Major General Somnath Jha has finally concluded his 12,000-km-long cycle tour to pay homage to fallen soldiers.
This veteran had been on cycling tours earlier. This time around, the reason for it was beyond special.
Major General Somnath Jha served in the infantry for 37 long years, and finally took retirement last year. It was soon after his retirement that Maj Gen Jha decided to embark on an extensive cycling tour around the country. No, it was not any ordinary post-retirement fancy. The tour was symbolic–it was meant to pay homage to India’s fallen soldiers.
After cycling for more than six months, the retired army man is finally back in Delhi. India Today Digital took the opportunity to learn about his experience through a brief tete-a-tete.
How did the idea of this cycling tour come about?
”When in the army, one has to go through a lot of combat and action, which invariably leads to death. When I was close to retiring, I used to think about how fortunate I have been amidst all of this to stay alive,” recalled Maj Gen Jha.
”One day, somebody sent me a YouTube video on a veteran running 2,000 miles to pay homage to soldiers in Iraq. And it instantly struck me that even I could do something similar. I had three options–walking, running and cycling. Walking would have taken over four years. But cycling around the country would have taken a little more than six months to accomplish, and that had been my dream,” he added. Thus was initiated what he himself terms a ‘veteran’s homage journey’–a tour of about 12,000 kms with two minutes dedicated to each martyr.
The experience enroute
Maj Gen Jha started his journey from Ambala Cantonment on October 19, 2016, traversing all across the 29 states, before reaching Delhi recently. The response he received from people during his journey has left him overwhelmed. ”I found the people of my country to be very kind and large-hearted. Brimming with patriotic feelings, they could completely relate to my journey. They were all every optimistic,” said he.
Maj Gen Jha’s expedition was neither sponsored nor supported by an organisation. ”It was entirely my own venture,” he said. But with the help of his fellow countrymen, he really did not have to worry about the expenditure much. ”So much of help came along the way. There were many instances when people did not charge us for food or lodging. Because of the support of every citizen, we didn’t have to spend as much,” he expressed. Plus, he had the company of his wife, Chitra Jha, who took care of the logistics while accompanying him in a car. Read more….