Bhopal: The authorities in the capital are giving final touches these days to the preparations for the special event being organised in the capital on October 14 for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to dedicate to the nation the Shaurya Smarak (War Memorial) built on Arera Hills overlooking the new Bhopal area.
Shaurya Smarak has been built on a 12.67 acre land at a cost of Rs 410 million. The built up area of the project is approximately 8,000 sqm.
Shaurya Smarak is like a shrine that draws reference from the historical edifices of traditional Indian Temples like those at Ellora, Khajuraho and Modhera. The sanctity of the temple axis is represented in the memorial with the final place for paying homage to those departed in War.
What is paramount is that the memorial has been perceived in a manner that it firstly concerns the feelings of an individual and the entire community appropriately responds to it.
The memorial is located in a city that is endowed with natural water bodies and huge expanse of undulating greens, the memorial ehances these natural attributes. The structure and the entire memorial complex gels with nature and remains in harmony with its immediate context rathe than rising out of it.
The Memorial has been envisaged as a journey through the various experiences of Life, War, Death and the liberation of the Spirit (Victory over Death), all exhibited through an extremely non-archetypal design. The forms, volumes and textures conceived in each of these zones depict, metaphorically, various aspects of this journey. Designed as a quasi-subterranean structure that is more submerged than visible on ground, it is intended to influence the mind and soul of the visitor by being contemplative in spirit and could possibly initiate a silent dialogue between the visitor and the departed.
Life: The arrival of life on earth is symbolised by a public square – the amphitheater of life (ups and downs of life) which are defined by the hard and soft textures of earth – represented by earthen brick steps, grass and water.
War: The circular geometry represents a crater inflicted on earth. Humanity is distressed by calamity, deprivation and destruction. The texture is symbolic of the harshness of war – rough, chiselled local stone.
Death: The small dark cube signifies death – an arena of melancholy, sorrow and lost hopes. It is the opportunity to experience the sudden darkness of death. Because of its darkness and scale there can be hope for Victory Over Death.
Victory over Death: In death, the physical form vanishes; the spirit survives. Being indestructible, the analogy of the eternal spirit has been used in the final experience zone. The installation of a grid of transparent rods illuminated at the base and composed in disciplined military formation are symbolic in their aesthetics.
The Stambh (Pillar)
The 62 feet tall Stambh (pillar), rising from the ground, depicts the life of a soldier – nurtured within an atmosphere of freedom of choice, built on a foundation of inner strength and courage; the guardians of our country are steered by a sense of patriotism. Their sacrifices at various stages of life, and ultimately of life itself, have stemmed from love, ownership and fulfilment achieved by the prosperity of this large family, hence elevating them to a higher power – the sentinels of the almighty. Each granite disc of the Stambh represents this ascent. The earth (Army), water (Navy) and air (Air Force) are represented by the solid granite pillar, the water body and the lightness of the white granite stone pedestal respectively.
Eternal Jyot (lamp)
The traditional lamp, the eternal lamp which is lit in reverence to a martyr, is represented by a state-of-the-art holographic image.
Names of the individual martyrs have been engraved for eternal remembrance and homage, in aluminium plates fixed on glass plaques. These plaques have been placed in close proximity of the Stambh.
The abstract form of the sculpture is intentionally interpretative. It is a ‘Vandana’, a ‘Namaskar’ from the main axis and it also represents a ‘Drop of Blood’ from other view points.
The interpretation centre is designed as a semi-open congregation space with an information display system, explaining the essence of the Memorial and providing a preview to visitors before they physically experience it. It will describe the concept for the design of Shaurya Smarak, provide details of the different zones and the vision behind the design of this non-building Memorial.
As an integrated part of the Memorial, is a War Museum commemorating patriotism and valour of the Indian Armed forces. This Museum is a small showcase of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force containing thematic paintings of ‘shaurya’ (bravery) starting from Mahabharata period to freedom struggle, presenting a cultural history of our time along with paintings based on gallantry award winners.
Environmental Planning and Coordination Organisation (EPCO)
EPCO, an organisation under the Environment Department was entrusted with the job of providing consultancy services for the architectural designing of the Memorial. EPCO conducted a National level competition for selection of Architect and M/s UCJ architecture & environment, Mumbai was selected. Capital Project Administration (CPA) is the Executing Agency for the project. The “bhoomi poojan” (foundation laying) was performed by the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in the presence of the then Army Chief General Deepwak Kapoor on 23 February 2010.