PM Today Opens National War Memorial Remembering 25,942 Soldiers Who Died Since 1947
In February 2018, when large blue construction walls came up around India Gate along with signage to mark the site of National War Memorial, the curiosity of people peaked each time they crossed the area. The memorial will be dedicated to the nation on Monday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi lighting the eternal flame.
Spread over 40 acres, the complex is a commemoration of the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers since Independence with the names of 25,942 martyrs etched in stone forever. It will also serve as the place for future ceremonies for armed forces, while the general public can pay their respects to the fallen through interactive electronic panels that will soon be set up. The memorial will also have other features, such as artificial lighting in the evenings, and a walking plaza.
Built keeping in mind the existing layout and symmetry of Rajpath and the central vista, an air of solemnity exists — provided through landscaping — and each step you take inside aims to highlight the sacrifices made in the past. The design, meanwhile, has been chosen to present a modern yet sombre look.
The main structure has been built in the form of four chakras, each signifying different values of the armed forces, with the eternal flame and obelisk located in the inner-most chakra (also called Amar Chakra). The obelisk stands at a height of 15.5 metres and is visible even from a distance as one enters the complex. Surrounding it is Veerta Chakra with six bronze murals depicting different battle actions. Each mural weighs between 600kg and 1,000kg. Tyag Chakra which surrounds it has been made entirely of granite bricks, each bearing the name of a fallen soldier since Independence. While at present 25,942 names exist on these walls, there is scope to add more names, officials said.
“The cut-off list of names to be added to the walls was 2018. We will periodically get more tablets inscribed after more names are compiled,” said Lt General PS Rajeshwar, chief of Integrated Defence Staff.
The final chakra — Rakshak Chakra — surrounds the other three and consists of over 600 trees that will act as a wall and represent the soldiers who protect the country.
Adjacent to the main complex lies a tribute to the 21 Param Vir Chakra awardees with each recipient honoured by a bronze bust surrounded by a lush green patch, complete with pathways and informative plaques on the courage they displayed during battle.
Officials said the entry to National War Memorial complex is free for all, but the main area and Param Yodha Sthal will have timing restrictions and will also play host to retreat ceremonies every evening. “While the public can take part in these, a certain decorum needs to be maintained. The capacity of the war memorial also needs to be respected. At any particular time, only about 250 people can be accommodated in the main area. We expect the public to show respect to the soldiers, both dead and alive, and maintain order. National War Memorial will be a national pride now and will not only make each soldier proud, but allow every citizen to pay their respects as well,” said Rajeshwar.
Major General Alok Raj, the chief project coordinator, said the work was finished in just about a year after the project site was handed over to them. The design is based on global standards for which artwork specialists were roped in. “Amar Jawan Jyoti will have its own significance and this will be the place where every person can pay homage and respect to our soldiers. Interactive panels and shops with souvenirs are also part of the plan,” he added.
Boards installed at the complex notify that no street vendors or hawkers will be allowed to operate there while the general public should maintain “dignified and respectful conduct”.