View Full Version : Pics of Indian Army regimental enlisted bootcamp

12 Jul 08,, 02:50

It is extremely rare (impossible?) to come across any pics of Indian army regimental training. Imagine my surprise when I found all these pics of the 9 Gorkha Rifles regiment enlisted boot camp.

The Indian army is incredibly diverse, and as such is divided into relatively regional/ethnic/linguistic homogeneous infantry regiments for ease of communication. As such, depending on the region of India where a Jawan (soldier) is recruited, he goes to boot camp run by the regiment he is assigned to.

Most of these Regiments date back to the British Indian Army with roots and traditions dating back to pre-British Raj armies and formations. Each regiment has its own unique traditions that reflect their cultural make up that is seen in its uniform, training styles, choice of weapon, martial art and physical training. There is immense pride attached to the history, glory, battle honors and accomplishment of the regiment.

This can very much be seen in these pics from 9 Gorkha Rifles regiment, which has seen distinguished action in Europe and Asia in WW1 and WW2, 1947 Indo-Pakistan war, 1962 Indo-Pak war, 1962 India-China war, 1971 India-Pak war, and countless counter-insurgency/anti-terrorist operations in both Kashmir and in Northeast India.

This regiment is comprised mostly of Nepali-speaking people from central Himalayan-bordering India (from Terai to Nepal to Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh), with regimental headquarters in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh state.

9 Gorkha Rifles war veterans with their Regimental Flag and battle honors. 9 GR is unique in that its flag and pendants are masted on the Trishul, or Trident, symbol of Hindu Lord Shiva, and the weapon of eighth century Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath:

Guru Gorkahnath, whom the Gorkhas (Gurkhas) are named after, led the Gorkhas and the hill people of the Himalaya to not only halt, but throw back the first Muslim advance in India, and led his Gorkha troops to liberate the Hindu frontier territory of Gandhara (now Khandahar, Afghanistan) from the waves of Muslim invasion.

Battle honors aside, their motto, Kafar Bhanda Marnu Ramro, or "better to die than live a coward" should itself be testament enough to the bravery and quality of this regiment.

The recruit training below is from the first (and as far as I know, only) comprehensive photography of Indian army recruit training, held at 9 Gorkha Rifles's Gorkha Training Centre in Varanasi, which it shares with 3 GR. The Indian army is notoriously camera-shy/secretive/paranoid/totally-ignorant-of-PR/whatever and pics are very, very hard to come by... especially intimate photos like these. Pics copyright Indiapicture.


A scene I'm sure is familiar to new recruits all over the world. At least the guy's got the thousand yard stare down, already:

HOOAH PT!! Here a drill instructor shames recruits with his sheer Bir-Gorkhaness:

Like all Indian Army regiments, yoga is an integral part of the physical fitness regimen which increases strength, stamina and flexibility. Each regiment has its own flavor of the art:

Here a drill instructor is busy 'motivating' his recruits. This particular exercise involves basically doing handstand pushups for upwards of 15-20 minutes:


Initial Weapons training... here a drill instructor instructs recruits on the various infantry weapons used, like the INSAS, FN FAL, 7.62mm IB, etc. These pictures are several years old, and since then, army units have standardized with the INSAS system:

One of the unique weapons of the Gorkha regiments is the Kukhri knife, which was, as legend goes, designed from the Trishul. Here, Kukhri weapons training with traditional training shield. Most regiments have some form of unique weapon relating to their histories and ethnic groups, like the Chakram of Sikh regiments, the Dah knife of Assam rgt, etc:

Here an instructor demonstrates the proper use of the bayonet. I can almost hear him screaming the Gorkha war cry, "Jai Mahakali, Ayo Gorkhali" (O Goddess Khali, Here come the Gorkhas!):

...and the proper use of the Kukhri (on a recruit who I assume is frozen in shock/terror.) Yikes.


