The National War Memorial at New Delhi dedicated to the nation is open to the public from February 25, 2019. Fulfilling a six-decade-old demand of Indian armed forces and their veterans for a memorial. The memorial is a tribute to over 26000 soldiers from Indian Army, Air Force and Indian Navy who attained martyrdom in all the wars India fought after Independence in 1947.

Chennai-based architectural practice ‘WeBe Design Lab’ headed by architect Yogesh Chandrahasan won the commission to design the prestigious project through a global design competition held in 2016-17 beating 4276 firms. Built at a cost of Rupees 176 crores, the Military Engineering Services built the memorial in a short span of time of 20 months.

Located near India Gate in the heart of the Lutyens’ Zone of New Delhi Capitol Complex, the National War Memorial is spread over an area of 42 acres at the culminating point of Raj Path on the east. The Raj Path is the strong central axis of the Capitol Complex which connects the India Gate with the Rashtrapati Bhavan and ends in the circular Mughal Gardens in the presidential complex.

Like the Mughal Gardens at the west end of the Raj Path, the Lutyens’ plan envisaged a similar garden on its east-end near India Gate. The site now holds the National War Memorial.

In view the historical importance of this site and the guidelines of the Central Vista Committee, the memorial has been planned as a subterranean facility with built-form not exceeding 1.5m above the ground level. The design of the memorial is thus in sync with the character of the existing open space and aesthetically sanctity of Lutyens’ planning.

National War Memorial’s design is based on ‘Chakravyuha’ ­- an ancient circular battle formation for laying an efficient trap for the enemy. Based on this concept, the architects created an experience of walking amidst soldiers in a war field in different layers. The circular plan of the memorial incorporates five concentric rings of varied elements. These rings serve different functions and convey different emotions

Galleries are aimed to provide information on the history of some important battles fought by the Indian soldiers. The modular self-balancing structural stacking wall system of a height of 1.5m holds granite stone slabs on which names and ranks of martyrs have been engraved are arranged in a linear strip formation. These continuous horizontal bands of stones hold and protect themselves and its occupants within, symbolising discipline, order, and commitment towards the nation. The names of 25942 martyrs are inscribed on the walls of sacrifice. Murals are designed and sculpted by non-other than Ram Sutar – a 93-year-old, and most celebrated sculptor of India. A 15-metre-high obelisk which holds the ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’ at the base and the State Emblem of India at the top marks the epicentre of the memorial.

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