The famed Gorkha Rifles of the Indian Army — known for their Khukris and their ‘Aayo Gorkhali’ battle cry — completes 200 years of their raising on Friday.
The Gorkhas were first recruited by the East India Company and later fought under the British in several battles including World War I and II and continued in the Indian Army after Independence.
The first regiment was raised by Sir Robert Colquhuon on April 24, 1815 in Uttaranchal with men from Gorkhas, Kumaon and Garhwal regions. Two battalions, 1/1 GR and 1/3 GR, were raised. “Only a few others including the Madras and Grenadiers Regiments (1758), Punjab Regiment (1761), Rajputana Rifles (1775), Rajput Regiment (1778), Jat Regiment (1795) and Kumaon Regiment (1813) are among the other native infantry regiments that preceded them,” said an officer.
Currently there are about 30,000 Nepalese Gorkhas serving in the seven Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army with their motto being: “ Kafar hunu bhanda marnu ramro! (It's better to die than be a coward!)”. The Gorkhas are highly decorated having earned 117 gallantry and distinguished awards since Independence including an Ashoka and Kirti Chakra, two Shaurya Chakras and a Padma Bhushan among others. India's first Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw belongs to this regiment as does the current Army Chief General Dalbir Singh.