Except for select exercises, Drill and PT involves constant cross training with weapons.:


COIN ops can last for weeks, with units literally living off the land in jungles and traversing dangerous terrain in full kit:


Training op tempo steps up exponentially throughout the training process:

...to live fire (ha ha, get it?) exercises:


(seriously, though, these are all literally live-firing exercises with live munition and bullets):





...continued below

12 Jul 08,, 02:51
...continued from above


As the weeks progress, the exercises quickly take an ominous tone, as they become modeled on real-world situations:


Troops are trained on a variety of weapons and kit, for real world-scenarios ranging from conventional to biological to anti-terror to COIN operations:



Reality is a major component to these exercises, with open-ended scenarios that can go any number of ways, depending on how the recruits react to circumstances. :


The drill instructors really get into it as well, here is one playing a villager complete with hut, goats and rural dress, during cordon search operation exercises. These tactics are, of course, vital components to anti-terror and COIN ops:


Only if a recruit successfully completes the training does he get the honor with the title of Jawan ("soldier") of the Regiment. Each regiment has its own tradition for the Passing Out ceremonies:

In the Gorkha Regiments, newly graduated Jawans take an oath to Regiment and country over the Regimental Bagvad Gita (Hindu holy book written of Lord Krishna's discourse to General Arjuna on the Dharma ("Duty") of a soldier, during the Mahabharat War)

The final part of the ceremony is the honor of receiving the Kukhri sidearm, which will follow the Jawan to battle for the rest of his career and beyond:

The Honor Guard salutes their new comrades. Note the distinctive ceremonial uniform, and the regimental crests of 3 and 9 GR on his topee, since this is a joint passing out parade:

The new recruits then proudly march off:

As the band plays "Bir Gorkhali" (O Brave Gorkha), and there is much celebrating between the instructors and their former recruits. Note the Band's ceremonial regimental dress in the background:


After the graduation ceremony, a new Jawan of the 9 GR reads about the humbling honors that his Regiment earned:

A new Jawan of 3 GR regiment, who shares the Varanasi Gorkha Training Centre, proudly sharpens his Kukhri after the parade:

As a military history enthusiast, I found the photo series to be a fascinating peek in the colorful culture of Indian army. Hope you like it.


12 Jul 08,, 03:00

12 Jul 08,, 06:47
good for psy ops

Knaur Amarsh
12 Jul 08,, 15:40
Impressive,nice work Raj

King Six
12 Jul 08,, 16:32
It's true I guess, I mean we've all seen what training is like for the US/UK/Europe/Russia/China, I never have seen what it's like for India

Good pics

INSAS, is that an indigenous rifle? What's it like? Reminds me of the Israeli Galil

Any more pics?

12 Jul 08,, 16:39
RajKhalsa! Thanks for the pics! I'm quite a follower of your posts at the other forum; militarypictures, expect to see more of you here!

12 Jul 08,, 19:03
Thx. RajKhalsa. Great pictures.

Waiting for more to come.

11 Oct 08,, 16:58
Nice Pics these

11 Oct 08,, 18:41
Excellent pics .....well done

11 Oct 08,, 21:22
Awesome pictures-keep them coming if you can:).

31 Oct 08,, 08:37
Hi all, sorry for the long delay

Here are some more pics from some interesting Indian formations: this time India's Tibetan Troops of the Special Frontier Force and the Ladakh Scouts.

While Tibetan troops have historically always fought as Indian soldiers (records of the hardiness of Tibetan troops goes as far back as the Mahabharat War), they have long been considered taboo to talk about in modern India, lest their very existence be viewed as provocation. It's indeed ironic that considering that Tibetans and Ladakhis are amongst India's most patriotic peoples (Tibetan and Ladakhi per capita participation in the Indian military and security forces even exceed that of India's Gorkhas, with each family typically having two members actively serving.)

However, perhaps due to the visibility of their success in the Kargil conflict and a seachange in the way modern India looks at itself, India's Tibetan troops, glories, service and war honors are finally getting the recognition they deserve.


The first set of photos is of the the very highly trained Special Frontier Force (SFF). The SFF is by far India's most secretive and one of her most elite commando units -- and is also India's most interesting unit as its comprised almost entirely of ethnic Tibetans (including those descended from Tibetan refugee populations as well as India's own ethnic Tibetan ethnic groups from Ladakh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, as well as those descended from refugee populations and mountain peoples from Nepal and Bhutan.)

It was conceived in the post Sino-Indian war period as a guerrilla force whose main goals was to conduct covert special operations behind Chinese lines, reconnaissance against the Chinese occupying forces in Tibet, aiding in the safe exit and exile of Tibetans and close protection of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile.

The SFF is not a military formation, but is under the Research and Analysis Wing, the Indian version of the CIA. However, the SFF works trains and works closely with military and other federal special operations groups, and undergo training for commando parachute and can also train for combat diving qualifications.

