The Jatiyo Smriti Shoudho (National Martyrs' Memorial) is a monument in Savar (35 km north-west of Dhaka), which has been created to symbolise the bravery and sacrifice of those killed during the 1971 Liberation War.
Plans for the monument were initiated right after the independence, in 1972. Following the site selection, road and land development, a nation-wide design competition was held in June 1978. Following evaluation of the 57 submissions, Syed Mainul Hossain's design was chosen.
His first design, where two columns were being compressed to meet at the top "to evoke a feeling of upward thrust", was rejected along with those submitted by others as they were not to the standard of the competition jury.
There were two competitions all together. The juries were not satisfied with the submissions first time around. So, there was a second competition and it was on this occasion that my design was given the first prize
At the time, Syed Mainul Hossain was working as a consultant in a busy firm. Initially, he built a miniature version of his second design and then built a larger prefabricated model that he submitted for the competition.
I built a 64/1 model, and used to keep looking at it while lying in bed to get the feel of the real structure seen from its base.
When he assembled them on a table I was sure that this was the winning entry, ours were nowhere near his.
Badrul Haider, Architect remembering how friend Mainul Hossain came to his place with all the separated components of his model in his hands on the submission day
The main monument is composed of 7 (L-shaped concrete structures) isosceles triangular planes each varying in size in its height and base, with the middle one being the tallest. The highest one has the smallest base while the broadest base has the lowest height. The planes are folded at the middle and placed one after another.
The highest point of the monument is 150 feet. The arrangement of the planes has created a structure that seems to change its configuration when viewed from different angles. The monument was built using concrete whilst all the other structures and pavements of the complex are made of red bricks.
It is triangular in shape and composed of seven separate triangles that represent the seven historic events that led to liberation, beginning with 1952. The other important dates - 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1969, and 1971 - commemorate significant confrontations between Bengali leaders and the central government and massive strikes in the eastern province. The monument thus includes not only a symbolic reminder of the sacrifice for freedom but also a direct link between 1952 and independence.
When the two digits are added of each of the figure, you get the number 7. This spurred me to go for seven structures", reveals Hossain, an architect who has given this nation one of its original structures.
Built in the middle of a spread of a 34-hectare (84 acres) area, designed by the architect and a freedom fighter Abdur Rashid, it includes everything from the original mass grave and the early bhittiprastar (foundation stone) to helipads, a parking facility, reflective water body in front of the monument, a stretch of wall for mural and areas of gardens. The whole complex ismagain wrapped around by a green belt of 10 hectares (24.7 acre) to separate the zone from the rest of Savar.
The main structure that Hossain designed in 1978 was completed within three months. However, this hasty approach meant that small faults crept in into the construction.
The cracks that run through the structures are the result of lack of experience on the part of the builder and the span of time it was given,” contends Hossain who was for cutting down of costs by sticking to the idea of building thinner structures.
By the end of 1982 the structure stood tall, though cracks were visible in many of the structures.
The artificial lake and other facilities were completed in 1982 - on the eleventh anniversary of Victory Day.
Once one enters the complex through the main gate he or she can see the monument axially but to reach it one has to walk through different ups and downs of pavements and cross an artificial lake by a bridge-all these represent the struggle for independence.
The project was constructed in three phases. The first one, began in 1972, involved in acquiring land and constructing road for the project at a cost of Tk 26 lacs [2,600,000] (approximately £26,000). During the second phase, 1974 - 1982, Tk 3.77 crores [37,700,000] (approximately £3,700) were spent in order to build the mass-graves, helipad, parking space, pavements etc. In the third phase, began in August 1982, the main structure was built apart from the artificial lake, green belt, cafeteria, housing etc. The third phase required Tk 848.65 lacs [84,865,000] (approximately £848,000) . The Public Works Department of the Government of Bangladesh supervised the construction of the project.
It was an experience to see the Savar in its entirety from that height, I was lured to go up and scan the horizon
Syed Mainul Hossain was later decorated with Ekushey Padak award and Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB) honour.
His nephew, Nafees Bin Zafar, is also the first Bangladeshi to win an Oscar in 2008. Nafees was awarded the 'Scientific and Engineering Award' by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, along with his colleagues Doug Roble and Ryo Sakaguchi of Digital Domain for the development of the fluid simulation system.
From its entrance to the monument, one has to walk a straight passage divided into four plazas. The plan for the area was finalised right after independence, though it was during the early years of the autocratic regime of Ershad that the project was hurriedly completed compromising durability and the original plan. says recalling his days as a consultant who periodically visited the sight
The Independence Day of Bangladesh is celebrated annually on 26th March - the day the Declaration of Independence was made by Ziaur Rahman and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (in 1971).
It's a national holiday and day of remembrance for all those who died and suffered during and after the 1971 Muktijuddho.
Swadhinata Dibosh is commonly associated with parades, political speeches, fairs, concerts, and ceremonies, and various other public and private events celebrating the history, and traditions of Bangladesh. TV and radio stations broadcast special programs and patriotic songs. Generally a thirty one gun salute is conducted in the morning. The main streets are decorated with Bengali national flag. Though there are many events, the celebration are usually low-key as the nation reflects on the tragic event of 1971 and remembers all those who suffered during this horrific ordeal.
