Ho Chi Minh City: President Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday visited the historic 'Cu Chi' tunnels - one of the 'most bombed, shelled and devastated areas' of world military history located near this Vietnamese city.
The tunnels, which are one of the most visible and historical vestiges of Vietnam's national liberation war, are located about 70kms from here.
On the last leg of his four-day state visit to Vietnam, President Mukherjee had arrived in this historic city yesterday from the national capital Hanoi.
After visiting the tunnels, Mukherjee wrote on the visitors' book that it was a fascinating visit and it has left an indelible impression on him.
"I marvel at the astuteness, tenacity and courage of the heroic cadres who lived and operated from these tunnels," he wrote.
The tunnels are located in Phu My Hung Commune, Cu Chi district, and they are a network consisting of over 200km of tunnels connected with one another like a cobweb.
Inside the tunnels are kitchens, food and ammunition storage caches, medic care chambers, meeting chambers, commanding rooms among others.
From this underground village, the revolutionary forces staged the 1968 general offensive and the Ho Chi Minh campaign in April 1975 to liberate South Vietnam.
The tunnels facilitated communication and coordination between the Viet Cong controlled enclaves, isolated from each other by South Vietnamese and American land and air attacks.
The secret underground passages also allowed the Viet Cong to mount surprise attacks wherever the tunnels went- even within the perimeters of the US military base at Dong Du- and to disappear suddenly into hidden trapdoors without a trace.
After ground operations against the tunnels claimed large numbers of US causalities and proved ineffective, the Americans resorted to massive firepower, eventually turning Cu Chi's 420 sq km into what some have called 'the most bombed, shelled, gassed, defoliated and greatly devastated area in the history of warfare'.
The tunnels are visited every years by lakhs for domestic and international visitors, school children and military enthusiasts.