Friday, December 18, 2009

Jatiyo Smriti Shoudha (National Martyrs' Memorial) Memorializes the War Dead in Bangladesh

Jatiyo Smriti Shoudha (the National Martyrs' Memorial), also known as the National War Memorial, is situated at Savar, about 35 kilometres (21.7 miles) north-west of the city of Dhaka. It symbolizes the supreme sacrifice made by about three million East Pakistanis during the nine-month War of Independence in 1971. The West Pakistani forces and their local collaborators killed these people -- men, women and children -- in a planned and brutal way. The blood of these martyrs cried to heaven for justice and vengeance. Ultimately, on December 16, 1971, the West Pakistani forces surrendered and East Pakistan emerged as an independent country, known as Bangladesh, in the world map.

After the independence, the government took the initiative of building this memorial. Out of several dozen designs submitted in a competition in 1978, architect Syed Mainul Hossain's design was accepted. In 1982, construction of the main structure, artificial lake, and some other adjacent facilities was completed. The main structure or monument, made of concrete, is 45.7 meters (150 feet) high. Seven isosceles triangular planes form the main monument. When looked straight, either from the front or the back, seven conical structures merge into one and give impression of one solid structure. This author could not yet know the significance of seven isosceles triangles used by the architect. In front of this main structure, several mass graves (created by West Pakistani forces in 1971 in different parts of the country) have been housed. The entire complex covers an area of 34 hectares (84 acres) with a greenery of 10 hectares (24.7 acres) around it.

Foreign heads of state and other dignitaries, on their official visit to Bangladesh, pay tribute to the war dead here as part of their protocol. They also write their valuable comments in the dignitaries' visitor book.

My photos below portray the beauty of the Jatiyo Smriti Shoudha (National Martyrs' Memorial) as viewed from different angles.

Jatiyo Smriti Shoudha (National Martyrs' Memorial)
as seen from various angles

Photos (Savar: 1989) © Jerome D'Costa

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