Know Your City: Mysore Lancers Haifa Memorial – a historical landmark in Bengaluru with an Israel connection – The Indian Express

Udaya Raghunatha Birje, great grandson of soldier Raghunatha Rao Birje who served in the Mysore Lancers during the First World War, recalled how his great grandmother used to describe the march of the Mysore Lancers through what is now the RT Main Road in Bengaluru. “My great grandmother used to tell me that the entire area used to shake under the hooves of the horses belonging to Mysore Lancers,” said Birje.
The Mysore Lancers Haifa Memorial – an iconic landmark representing the valour and bravery of the Mysore Lancers in the First World War – is an attraction in the neighbourhood.

Located at the juncture of today’s RT Nagar and JC Nagar Main Road, the memorial is around 103 years old and was commissioned by the then Maharaja of Mysore Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar. The memorial is engraved with a Roll of Honour mentioning the names of Mysore Lancers martyrs in the First World War.
According to experts, the memorial has been built on a ‘no man’s land’. Yashaswini Sharma, an architect who is planning the restoration work 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 along with Sharma has submitted a proposal to the Indian Army to set up the statue at the Parachute Regiment Training Center, about 300 meters from the memorial.
The members of the heritage foundation, who are also the descendants of Mysore Lancers, marked the 104th anniversary of Haifa Day on September 23, by organizing a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial.

Of the many heroic deeds of the Mysore Lancers in the First World War, the battle to liberate the port city of Haifa (in present-day Israel) from Ottoman invaders is often talked about. According to the descendants of the Mysore Lancers, the battle was one of its kind where the Mysore cavalry triumphed over enemies’ machine guns and other ammunition. Notably, the 15th Cavalry Brigade of the British Empire consisted of the Imperial Service Troops from the princely states of Hyderabad, Mysore, Patiala, Alwar and Jodhpur.
As the story goes, despite fighting with bare minimum resources, the horses, being particularly good at mountain warfare, helped the soldiers at Mount Carmel dodge the attacks of machine guns. This gave them a strategic advantage over the enemies.
The Mysore Lancers also conducted a victory march through the cities of present-day Israel on horseback.
According to a memorandum presented by the foundation, the Mysore Lancers contingent in the First World war consisted of 29 officers, 444 non-commissioned officers with 528 horses, 49 mules and 132 followers. They fought under the command of Chamaraj Urs Bahadur; and the then Maharaja of Mysore, Nalvadi Krishna Raja Wadiyar, sent his brother-in-law Col J Desaraj Urs, the chief commandant of the Mysore State Troops, as his personal representative to Haifa.

The names of some of the soldiers engraved on the ‘Roll of Honour’ of the memorial 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 holding immense historical and diplomatic significance, the maintenance and the ownership of the memorial has not yet been fixed. In fact, the memorial has developed a few cracks down the years.
While speaking with, Sharma said: “Many residents of Bengaluru do not know about the memorial and the story of the unsung heroes whose names are etched on the memorial. But the memorial is actually a symbol of cultural and historical relationship between two nations – India and Israel. We have submitted the proposal before the government and the Indian 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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