Since the 1980s, units of the SFF have also been tasked with counter-terrorism, intelligence gathering on China and Pakistan, and combat air control.

Below are amongst the only pics ever released of India's most secretive unit.

SFF Badge:

SFF Commandos participating in the liberation of Bangladesh during the 1971 India-Pakistan war, where they conducted successful operations with astonishing effect. The SFF weren't ordered to participate in what the Indian government viewed as a foreign war to them, but upon Prime Minister Gandhi's request voluntarily and formally took up arms both to as a show of thanks to India which had recently sheltered the Tibetans and the Dalai Lama, and to liberate the Bengalis of West Pakistan whose situation was regarded as analogous to the plight of Tibetans under China:



A historic photo of a SFF Dapon ("Major" in Tibetan):

The following are amongst the only modern pics from the 13,000 strong unit. The troops are amongst the best equipped and trained in India (an example being they were the first troops to receive Tavor rifles):



SFF mountaineering skills are legendary, and SFF troops have participated in many Indian mountaineering expeditions:

Several maroon beret-wearing SFF troops (as well as troops from the Parachute Regiment, who lack the distinct SFF crest) can be seen in this picture of an Indian expedition to Everest:


The second unit is that of the Ladakh Scouts Indian Army regiment. Known as the Snow Warriors or Lama Fauj ("army of the Lamas"), it is India's newest infantry regiment but amongst the most highly decorated.

Raised as a local pathfinder and border defense unit following the India-China war, it distinguished itself in the Indo-Pak wars. Its achievements and glories in the 1999 Kargil were so outstanding that the Ladakh Scouts were promoted to a full Infantry Regiment of the Indian Army, now boasting more than 300 gallantry awards including one Ashok Chakra, ten Mahavir Chakras, four Vir Chakra, two Kirti Chakras, three Sena Medals and one Chief of Army Staff's Banner.

The Ladakh Scouts distinguished themselves in the Kargil War. The second photo is of popular war hero and Mahavir Chakra awardee Major Sonam Wangchuck and his famous troops of Indus Wing (battalion), Ladakh Scouts:


The Ladakh Scouts underwent much expansion when they became a regiment, and now is the primary employer of the Ladakhi people, though many Gorkhas also serve in their ranks. Below, Ladakh Scouts Nonus (or "brothers" in Ladakhi) as they are affectionately known as in the Indian Army, practicing drill in 2000 after they had recently became India's juniormost regiment. In this picture, note the Ladakh Scouts regimental insignia, the Urial, native to the Himalayan mountains:


Ladakh Scouts Jawans, hailing from the highest place on earth, naturally make amongst the worlds finest mountain troops and make up a significant deployment to Siachen Glacier:


A portrait of Havaldar Cherring Muthup of the Ladakh Scouts who awarded the Ashoka Chakra for an action on the Siachen Glacier that remains classified to this day:

They are equipped and trained to be India's first line of defense against China in the Western Sector, often charged with guarding the mountain passes in Leh and Ladakh:


Troops paying homage to fallen comrades at Ladakh Scouts Regimental Center:

A Ladakh Scouts Ghatak (commando) platoon. Ghatak platoons are elite commando platoons attached to each infantry battalion of the Indian Army:


Well, that's all for now. I'll post some more pics later.


dave lukins
31 Oct 08,, 11:49
Thanks Raj..very nice..very interesting:)

31 Oct 08,, 13:45
The portrait of the Havildar looks beautiful...Thanks Raj..

Albany Rifles
31 Oct 08,, 18:04
Thanks for sharing. Those are great.

31 Oct 08,, 18:21
The gentleman on the left front was my GOC in the Kargil War and I was his Deputy.

He was then Maj Gen (later Lt Gen) Mohinder Puri.

31 Oct 08,, 18:49
The gentleman on the left front was my GOC in the Kargil War and I was his Deputy.

He was then Maj Gen (later Lt Gen) Mohinder Puri.

Impressive looking bunch Sir, ..............:eek: but still wearing puttees ....... actually I liked them myself give great support to the ankles

31 Oct 08,, 19:08
Great pics Sir!

31 Oct 08,, 22:12
Very nice pics .... I wish more people in India could see how professional the defense forces in India are ...

