Did you know the Museum of Memories?
Located upstream from the town of Kargil (seat of the eponymous district under the new union territory of Ladakh), along the northern limits of India, is a small village named Hunderman. But the populated village you see today is a later settlement. The current village was founded at a lower level a few centuries ago as the area provided fertile pastures for cattle grazing in the summer. However, Hundarman would have lived anonymously among the annals of military history had it not been for a small museum built here in 2015.
According to records, between 1949 and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Hunderman (originally called Hundermo, according to Stanzin Saldon writing for People’s Archives of Rural Indialisten)) was part of Pakistan. Then, for several years, it belonged to no one. In 1971, while playing a crucial role in favor of the liberation war in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), the Indian army recovered Hunderman.
Unfortunately, the last war saw families split up, some going to Pakistan, others staying in India. Being on the Line of Control between the two warring nations, life has not been easy for the residents here. Gradually most moved to a higher ledge, moving away from the proximity of the LoC.
Aptly named the Museum of Memories (also, Unlock Hunderman – Museum of Memories), housed in one of the restored private homes among the historic blocks of abandoned buildings, it connects the past to the present through exhibits ranging from kitchen utensils old and traditional cuisine, jewelry, indoor games, family documents and letters to the armaments of wars. According to media reports, it was Ilyas Ansari, with historical roots in the village, who pioneered the idea of preserving Hunderman’s history and culture. Under the guidance of Ajaz Hussain Munshi, a museum curator from Kargil (who successfully established a cultural museum named the Munshi Aziz Bhat Museum), and several local organizations, the museum was built in three halls.
You can also take a tour of the village with the help of a guide to learn more about the architectural intricacies. The whole site, consisting mainly of houses and cattle sheds, was interconnected everywhere, apparently for the convenience of not having to go out when it snowed during the winter. The chambers had three walls built while the rocky mountain formed the fourth. Each house had a lever locking system; apparently the secret of opening the door was known only to the owner.
About 10 km from Kargil market and connected to it by a rough motorable road, Hunderman Bok (as the ancient village is called) stands like a mute commentator. The hills on the other side, which can be seen closely while climbing the path, belong to Pakistan. Tomes are written all over the world about life in conflict zones, but for Hunderman Bok in LoC Kargil, it’s a harsh reality.