The National Monument, Islamabad
The monument is located at the west viewpoint of the Shakar Parian Hills, and is spread over a total area of 2.8 hectares. The high location makes the monument visible from across the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
The idea to to build a national monument was conceived by the Ministry of Culture and the Pakistan Council of Architects and Town Planners (PCATP) was entrusted to design a befitting structure to represent the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. The PCATP organized a national competition around the theme of signifying strength, unity and dedication of the people of Pakistan into an icon representing an independent and free nation. From a total of twenty submissions, three were short-listed. Finally, the design proposed by Arif Masood was selected. The foundation stone was laid on 25 May 2004 and the complex was completed by the end of 2006 for inauguration on 23 March 2007. The total cost incurred was more than Rs.580 million.
The architecture of the monument represents the four provinces and three territories of Pakistan. The structure comprises four blossoming flower petals, built of granite, representing the unity of Pakistani people. From air the monument looks like a star (center) and a crescent moon (formed by walls forming the petals), these represent the star and crescent on Pakistan's flag. The blooming flower shape of the monument represents Pakistan's progress as a rapidly developing country. The four main petals of the monument represent the four provinces (Balochistan, North West Frontier Province, Punjab, and Sindh), while the three smaller petals represent the Northern Areas, Azad Kashmir and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The Monument has been designed to reflect the culture and civilization of the country and depicts the story of the Pakistan Movement, dedicated to those who sacrificed themselves for future generations. The inner walls of the petals are decorated with murals. The central platform is made in the shape of a five-pointed star which is surrounded by a water body. A metallic crescent surrounding the star is inscribed with sayings of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and poetry of Allama Iqbal.
The murals on the inside of large petals are based on Islamic architecture, and were decorated by a team of artists led by Kausar Jahan and Zarar Haider Babri, who spent a total of 119,000 hours on the artwork.The first petal features the Malki Tombs, Shahjahan Mosque, Rohtas Fort, Gawadar, and Faisal Mosque. The second second petal depicts the images of Quiad-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah, Minar-e-Pakistan, Badshahi Mosque, Shila Tunnel, Karakorum Highway and a group of cheering people at Jinnah's public appearance. The third petal reflects Allama Iqbal, the Shah Rukn-e-Alam's Tomb, Mahabat Khan Mosque, Indus Valley Civilization, Lahore Fort and Indus River Delta.
The fourth petal comprises the images of Sheesh Mehal, Lahore, Shalamar Gardens, the Uch Sharif Tomb, Islamia College Peshawar, the Ziarat Residency, the Khyber Pass and a polo match.
Facing the monument, on the right side, down below the stairs stand four pillars, one inscribed with the three cardinal principals of the Quaid (Muhammad Ali Jinnah - founder of Pakistan) "Unity, Faith and Disciple" in english while the other three pillars bear the same in Urdu, one on each. There are a number of beautiful fountains on the main and secondary terraces which give an enchanting look, specially at night. Just opposite the main stair case is the Pakistan Monument Museum.
On weekends, there is a flag lowering ceremony by a smartly turned out contingent of Pakistan Army and the mounted President's Body Guards. The sounding of the Retreat by the buglers atop the building of the Pakistan Monument Museum is an awe inspiring moment. People from the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad flock in great numbers to witness the ceremony. So next time you happen to visit Islamabad, do not miss to visit the Monument and specially the National Flag lowering ceremony.
Related Links: | National Monument (Wikipedia) |
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