Most Bengalis wear traditional attires such as panjabis and sarees and sport patriotic bandanas and wrist bands on the day to express their love, pride and devotion to the country. Boys tend to wear t-shirts with famous slogans or prints of the Jatiyo Potaka and other relevant landmark sculptures related to the Liberation War. Other designs take on abstract form - scenes of boats and paddy fields, a bird flying away from a cage depicting freedom, a small child standing in front of a scene of destruction depicting resilience and many such related and relevant artworks are now available in these nationalistic collections. Females can also wear these attire, however, in line with the guidance provided by the Noble Qur'an regarding women clothing (e.g. full body cover in public, loose clothing, etc), they tend to wear sarees and shalwar kameez in green and red with embroidery and other feminine motifs like paisleys.
The green and the red combination is a classic for us Bangladeshis and it will never get old. Simply adorning these colours can spark in any of us a sense of utter pride that no other colour in the world can arouse.
16th December is celebrated annually as Victory Day in Bangladesh as it commemorates the official surrender of Pakistani forces to the Mitro Bahini by signing the Instrument of Surrender on 16 December 1971 in Suhrawardy Uddyan, Dhaka.
Bijoy Dibosh is a national holiday and is celebrated with a pomp in Bangladesh.
India too celebrates Victory Day on 16th December - known as 'Vijay Diwas'. The anniversary of Vijay Diwas is observed across India and most important celebration is held in nation's capital New Delhi where Defense Minister and head of all three wings of the armed forces pay homage at Amar Jawan Jyoti ("the flame of the immortal soldier") - a monument dedicated to unknown dead soldiers - at India Gate.
17th April celebrated as 'Mujibnagar Day' in honour of the achievement and leadership of the first Bengali government-in-exile in the border town of Baidyanathtala, Meherpur District, Kustia. Bhoborpara was later renamed to "Mujibnagar" (City of Mujib) in honour of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The Awami League's programmes of the day include hoisting the national and party flags atop party offices across the country at dawn, placing of wreaths at the portrait of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in his Dhanmondi home in Dhaka which has been converted to a museum ('Bangabandhu Memorial Museum'), and at the Banani graves of Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad and Captain M. Mansur Ali in Dhaka and at the grave of AHM Quamaruzzaman in Rajshahi in the morning.
Located at a distance of about 7 km from the town of Meherpur, Kustia, is the Mujinagar Monument. It's dedicated to the first provisional revolutionary government of Bangladesh who had taken their oath of allegiance at this site on 17 April 1971.
The Muktijuddho Jadughar is a community-funded initiative opened on 22 March 1996 in central Dhaka to commemorate the 1971 Swadhinata Juddho. The museum, managed by a Board of Trustee, is housed in a two-storied building and has 6 galleries containing over 10,000 artefacts from the war. However, the museum can only display 1,300 of these objects due to lack of space, though there are plans for a purpose-built museum to be constructed.
A haunting reminder of recent history. Its a little dusty and poorly curated, but still very compelling and relevant.
It's just a small building with loads of stuffs that were a part of the War. The museum chronicles Bengalis love for their language and fight to keep it, culminating in the 1971 Liberation War and birth of Bangladesh (Bengali country). The museum has over 10,000 objects, photos and newspaper clippings - many are gruesome and difficult to digest - but give an appreciation of Bangladeshis' pride, honour and fight for freedom. It is located near the Shilpakala Academy and fairly straightforward to get there by CNG from Gulshan (100-150 taka).
Visitors to the Liberation War Museum
The galleries on the ground floor begin with covering the early history of Bangladesh and the Indian independence movement against British Raj in Bengal. There's also a large section recording the events of the Basha Andolan, which is regarded as the beginning of the movement for Bangladesh's independence. Other galleries highlight the building of regional conflicts between West Pakistan and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), the rise of Bengali nationalist leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the events of 1971. The display on the 1971 War of Independence is arranged chronologically, with English and Bengali newspaper reports, photographs and various memorabilia.
Several galleries focus on the genocide carried out by the Pakistani army against the Bengali population and highlight the achievement of the Mukti Bahini. Wounded artefacts, such as weapons used by the Mukti Bahini fighters and their personal items are displayed here.
The displays gradually become more graphic and culminate in a room full of personal items of many Mukti Bahini fighters and civilian victims which have been donated by their families after the conflict. Each one comes with a short story on the owner’s life. The room contains a large pile of human skulls and bones retrieved from mass graves of civilians killed by Pakistani forces and some very disturbing photos of rotting corpses with bound hands being eaten by dogs and vultures.
Though the displays might not make for happy holidays, this museum should be a compulsory stop for everyone.
In 2006 the museum was fitted with modern audiovisual and exhibition equipment as a donation from the Japanese government to help preserve the culture and heritage of Bangladesh's independence movement. The Museum is a founding member of International Coalition of Historic Site Museum of Conscience and an institutional member of American Association of Museums.
Address: Liberation War Museum, 05, Segun Bagicha, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Telephone: 0088 02 9559091 and 0088 02 9559092
Official website: www.liberationwarmuseum.org
Opening hours: Open everyday except Sunday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm (in winter it closes at 5.00 pm)
In September 2012, Mukto Asor - a youth organisation working on the Liberation War - published a new quarterly journal dedicated to Bangladesh Liberation War. It's the first of its kind and contains memories of freedom fighters and their families' conditions, stories, poems and essays based on Swadhinata Juddho.
The publication ceremony was held at the Muktijuddho Jadughar on 27 September 2012.
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