In the name of Mahatma

Gandhi Sangrahalaya in Patna.  Mohan Prasad

The memorial will be second of its kind in the country, as presently only Andhra Pradesh has a stupa named after the Father of the Nation. Situated atop the Gandhi Hills, also known as Orr Hills in Vijaywada, the memorial is 15.8 metres (52 feet) tall. Going by this yardstick, Bihar will have the tallest stupa of Mahatma Gandhi.

“It will be 79 feet because Gandhiji died at the age of 79,” said Razi Ahmad, secretary of the Gandhi Sanghralya. “The stupa similar to Qutub Minar will showcase the entire history of Bihar right from the Revolt of 1857 to 1947 and will mark each year of Gandhi’s life,” the veteran Gandhian said. “The memorial will come up on the sprawling campus of
Gandhi Sanghralaya, located on the banks of the Ganga,” he added.

Bihar occupies a special place in the life and history of Gandhiji who started his satyagrah (also called asahyog andolan or non-cooperation movement) from Champaran in the northern part of the State.

Ten years after Bapu was assassinated, the Bihar Gandhi Sanghralaya Smarak Samiti
was formed in Patna in 1958. However, it was in 1966 when a proposal was made to construct a memorial in the name of Mahatma.

“The blueprint of the stupa was ready as early as 1966 and the design finalised in a year. But no one ever took any interest. Recently, when the idea was once again mooted before Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, he immediately gave his consent to erect a world-class memorial in Bapu’s name,” said Ahmad.

The stupa will have a spiral staircase inside, with the history of Bihar depicted on its walls. The exterior walls of the stupa have been designed to display the murals of Gandhi’s satyagraha days. Some of them will depict leaves, symbolising peace, Gandhi’s charkha, village huts and six pagodas as also a 79-inch long etching symbolising the six non-cooperation movements during Gandhiji’s time.

The design of the 79-foot stupa was prepared by SG Kar, architect of Shanti Niketan, RP Verma of Patna Engineering College (who gave the engineering concept) and veteran artist Upendra Maharthi, who designed the exteriors of the stupa.

The memorial was initially planned to be constructed at Motihari, the headquarters of Champaran, from where Gandhiji had launched indigo movement against the Britishers.

“But lack of communication and transport to the place tilted the balance in favour of Patna. During earlier days, one had to cross the Ganga in a steamer before embarking on journey to North Bihar,” said Ahmad.

The government, after giving its nod in principle, has to meet another deadline as six years from now it will celebrate 100 years of Gandhi’s visit to Bihar. “On April 10, 1917, Mahatma Gandhi visited Bihar for the first time and stayed at the residence of Syed Mehmood, the first education minister of Bihar,” revealed the octogenarian Gandhian.

A real tribute to the Father of the Nation will be in the form of tallest memorial being constructed by 2017, the centenary year of Mahatma’s Bihar visit. And that should not be a tall order!       

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