On a lighter note ... maybe in this age of "Indian Idol" and "MTV Roadies", the Indian Army should create a Reality show about the training in IMA or NDA ... could act as a recruiting tool for the new generation .... :))

04 Nov 08,, 01:58
Really nice pics Raj. Especially the SFF pics; a rare find.

06 Nov 08,, 12:42
Thanks for sharing.

dave lukins
06 Nov 08,, 13:25
Sadly the first Gurkha Soldier has been killed in Afghanistan...RIP


06 Nov 08,, 13:35
Sadly the first Gurkha Soldier has been killed in Afghanistan...RIP

http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKTRE4A540120081106May he rest in peace.

06 Nov 08,, 13:47
RIP Yubraj Rai............condolences to your family ..........FEAR NAUGHT

Knaur Amarsh
06 Nov 08,, 14:06
sadly the first gurkha soldier has been killed in afghanistan...rip


he died doing what he did best, amongst his greatest friends and admirers and for a cause he had taken the time to understand. He was brave, strong, hard and noble; he epitomised all that makes the gurkhas great -- the best.

Rest In Peace

08 Nov 08,, 09:20
RIP :( I'm sure his kin take solace in the fact he gave his life to successfully liberate a country and peoples that their ancestors under their Guru, Sant Gorkhanath, who had faced much the same enemy and same evil ideology, liberated so many hundreds of years ago.

On a somewhat lighter note, here are some more pictures :)

This time, of the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at India's Rashtrapati Bhavan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rashtrapati_Bhavan) (Presidential Palace), the official residence of the President of India. These pictures are rather recent, taken on Jan 4, 2008.

Steeped in Indian Military traditions from both ancient India as well as the Indian Army's colonial heritage, the Changing of the Guards ceremony dates back several hundred years. The ceremony features The President's Bodyguard (http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/Regiments2/PBG.html), the Indian Army's oldest and senior most regiment, as well as India's Household Calvary regiment, raised in 1773 and with traditions dating back over a hundred years earlier, as well as soldiers from the Rajputana Rifles (http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/Regiments/Rajputana.html), India's senior most rifles regiment, raised in 1775.

Soldiers of the band and marching contingents are assigned from different regiments for duty over a short period of time in rotation. It is considered an especial honor for the regiment and is a matter of great pride. The following pictures of the ceremony, the Regimental Contingent features soldiers from the Assam Regiment (http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/LAND-FORCES/Army/Regiments/Assam.html), one of India's youngest but one of the most decorated infantry regiments, which was raised in 1941 and is composed of soldiers from and draws traditions from the India's northeast states.

The Changing of the Guards ceremony takes place every morning, but on Saturday mornings a larger traditional ceremony is held. At 0615, amid the sounds of martial music, the marching of footsteps and beating of hoofs arising from within the complex, the new Guard detachment comprising a contingent of an Indian Army Regiment (in this case, Assam Rifles), Rajputana Rifles and the mounted troops of The President's Bodyguard, accompanied by the regimental brass band, emerges on to Rajpath, marching to the strains of "Vijay Bharat (http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/BANDSTAND/iaf/meta/vijay.ram)," while the Old Guard marches off to "Sare Jahan Se Achha (http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/BANDSTAND/navy/meta/sarenavy.ram)"

The two Guards meet and compliments are paid by the New Guard, who assumes charge. The Old Guard marches off along with the band playing "Amar Jawan."

The pictures are taken by and copyright Husain.


The calm before the Ceremonies. Note the regimental pendants of 6 Assam Rifles and PBG:




The marching out of the New Guard:










Formation ceremonies in front of the Secretariat Buildings:










[continued below...]

08 Nov 08,, 09:20
[...continued from above]


The march out down Rajpath to the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the actual Changing of the Guard:









The incoming guard first salutes the outgoing guard in front of the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan:









Thus old guard is relieved and marches away, concluding the ceremonies:









Shiny Capstar
08 Nov 08,, 10:39
Ah the changing of the guard, I remember those over here.

Its good to see that it is still done in India.

08 Nov 08,, 14:54
Excdellent pictures Raj, nothing quite like tradition to instill pride in people.

08 Nov 08,, 15:52
Sadly the first Gurkha Soldier has been killed in Afghanistan...RIP


Rest in Peace.

21 Dec 08,, 22:39
Hi Raj,

I logged in after a long time today and guess what I stumble into: Nostalgia. As a Gorkha officer of yore, I was awestruck watching these pics. Thanks and well done.