Gurkha Recruitment Depot (GRD) and Gallwalla

A potential Gurkha recruit being examined by a Medical Officer at Abbottabad, 1902. (Credit: 6 GR)

When British were in India, Gurkha Gallawallas (recruiters) from the Darjeeling and Gorakhpur recruiting depots were deployed yearly to the hills of Nepal, especially around the time of Dashain festival and harvesting season when more healthy young men were more visible so that the recruiter can pick up the best and less likely to be unsuccessful in a recruitment selection process.

Since joining the Gurkha Brigade was entirely voluntary, it was the persuasion skill of the Gurkha recruiters tested at best.

Usually the Gallawallas (recruiters) used tactics such as his story of world adventure being in the Gurkha Brigade, his new sense of fashion different to villagers, his higher social status of being a Lahure, his well trained manly physical structure, his flattering charm, and of course his higher salary was clearly a visible sign that those young men dreamt of.

Often these men who hadn’t left their villages for the entire life and bored with the dull agricultural life decided to escape – it is because that their parents were reluctant to send their sons far away to unknown places in wars. In the majority, permission from parents wasn’t granted, but it was the personal interest of boys made them escape.

Often a meeting point was discreetly arranged with the recruiter at night. When the night progressed, and their parents slept; under cover of darkness, these men ran away with the help of recruiter for months of the arduous journey to the plain of India.

Upon their arrival at the recruiting depot, they are inspected and measured by Recruiting Officers, and then passed to Medical Officer. Once passed by these two officers, they are sent for training.

The failed one was sent back to their village. Recruiters of the same village or district take over the rejected men and are entirely responsible for escorting to them to their homes and for obtaining the village Mukhiya’s seal on the form, with the remark that boys arrive.

The photo seen here is a potential recruit being examined by a Medical Officer in Abbottabad, 1902.

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