April 15, 2024

The northern most point in India, where you can locate a 'warbird' is at Dras, near Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir. The scene of fierce fighting in 1999 between India and Pakistan, a MiG-21M keeps lone watch at the war memorial in tribute to the five Indian Air Force lives lost in that war. 

We all heard about the "southern most" located fighter in India – the MiG-21U at Nagercoil. Now meet the "Northern most" fighter in mainland India – an unmarked MiG-21M located at the Kargil War Memorial (Vijay Path) on the Dras Kargil Highway (NH1D) in Jammu and Kashmir.  

The Kargil/Dras War Memorial was built by the Indian Army about 5 km from the city centre of Dras.  It is located on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway 1D. The memorial has a huge epitaph with names of all the officers and soldiers who died in war. The main attraction of the whole memorial is the Sandstone wall, in the open, which has the names of all the Indian army personnel, who laid their lives during the Kargil war besides there is also a souvenir shop. Visitors to the memorial can also see from there, some of the peaks that the Indian army captured back from Pakistan.

A view of the Kargil War Memorial at Dras – also known as Vijay Path. The MiG-21M is a recent addition. The very mountain tops on which the battles were fought are in the background.  Photo Courtesy: Vishal Gupta

In 2014, a MiG-21M was installed in the memorial area. The aircraft has been freshly painted obilitrating all markings or identity of the aircraft. It should be noted that Squadron Leader Ajay Ahuja, the first IAF casuality of the war was flying a MiG-21M of No.17 Squadron when he was shot down, the very type which is displayed here. 

This photograph by Jaideep Prabhu shows the lack of markings on the MiG-21. Note the 'remembrance' area – a faux cemetary with headstones to commemorate the fallen. Photo Courtesy : Jaideep Prabhu



Ofcourse, the distinction of being the northern most airframe belongs to the derelict Mi-4 at Daulet Beg Oldi. While the DBO wreck will fall on the wayside to the elements, this MiG-21 will be taken care for generations to come. 


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