Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 24 February 2019
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to inaugurate National War Memorial in the heart of national capital on Monday, 25th February. He would lit the eternal flame with a fresh fire. Henceforth, wreath laying and homage ceremony to honour martyrs of post independent India, will be held here instead of Amar Jawan Jyoti (AJJ), which would however, physically remain as it is within India Gate. Individual regiments however, may continue celebrating their raising day as many of them have the World War martyrs and their names are inscribed at India Gate.
In all, names of 25,942 martyrs of Indian armed forces are inscribed on 6 walls of the National War Memorial. The names of martyrs were frozen till the time when the construction started last year. Year 2017 was the cut off for Indian Army, while beginning 2018 was the cut off for Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. Total height of National War Memorial is15.5 meter against 42 meter India Gate. There are busts of 21 Param Vir Chakra awardees. The names of 15 PVCs. who were awarded posthumously are inscribed on honour wall but not of the 6 living legends.“Six soldiers name are not on honour wall, names here are only of martyrs died in action”, said Lt Gen Pannu.
The demand for National War Memorial was pending for decades but could only be met by Modi Government in February 2015. “It’s a tribute by the nation also to the armed forces particularly for our fallen heros and bravest of the brave. This will infused national pride and sense of pride. It is also going to be an inspiration to our next generation said, Lt Gen P S Rajeshwar,Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee.
Lt Gen PJS Pannu, who served as the Chairman of Project Management Team of the National War Memorial said, “It got completed in one year and is a record as the area where war memorial has come up was handed over in February last year”.
During the period, design based on global competition was selected, professionals were hired, art work and murals were done, statues were made with many agencies.
The project management team was the body managed through chief project coordinator, Surendra Parashar. Currently, Maj Gen Alok Raj is the CPC. The memorial construction was supported by project director Col Pankaj Shetty.
India gate was constructed in 1931 in memory of fallen Indian heroes, who served in British Army during WW-1 and first Anglo Afghan war. The names of soldiers came from British Indian Army. Later, in many regiment old tradition become part of Indian Army. Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate was constructed in 1971 after Indo-Pak war to commemorate Indian Armed Forces martyrs.
Construction of National War Memorial underwent a lot of challenges like heavy monsoon, pollution control permits because of which a lot of work had to be stalled. However, all hardships were overcome.
Memorial represents indomitable courage of fallen heroes, names represents even those families, associated with those names and living in far plunged areas. It is also commemoration of unsung soldiers ever since India became independent.
“The space at National War Memorial is enough to accommodate approximately 200 to 250 persons. Public should respect the footfall. So the guided conduct would possibly in groups.
In evening, retreat ceremony will be held before the sunset to pay respect to martyrs.
Overall, National War Memorial is constructed in about 40 acres of area, which could possible be largest in the world in terms of numbers of names of martyrs. Lawn 2 and lawn 3 are merged by closing the road that used to lead to Major Dhyan Chand stadium.
In order to construct National War Memorial, 715 trees were planted, only 22 trees were cut against the permission of cutting 27 trees. The war memorial is differently able friendly, with urban corridors. A new footpath along old footpath is created, besides benches space, a souvenir outlet is made, drinking water, convenience, first aid, war memorial app, help desk, digital interactive info panels, drop off and pick up zones and wheel chairs are some of the facilities created
There is no entry free to visit National War Memorial.
The timings to visit National War Memorial are:
In Summer: 09:00 am to 7:30 pm
In Winter: 09:00 am to 6:30 pm
Wreath laying service will be every day before sunset. While change of guard will be observed at every Sunday at 09:50 am.
Public may communicate their suggestions at:
Directorate National War Memorial and Museum,
HQ Integrated defence staff
National War Memorial: A Peep into History
- India Gate. The iconic India Gate in Delhi was constructed in 1931 to commemorate the Martyrs of India during World War I and the Third Anglo – Afghan War. Of over 83,000 Indians who laid down their lives, India Gate bears 13,516 names, etched all over the structure. It has become a must visit monument for tourists to New Delhi.
