Storytime: The Battle of Saragarhi

In this gentle exchange between a grandfather ‘Dada’ and his curious granddaughter ‘Nini’, we uncover the remarkable story of courage of 21 Sikh soldiers in the face of overwhelming odds, a legend to remember.
Let’s embark on this heartwarming journey of courage, sacrifice, and the enduring bond between generations.


Dada: Alright, my little one, it’s story time! What kind of story would you like to hear tonight?

Nini: Ooh, I want to hear about the bravest warriors ever! Tell me about them, Grandpa!

Dada: Ah, you want to hear about true heroes, do you? Well then, let me tell you the story of the Battle of Saragarhi.
It’s a tale like no other, it is a story of unparalleled courage and sacrifice.

Nini: Wow, that sounds exciting! What happened in the Battle of Saragarhi?

Dada: It was a long time ago, back in 1897, in British India, in a place called Saragarhi. It is now in present day Pakistan, in a hilly area near between Peshawar and the Afghanistan border.
This area was originally under Ranjit Sangh and he had built a few forts there. Under the british rule, Saragarhi was an outpost setup in between the Lockhart Fort and Gulistan Fort.

 Battle of Saragarhi

It was a time of  constant warfare and fights between the british and tribal Pashtuns who wanted to take control of the territory. In August and September of 1897, there was a large uprising. An overwhelming force of over 10,000 Afghan tribesmen got together to take over control of Saragarhi.

Nini: Whoa, that’s a lot of bad guys!

Dada: Yes, and the fort was guarded by only 21 Sikh soldiers, under the command of Havaldar Ishar Singh.

Nini: That’s so scary! What did the 21 Sikh soldiers do?

Dada: They stood their ground, my dear. Even though they were vastly outnumbered, they fought with everything they had. They defended their post with incredible bravery, repelling wave after wave of enemy attacks.
sikh warriors

Nini: That’s amazing! What happened next?

Dada: The enemy tried to negotiate a surrender, but those brave Sikh soldiers refused to give up. They fought until the very end, managing to kill four or five hundred of the enemey.
Even when the enemy breached their defenses and entered their fort. They fought hand-to-hand, refusing to back down.

Nini: Did they win, Grandpa?

Dada: In a way, yes. They may not have survived, but they showed the world what true courage looks like. Every single one of those 21 Sikh soldiers fought until their last breath, refusing to surrender even in the face of overwhelming odds.
All of the 21 soldiers involved in the battle were posthumously awarded the Indian Order of Merit, and the the Indian Distinguished Service Medal , which was the highest gallantry award that an Indian soldier could receive at the time,
Every Year on the 12th of September, we remember and pay our respects to the brave heroes.

Nini: They’re like real-life superheroes!

Dada: Yes, they are, my dear. They are true heroes, and we should never forget their sacrifice. They remind us that bravery isn’t about being unafraid; it’s about facing your fears and doing what’s right, no matter the cost. Always remember the bravery of those who came before us. Their courage lives on in stories like these, inspiring future generations to be brave and stand up for what’s right.
Did you know that the story of this epic battle is taught to school children in France, and is one of the eight stories of collective bravery published by UNESCO

sikh warriors

Nini: Thank you for telling me that story, Grandpa. It’s so inspiring!

Dada: You’re welcome, my dear.
Another day, another Story time !


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