Chandimandir Cantonment

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Chandimandir Cantonment is a military station of the Indian Army, generally referred to as Chandimandir Cantonment, located in Panchkula district, at the foot of the Sivalik Hills adjoining Panchkula city, in the state of Haryana, India. It is the headquarters of the Western Command of Indian Army. The village that gives Chandimandir its name is on its North Eastern edge along the Ambala-Kalka highway. Panchkula city is to its south, the river Ghagghar to its West, Mansa Devi and Saketri to its East.

It is among the few modern Military Stations built in Independent India and not having a starting history dating back to the British Indian Army.

Details[edit]

Chandimandir has Sectors A, and B for its officer's family quarters . Sectors C, D, E and F for JCO's and OR's family. A large number of families also stay in Panchkula in hired houses. It has Pine marg as a residential area for senior officers. The Auditorium is called Manekshaw Auditorium,( after Field Marshal Manekshaw) and it has a stadium called Raina stadium after the former chief of the Indian Army. There are also many army units within its area. It also has the Western Command Hospital on the Chandigarh Kalka highway. It has two Kendriya Vidyalaya's, one Army Public School and one Army School in its limits. CTU's bus route no 30-A from Chandigarh goes to Chandimandir. This Cantonment is practically a part of the Chandigarh Tricity.

There is a small shopping and facilities complex near the Sector's A and D. The market has shops of daily needs and a couple of bank ATMs. Western Command CSD, State Bank of India and State Bank of Patiala, very well stocked Command library and AWWA Shops are co-located in the complex to provide a one stop for requirement of serving and retired personnel.

The Alpha Mess and officer's Institute, the Command Headquarters, the M.E.S. Inspection Bungalow, Shivalik Retreat (guest house) and the GOC's residence as well as the senior officers residence ( Pine Marg) are all on a high hill in the western section of the cantt, overlooking the rest of the sectors. There is a deep gorge behind/ to the west of this hill. To the north of this hill is the Golf Course and the helipad.

There is a K.O.I. (Khetarpaul Officer's Institute) (earlier S.O.I. - Shivalik Officer's Institute) near the main gate to the cantonment (The Shakti Dwar). This is at the cannt's south opening onto the highway, and leading to Panchkula's sector 1 and 6.

Apart from Cantonment area, Chandimandir houses small townships like Bir Ghaggar and Gumthala. The literacy level in these suburbs is lower than the surrounding areas. Besides, there is a temple of Chandi Devi in Bir Ghaggar from where Chandimandir as well as Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab and Haryana derive their respective names. The semi-perennial river Ghaggar, tributary of river Ganges also flows through Chandimandir.

History[edit]

The cantonment was built in the late 1960s as the Indian Army's Western Army Command Headquarters. However a new corps raised in the 1971 Indo-Pak war (II Corps) was housed here till the mid 1980s. Till then the Western Army Command was in Simla. Which meant due to a shortage of space in Simla not too many Command units were within the Simla area. In the mid 1980s 2 Corps ( Kharga) moved to Ambala and Western Command moved from Simla to Chandimandir.

Most of the tree's and the green cover that cover the foothills in which Chandimandir is built were planted by the army.

Operation Blue Star[edit]

Main article: Operation Blue Star

In 1984, Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, decided to deploy the army to flush Sikh militants along with the Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his associates out of the Golden Temple at Amritsar complex. K S Brar, along with Lt. General Krishnaswamy Sundarji (then chief of western army command) and Lt. General Ranjit Singh Dyal (then chief of staff in the command), planned this operation codenamed Operation Blue Star.[8]

Immediately before the Operation Blue Star, K S Brar was commanding 9 Division based in Meerut, as a major general. His three brigades were based in Meerut, Delhi and Jalandhar, and two of them were made up of Sikhs.[5] He and his wife were all set to fly to Manila on the night of 1 June 1984 for a month-long vacation. However, on 31 May, he got a call asking him to come to Chandimandir Cantonment. He told his wife that he would be back by evening for the night flight to Manila. However, at Chandimandir Cantonment, he was told to take a flight to Amritsar. There was already a division at Amritsar, but it had been relocated to the Indo-Pak border in case Pakistan decided to move in to support the pro-Khalistan militants.[5] When Brar told his seniors about his planned leave, Ranjit Singh Dyal and Krishnaswamy Sundarji conferred with each other, and asked him to cancel his vacation.

Geography[edit]

The cantonement is in the foothills of the Shivaliks. The region has a lot of low rolling hills which are covered with dry thorny forests. To its northern edge the forest and hills continue till the valley between the foothills and the main Himalayas that contains Baddi and Nalagarh . The tree's are mostly Kikar ( Acacia) and a lot of zizyphus berry bushes are a part of the undergrowth. 3 of the 5 kul's ( canals) of Panchkula pass through this area.

Education[edit]

The Cantt has 3 schools in all,two Kendriya Vidyalayas and one Army Public School. Nearby Panchkula and Chandigarh offer several other schools. The Cantt has no college but Panchkula, Kalka and Chandigarh have several colleges and there is a direct bus from the Cantt to the Punjab University covering the major colleges in Chandigarh. However, The British School, Hansraj Public School in Panchkula and Delhi Public School at Pinjore are in the vicinity.

Transport[edit]

Chandimandir Railway Station

The Cantonment is just off the junction of two highways, Located at the point at which the Chandigarh Old Panchkula highway meets the Zirakpur- Kalka ( part of the Delhi -Simla highway)is Old Panchkula. Chandimandir is in the North west of this Quadrant. The Chandimandir Old Panchkula road forms its southern boundary. The Zirakpur Kalka highway is close to its western boundary, the river Ghagghar in parts is its western boundary. Chandigarh is some 15 kilometers away, though the Manimajra part of Chandigarh is only some 4 kilometers.

Mansa Devi is just east of the Cantt, though the road route is long due to a gorge in between.The Urban estate Panchkula's Sectors 1, 6 and parts of 7 are just south of the cantonment's southern boundary. Pinjore is just 8 kilometers to the north and Kalka 15 kilometers. There is a railway station at Chandimandir but not too many trains stop there. Chandigarh railway station as well as Chandigarh airports are the usual air and rail transport hubs for this cantt.

Places of interest[edit]