Know Your City: Mysore Lancers Haifa Memorial – a historic monument in Bangalore with a connection to Israel

Udaya Raghunatha Birje, great-grandson of Private Raghunatha Rao Birje who served in the Mysore Lancers in World War I, recalled how his great-grandmother described the march of the Mysore Lancers through what is now RT Main Road in Bengaluru. “My great-grandmother used to tell me that the whole area was shaking under the hooves of horses belonging to the Mysore Lancers,” Birje said.

The Mysore Lancers Haifa Memorial – an iconic monument depicting the gallantry and gallantry of the Mysore Lancers during World War I – is a neighborhood attraction.

Located at the junction of present-day RT Nagar and JC Nagar main roads, the memorial is approximately 103 years old and was commissioned by Maharaja of Mysore Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar. The memorial is engraved with a roll of honor mentioning the names of the martyrs of the Lancers of Mysore during the First World War.

According to experts, the memorial was built on “no man’s land”. Yashaswini Sharma, an architect who is planning the restoration works of the memorial and also designing a statue commemorating the Mysore Lancers, said the memorial falls on the border between RT Nagar and JC Nagar.

The Mysore Lance Heritage Foundation and Sharma submitted a proposal to the Indian Army to install the statue at the Parachute Regiment Training Center, about 300 meters from the memorial.

Members of the heritage foundation, who are also descendants of the Mysore Lancers, marked the 104th anniversary of Haifa Day on September 23 by holding a wreath laying ceremony at the memorial.

Among the many heroic deeds of the Mysore spearmen during World War I, the battle to liberate the port city of Haifa (in present-day Israel) from Ottoman invaders is often mentioned. According to the descendants of the Mysore Lancers, the battle was one of a kind where Mysore cavalry triumphed over enemy machine guns and other ammunition. Notably, the British Empire’s 15th Cavalry Brigade consisted of Imperial Service troops from the princely states of Hyderabad, Mysore, Patiala, Alwar and Jodhpur.

According to the story, despite fighting with minimal resources, horses, particularly good at mountain warfare, helped Mount Carmel’s soldiers dodge machine gun attacks. This gave them a strategic advantage over enemies.

The Mysore Lancers also staged a victorious march on horseback through the towns of present-day Israel.

According to a memorandum presented by the foundation, the Mysore Lancers contingent during World War I consisted of 29 officers, 444 non-commissioned officers with 528 horses, 49 mules and 132 partisans. They fought under the command of Chamaraj Urs Bahadur; and the then Maharaja of Mysore, Nalvadi Krishna Raja Wadiyar, sent his brother-in-law, Colonel J Desaraj Urs, the Commander-in-Chief of Mysore State Troops, as his personal representative in Haifa.

The names of some of the soldiers engraved on the memorial’s “Roll of Honor” are Lingaraj Urs, Venkata Rao Maney, Raghunatha Rao Birje, Mohammad Abdul Sattar, Sheik Ibrahim, Mohan Singh, Mahadeva Rao Bhobely and Rama Rao Gaikwad, among others .

But despite its immense historical and diplomatic significance, the upkeep and ownership of the memorial has yet to be settled. In fact, the memorial has developed a few cracks over the years.

In conversation with indianexpress.com, Sharma said, “Many people in Bengaluru do not know about the memorial and the story of the unsung heroes whose names are engraved on the memorial. But the memorial is actually a symbol of the cultural and historical relationship between two nations – India and Israel. We have submitted the proposal to the Indian government and army to redesign the memorial and also install a statue of the Mysore Lancers. In addition, we have also submitted a proposal to the state archaeological department to list the memorial as a heritage monument.

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