Bhopal Martyr memorial’s soul arresting design

Bhopal Martyr memorial’s soul arresting design

Designed by UCJ Architecture & Environment

Shaurya Smarak provides a precinct for paying tribute and homage to all those from Madhya Pradesh who have laid down their lives in service of the Nation’s security.

The tribute paying place is a convergence of the memorial, the stambh (pillar), eternal flame, red sculpture and the War museum.

THE MEMORIAL: Being conceived as a shrine, the design takes reference from the historical edifices of traditional Indian Temples. The sanctity of the temple axis with sanctum sanctorum is represented in the memorial with the final space for paying homage to those departed in War.

The Memorial has been envisaged as a journey through the various experiences of Life, War, Death and the liberation of the Spirit (Victory over Death), all exhibited through a non-archetypal design. The program dives into the site rather than rising out of it. The forms, volumes and textures conceived in each of these zones depict, metaphorically, various aspects of this journey; it is intended to influence the mind and soul of the visitor by being contemplative in spirit and initiate a silent dialogue between the visitor and the departed.

  • Life: The arrival of life on earth is symbolized by a public square – the amphitheater of life – defined by the hard and soft textures of earth – represented by earthen brick, grass and water, enhanced by music inspired by the giver of life itself – breath.
  • War: The circular geometry represents a crater inflicted earth. The texture is symbolic of the harshness of war – through rough, chiseled local stone – and the deafening sounds of canons, gunshots and screams are reminiscent of those at battle.


  • Death: The small dark cube signifies death – an arena of melancholy, sorrow and lost hopes. It is the opportunity to experience the sudden darkness and silence of death.
  • Victory over Death: In death, the physical form vanishes; the spirit survives. Being indestructible, we use the analogy of the eternal spirit in the final experience zone where tribute is paid. The installation of a grid of transparent rods composed in disciplined military formation is symbolic in its aesthetic.


THE STAMBH: The 19.0m tall Stambh, rising from the ground, depicts the life of a soldier – built on a foundation of inner strength and courage; the guardians of our country are steered by patriotism, elevating them to a higher power. Each granite disc of the Stambh represents this ascent. The earth (Army), water (Navy) and air (Air Force) are represented through the solidity of the black granite Stambh, the water body and the lightness of the white pedestal respectively.

ETERNAL FLAME: The Indian traditional eternal lamp jyot, which is lit in reverence to a martyr, is represented by a state of-the-art holographic image.


RED SCULPTURE: The abstract form of the sculpture is intentionally interpretative. It is a “Namaskar” or hands folded in respect, from one axis, and also a “Drop of Blood” in reverence of the sacrifice of life, from other viewpoints.


THE MUSEUM: As an integrated part of the Memorial, a War Museum commemorating patriotism and valour of the Indian armed forces has also been designed. It is a showcase of thematic paintings and visuals of “shaurya” or valour from the Mahabharata period to more recent wars. The Museum also houses a 50-seat mini-theatre.


Architects: UCJ Architecture & Environment

Project Name: Shaurya Smarak

Location: Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Status: Completed in 2016

Architect in Charge: Uttam C. Jain

All project images are © Architecture firm/Design firm/Student and Photographer mentioned respectively. The text is provided by the Architecture/Design firm/Student which may have been edited as per the editorial discretion.