- Amar Jawan Jyoti . An inverted bayonet with a helmet structure was installed under the arch of India Gate in January 1972 to commemorate India’s victory in the India —Pakistan War of 1971 and as the Nation’s tribute to our brave soldiers who had laid down their lives. Wreaths have been laid at Amar Jawan Jyoti ever since by various dignitaries including foreign dignitaries on befitting occasions.
- Post Independence Era Sacrifices by Armed Forces. After our independence, Indian Armed Forces have been involved in many conflicts and have participated in a number of operations. India continues to engage in counter-terrorism operations due to the Proxy War being waged from across the borders where a number of our soldiers have laid down their lives in the line of duty. To recognise these sacrifices, some memorials are built across the country. But no memorial at the national level had been dedicated to the sacrifices of men and women of the Armed Forces. Thus arose the need for a memorial at the national level.
- Genesis. The requirement to construct a National War Memorial had been under deliberation since 1961. After due deliberations the Union Cabinet on 07 October 2015 approved its construction. An area East of the India Gate around the Canopy at ‘C’ Hexagon in New Delhi was considered to be suitable for construction.
- Building Process. Global competition 2016-17. Shri Yogesh Chandrahsan of to WeBe a design for the Memorial was held in eBe Design Lab Chennai won the competition and was appointed Project ‘ roject Consultant. Necessary sanctions from statutory authorities were taken. A Detailed Project Report was prepared and Mis NCC Ltd was awarded the contract. The Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (HQ IDS) steered the project on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. The monument stands dedicated to the Armed Forces on behalf of the nation by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25 February 2019.
THE MONUMENT AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE
- War Memorial. A war memorial is a building, monument, statue or an edifice to celebrate a war or victory or to commemorate those who died or were injured in war. It provides an opportunity to the visitors to develop a conscious connect with the site, with the institution and people in whose memory the structure is built. The memorial attempts to invoke a deep and moving experience and serves as symbol of inspiration for future generations.
- Significance. Since-Independence, more than 25,000 soldiers of the Indian Armed Forces have made the supreme sacrifice to defend the sovereignty and integrity of the country. The National War Memorial thus represents the gratitude of a nation to its Armed Forces. The Memorial will help strengthen the sense of belonging, high moral values, sacrifice and national pride in our citizens. It shall stand testimony to the sacrifices made by our soldiers during various conflicts, United Nations Operations, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response Operations since Independence. It will showcase rich military traditions of our Armed Forces as a shining example of selfless service to the nation.
The memorial complex is in harmony with the existing layout and symmetry of the majestic Rajpath and Central Vista. Solemnity of the ambience is maintained with an emphasis on landscaping and the simplicity of architecture. Apart from the main memorial, there is dedicated area for busts of soldiers who have been conferred with `Param Vir Chakra,’ the nation’s highest gallantryaward. The design of the main memorial exemplifies that supreme sacrifice made by a soldier in the line of duty not only makes him immortal but also depicts that the spirit of a soldier remains eternal. The memorial has distinct scheme of concentric circles:
Amar Chakra’ Circle of Immortality: This has an Obelisk with Eternal Flame. The flame symbolises the immortality of the spirit of fallen soldiers with the assurance that the Nation will never forget their sacrifices.
Veerta Chakra’ Circle of Bravery: A covered gallery that exhibits six murals crafted in bronze depicting valiant battle actions of our Armed Forces.
Tyag Chakra’ Circle of Sacrifice: The circular concentric walls of honour, which symbolise the ancient war formation `Chakravyuh’. The walls are clad with granite tablets where an independent granite tablet is dedicated to each soldier who has made the supreme sacrifice where his name is etched in golden letters.
`Rakshak Chakra’ Circle of Protection: The row of trees in the Rakshak Chakra is a reassurance to the citizens of the country about their safety against any threat, with each tree representing the soldiers who ensure the territorial integrity of the Nation, round the clock.
PARAM YODHA STHAL
The Param Yodha Stahal is dedicated to the nation’s highest gallantry award ‘Param Vir Chakra’ (PVC) recipients and designed with well laid out pathways, landscaping, individual busts in bronze of all 21 recipients till now.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.