A Taj for martyrs, thanks to ex-Navy man in Kerala | india | Hindustan Times
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A Taj for martyrs, thanks to ex-Navy man in Kerala

It isn’t a world wonder. But it can sure classify as a monument of love and peace. On the lines of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who built the famous Taj Mahal in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, a former naval officer is creating a replica as a tribute to those who’ve laid down their lives for the nation, reports Ramesh Babu.

india Updated: Aug 20, 2009 00:41 IST
Ramesh Babu

It isn’t a world wonder. But it can sure classify as a monument of love and peace.

On the lines of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, who built the famous Taj Mahal in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, a former naval officer is creating a replica as a tribute to those who’ve laid down their lives for the nation.

“Lest we forget, war heroes and victims of terror attacks deserve more,” says A.K.B. Kumar, 58, who is building a memorial for war heroes and terror victims in the coastal city of Alapuzha, 140 km north of Thiruvananthapuram.

Kumar sold his ancestral property to raise money for the memorial named Shanti Mahal (Palace of Peace). Work on the Rs one crore (Rs 10 million) project started in January 2008.

If things go according to plan, the doors of the 42-foot high mini Taj will be opened to people in January 2010.

The monument will have four minarets representing the army, air force, navy and other security forces such as the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

Names of war heroes and victims of recent terror strikes, including those killed in the November 26 Mumbai attacks will be engraved on the walls of the main structure.

Now retired, Kumar served in the Indian Navy as a junior commissioned officer and was stationed on warship during the India-Pakistan war of 1971 in the Bay of Bengal.

“I have seen the worst of war. It is time to say goodbye to war and terrorism. People who visit the monument should go back convinced that both lead to death and destruction,” Kumar said.

These days, Kumar works as a fire and safety engineer with the Kochi Refinery Limited.

Accompanied by his friend N. Radhakrishan, the architect of the project, Kumar visited the original Taj several times to get the nuances of design just right.

Workers at the site were also given miniature replicas of the Taj for inspiration.

“He first told me about the idea of a memorial 10 years ago. We began discussing various themes and sites and finally settled on the Taj,” said Radhakrishnan.

Initially Kumar’s wife and two daughters weren’t exactly thrilled about spending all their family savings on the project. But they later came around.

“I am planning to provide free accommodation and food to families of war heroes who visit the monument. Rare photographs of heroes and the war will be displayed. Everybody is free to visit the monument free of cost,” said Kumar.