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A visit to Bahrain Military Museum

Pieces of mechanised artillery greeted us, as soon as we entered the Military Museum in Riffa. A quick demo by a friendly BDF soldier…

… and I was atop the Armoured Fighting Vehicle, with a 78mm gun, in no time, surveying the passing vehicles like a victorious warrior.

“Warfare seems to fascinate you,” remarked Mita, perhaps a wee bit disappointed over my avid interest in armaments and men in uniform.

“It is not warfare, but the courage of those who fight to defend their country that overwhelms me,” I corrected my soft-hearted wife.

The charming receptionist at the entrance to the museum explained to us, briefly, the layout of the two-storied museum that housed weapons as varied as rhinoceros-hide shields brought to Bahrain by Africans, swords made out of finest Damascus steel, Portuguese muskets and modern automatic rifles.

The giant wall paintings in the main hall, as soon as we entered the museum, transported us back to an era more than two hundred years ago as they re-enacted battle scenes with other regional powers. Even Mita was captivated by the colourful paintings of flaming battleships and warriors clashing in the shallow waters of Juffair.

“It is not warfare, but the courage of those who fight to defend their country that overwhelms me,” I corrected my soft-hearted wife.

Sound effects that accompanied scenes of war exercises, depicted by life size models of present-day soldiers in battle gear, sent my adrenalin racing. I could almost feel the heat of battle, as I crouched next to the men deciphering radio messages inside a tent lit by a kerosene lantern.  Models of helicopter gunships and fighter jets, as also those of war-ships guarding Bahrain’s waters and missiles, made up an awesome sight.

The Documents Room was a treasure trove of information on Bahrain’s history over the last three centuries. Intricate models of the island’s forts did well to bring to light what these structures, which we know as the Police Fort, the Arad Fort, the Bahrain Fort and the Bu Maher Fort today, once looked like.

Standing right next to Sheikh Salman bin Ahmad Al Fatah Fort, commonly known as Riffa Fort, the Military Museum had beckoned me since long. I was glad to have visited it finally, for the place displays Bahrain’s heritage and present day defence capabilities with a precision and splendour that is awe inspiring.

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Chandan Sen Gupta, a Civil Engineer, has been passionate about writing for over a decade. Most of his stories revolve around places he has lived during the course of his work. He can be reached on chandansengupta2001@gmail.com

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