Belief or faith in God often helps one gather the courage in the face of adversity. The Indian Army has its share of stories when God helped Indian soldiers standing on the brink of annihilation and ended up being victorious.
The story of Tanot Temple at the Longewala border in Rajasthan is one such miraculous tale when the local deity Tanot aka Awad Mata didn't let any Pakistani tank bomb explode and Indian soldiers who were certain of martyrdom and defeat went on to crush the Pakistanis in both 1965 as well as 1971 wars.
The legends say that in both wars more than 3,000 bombs were dropped either in the vicinity or while in the temple, but none exploded. And one can see some of those bombs in the Museum built by BSF inside the temple premises.
Situated 122 Km from the city Jaisalmer in Westernmost point of Rajasthan, Tanot has become one of the most visited tourist spots especially for those who love the wilderness of Rajasthan and admire stories related to army heroics.
The famous Bollywood movie Border which based on the battle of Longewala in 1971 when 120 men of Indian Army crushed over 2000 Pakistani soldiers with a tank squadron also showed that how the belief on Tanot Mata didn't let soldiers lose their hope even against the enemy so colossal in size and weaponry.
Tanot is a village near Indo-Pak border in Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan. As per the oldest Charan literature, Tannot Mata is as an incarnation of divine goddess Hinglaj Mata, and she later takes the form of Karni Mata. The temple was established in the early eighth century.
In the 1965 war against Pakistan, Indian Army was under immense pressure as Pakistan firepower was more menacing than ever before and Indians weren't equipped with adequate weaponry to respond to Pakistan's shelling. Pakistani forces while taking advantage of this captured large areas including Kishangarh near Sadewala post where Indian forces were in thick numbers.
13 Grenadiers fighting at Sadewala knew that since their supply lines have been cut by Pakistani capture of key areas, they have to fight the battle of their lives to sustain and secure their post. Soon the shelling started on November 17 on Sadewala, a post near Tanot Mata temple but surprisingly none of the bombs could meet the target and those which fell near post didn't explode.
The legend says that Pakistan army dropped more than 3000 bombs till 19 November but the temple of Tanot Mata remained unscathed. The story goes on saying that deity herself came in the dream of soldiers and promised to protect them if they stay in the close vicinity of the temple.
After India defeated Pakistan in 1965, BSF established a post inside the temple premises and took charge of proceedings of Pooja of the deity, Tanot Mata. Till date, the temple is handled by BSF.
When India Army was thrashing them in erstwhile East Pakistan, Pakistan decided to engage Indian Army on two fronts and opened the western front in Rajasthan.
But this time, they didn't choose Sadewala as it was well guarded by Indians suspecting that Pakistan would repeat their 1965 faux pas. This time Pakistanis chose Longewala another post near Tanot temple. It was guarded by a company of 120 men led by Major Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri.
Despite several odds, the soldiers didn't lose hope and kept their belief on Tanot Mata. On December 4, Pakistan attacked Longewala with a full battalion and tank squadron. But again the bombs which fell near deity didn't explode and just a company of 120 men went on to crush Pakistani hubris clad a squadron of tanks. Longewala is one of the greatest battles ever fought in the history of Independent India.
Post-1971 war, the fame of Tanot Mata and her temple reached heights and BSF constructed a big temple on that site along with a Museum where the unexploded bomb shot at Indian Army was kept. Indian Army built a Vijay Stambha to mark the victory of Longewala inside the temple compound and each year a celebration takes place on December 16 as the commemoration of the great victory over Pakistan in 1971.
The temple is some 122 kilometers (76 mi) from the City of Jaisalmer, and it takes about two hours to reach by road. The road to Tanot is surrounded by miles and miles of sand dunes and sand mountains.
The temperatures in the area can go up to 49°C. Hence, the ideal time to visit is between the months of November and January.