A little to the east of Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate, another flame will be lit in honour of martyred soldiers at the country’s first National War Memorial. It will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday in a dedication ceremony and opened to the public, decades after the project was conceptualised in 1961.
Names of the 25,942 soldiers who died in multiple conflicts after Independence have been engraved in gold on granite tablets, and placed on 16 ‘honour walls’ in two concentric circles named ‘Tyag Chakra’. At the centre of the circles is a 15.5-metre tall granite obelisk, where the PM will light an ‘Eternal Flame.
A stone’s throw away is ‘Param Yodha Sthal’ where the 21 winners of the Param Vir Chakra have been honoured with individual bronze busts, with details of their bravery engraved below.
The memorial is being moulded as a “national centre for civilian engagement and reverence for the forces”. Over 250 people will be able to visit it at a time. “The aim is to highlight the sacrifices made by soldiers after Independence… and instill nationalistic pride and patriotism,” said Chief of Integrated Defence Staff Lt-General P S Rajeshwar.
The project was approved by the Cabinet in 2015, and its total cost has been pegged at Rs 176 crore. Objections by the Delhi Urban Arts Commission and the heritage conservation committee on incongruity of the design to the surroundings, and environmental restrictions led to the delay.
On the project’s environmental impact, Major General Alok Raj said 715 trees have been planted as 22 had to be felled.