BENGALURU: The first and the only military memorial of independent India was once a must-visit landmark in Bengaluru. But it now lies in neglect, waiting for the Bangalore Development Authority to bring in ‘veeragallu’ or stones that honours matyrs of a war.
According to retired Air Commodore MK Chandashekhar, who initiated the building of this memorial complex at Raj Bhavan Road, its central exhibition hall will be opened and memorial’s management committee will meet regularly once the hero stones reach the complex.
“The BDA is responsible for bringing the veeragallu,” says Chandrashekhar, “except they haven’t even paid the contractor who did the civil work.” The BDA officials were not reachable for comment.
The BDA was to fund its civil work and the exhibits for the hall come from various departments such as the Air Force and DRDO.
Two years ago, a 210-foot flagpole was erected with a 78-foot-long and 48-foot-wide flag next to plaques that carry names of war heroes from various Indian army battalions. Names of more 22,000 soldiers are listed.
The National Military Memorial Park, designed by Nisha Mathew Ghosh and Soumitro Ghosh, was meant as a tribute to the bold and the brave. Today, the gardens are overgrown and its central exhibition hall is locked up.
The underground hall is 8,000sqft with models of warfare technology -- models of Chandrayaan 1’s rocket and of missiles with a 6000-km range. But now its walls look washed out and doors stand closed, one of the gates has a rusty iron bar across it to keep out visitors. Pavements around the complex and that lead towards the flag are overgrown with grass.
Visitors are clueless about this spot’s significance. Fazil Marakkat is on his third visit to this complex and says he likes the spot for its greenery. “But I have no idea why this is here,” he says with a grin. We ask an elderly visitor, hoping for better luck. But he is clueless about its history too. “The place is maintained well,” he says, “according to Indian standards”.
In February 2014, a 15-member trust with Chief Minister as the chairman was formed to oversee its upkeep.
“But the committee is not active now,” says Chandrashekar “and the maintenance was handed over to the home department... The electricity bill was not paid and the power supply was disconnected.”
The only cleaning here is done, says Chandrashekar, by the staff he hired on Sundays.