Road to India
April 6, 2017
A new online exhibition at the Google Cultural Institute internet platform recounts the remarkable story of Polish refugees who made their way to India during World War II.
When an army of Polish troops led by Gen. Władysław Anders was evacuated out of the Soviet Union to Iran in 1942, the soldiers brought along more than 40,000 Polish civilians who had been deported to the Soviet Union from Soviet-occupied Poland. Around 6,000 of the Poles went on to find shelter and temporary homes in India, settling in the Indian villages of Balachadi and Valivade.
The online exhibition, entitled The Road to India: Polish Settlements in Balachadi and Valivade, shows what life was like for the Polish community in the unlikely setting, looking at such aspects of it as schools, cultural life and scouting organizations.
The Road to India exhibition also sheds light on relations that developed between the Polish and Indian communities over the six years that the Polish refugees spent in the remote country.
The exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the encounter of two communities which, so different in terms of culture, language and religion, were one day brought together by the shared, tragic experience of World War II. The life of the Polish expats in India is documented in the exhibition through photographs, maps and official records. Visitors can also see an excerpt from a history textbook copied by hand, a traditional Polish Easter palm made by a young boy from Balachadi, and a Polish girl scoutís diary with entries made by Indian boy scouts while India was celebrating its independence.
The exhibition is available in a Polish- and English-language version at: https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/exhibit/FQKCQq9LDKemIg