bicentenary celebrations with a grand function and reunion at the 3&9 Gorkha Training Centre in Varanasi.
Chief of the Indian Army, General Bipin Rawat, who is from the 11th Gorkha Regiment, will be the chief guest of the program. Lt. Gen. Anil Kumar Bhatt, who is the Director General of military operations, and also from the 9th Gorkha Regiment, said, “Apart from earlier battles like the ones during World Wars I and II, the 9th GR has participated in all military operations after 1947 with honor and valor.”
It is popularly believed that the British East India Company recruited Gorkhas as soldiers first. However, Army officers asserted that it was Maharaja Ranjit Singh, who started a Gorkha battalion in around 1809 and 1814 to serve in the Sikh Army. “Maharaja Ranjit Singh was impressed by the bravery of these big-hearted little men from the hills. All soldiers serving in the Indian Army are still called ‘Lahorey’ or ‘Lahure’ in Nepal or those who serve in Lahore, which was the capital of Ranjit Singh’s empire,” said an Army officer.
The British East India Company followed suit and raised the “Nusseree” Gorkha battalion at Subathu in Himachal Pradesh in 1815, which later became the first Gorkha Regiment. The British also raised the first battalion of the 9th Gorkha Regiment in 1817. It was called the ‘Fatehgarh Levy’. As per the statistics, there are about 32,000 Nepalese currently serving in the seven Gorkha Regiments of the Indian Army (1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th, and 11th). Each of the regiments has about five or six battalions and around eight hundred soldiers in each battalion.