61st Cavalry, one of the only three unmechanized horse cavalry regiments in the world, celebrates September 23 as “Haifa Day” to commemorate the heroic cavalry charge of the Imperial Cavalry Brigade, which consisted of Indian State Forces Cavalry units of Jodhpur, Mysore, Hyderabad and Patiala Lancers. Of these, Jodhpur, Mysore and Patiala Lancers along with state forces Cavalry units of Gwalior, Jaipur (Kachhawa), J&K and Saurashtra Cavalry, were amalgamated to form a new horsed cavalry regiment, named 61 Cavalry in November 1953. Raised at Gwalior , with Lt. Col. Phulel Singh of the Jammu and Kashmir State Forces as the first Commandant, the Regiment was re-designated 61 Cavalry in January 1954. The regiment, with Rajputs, Marathas and Kaimkhanis in equal numbers, was retained in the present form on then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s instructions. Its retention as a horsed cavalry regiment was also significant of the historic tradition of cavalries of many erstwhile Indian dynasties and kingdoms.
Teen Murti, the memorial of three bronze statues of the Indian Cavalry soldiers around a white stone obelisk, with the palatial building next to it, where India’s first Prime Minister resided, gave it the name of Teen Murti Bhavan. Erected in the centre of the roundabout road junction just outside the entrance to Teen Murti Bhavan, the statues were sculpted by Leonard Jennings and the memorial was constructed in to commemorate those killed from the Cavalry of the Indian Army during World War I (1914-1919) in battles fought in Sinai, Palestine and Syria. The three statues represent Sowars (as cavalry and armoured corps soldiers are known) from the three Indian state forces — Hyderabad, Mysore and Jodhpur — together with detachments from Bhavnagar, Kashmir and Kathiawar, which were part of the 15th Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade.
Apart from its operational role of patrolling in the desert sector of Rajasthan, 61st Cavalry has been the mainstay for equestrian training in India’s various military academies and equestrian games like polo, tent pegging, show-jumping, dressage and trick-ridingall of which demand very high standards of horsemanship. The regiment has produced some of the country’s most outstanding polo players Accredited itself with distinction in operational, sports and ceremonial tasks, 61st Cavalry has the unique distinction of being awarded one Padma Shree- to Dafadar Raghuvir Singh- and ten Arjuna awards for excellence in equestrian sports.
One of its late officers, Captain Manjinder Singh Bhinder will be remembered for selflessly saving the lives of 150 people on 14 June 1997, when a raging fire broke out in the Uphaar cinema in New Delhi, which had caught fire. For Bhinder, who died with his wife Jyot-Roop and four-year-old son Ruskin in the inferno, seeing the film, Border, was supposed to be celebration time with teammate, then Lieutenant Rajesh Pattu after their spectacular performance in the National Games equestrian event in Mysore. Bhinder, considered a strong prospect for the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games, took charge after the fire broke out, like a true Army officer to guide panic-stricken women and children through the dim-lit and narrow stairway to safety, till he succumbed.