Chapparchiri has a special mention in the history of Sikhs as it was the place where Baba Banda Singh Bahadur gained victory in a decisive battle against the commander of mughal army Wazir Khan. This victory led to the khalsa uprising and is seen as one of the eminent victories of sikh forces. Moreover, this was the only battle in a long span of seven centuries that marked the victory of Indian people and therefore is often regarded as the first war of Indian independence.
Designing a memorial with such a strong and significant backdrop was a challenge in itself. But the architect , Renu Khanna took the challenge in her stride. Fascinated by the intriguing history of the place , she decided to imbibe it in her design.
The aim was to recreate the nuances of the time of the war and the strategies used.
It is said that when Wazir khan came to know that Banda bahadur has arrived ,he chose a site for war which was plain on one side and had rough terrain on the other.
Keeping the comfortable plain site for himself ,he left the rough terrain for Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s forces
When Banda Bahadur came he climbed the highest mound and looked at enemy’s layout and decided his war strategy which was that he allowed the enemy to come forward.
The soldiers on horses faced the chappar and fell down in it and then when they got up they got stuck up in the jharis (group of bushes)and there were tibbas (mounds) behind which the sikh soldiers were hiding and they did gorilla attack on them and hence won the war.
The architect in turn has recreated the whole landscape of Chappar, Chiri & Tibbas. All the buildings are under the Tibbas which have earth and Grass above and statues of generals on top which includes that of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur and his five generals.
Apart from recreating the war scene ,she also wanted to push the boundaries and create an art which would leave an imprint on the minds and hearts of people for ages to come.
This thought helped her attain the unachievable. She planned to design a victory tower in the centre of the site.
Her vision bears fruit as while walking past the entrance of the memorial, one’s gaze just gets stuck at the towering Fateh Burj in the background of a sprawling lawn. The monumental scale victory tower is 328’ high with its three levels of victory walks. It is the tallest tower in the country and the 8th tallest in the world.
A sikh dome is placed on top with Khanda and Kalash. There are triangular openings which signify the holes in the walls which used to be there for taking out guns and canons. Interestingly, the first slab of this monumental victory tower is laid at 70’. It has arches which are on the increasing order towards the sikh side. The imposing monument is an architectural marvel glorifying the valour and the victory of the sikh troupes .
The conflict of the war and the celebration of the victory have been balanced perfectly in the structure which has been adjudged as one of the outstanding structures of the country.
USE OF ELEMENTS
The overall ambience of this complex is attained signifying victory is created by water , the channelized winds between the Tibbas , monumental spaces of victory tower and a lush green landscape which finally resonates an architecture of happiness and victory. This big pond or the chappar besides calming the mind also creates a magical reflection of the victory tower and the mound with Baba Banda Singh Bahadur’s statue it which beautifully culminates towards a picture point where one can take his own complete picture along with water, tower and mound with their reflection ,all in one frame.
An open air theatre faces the victory tower and it is planned for creating interesting sound and light shows on stark and bold walls of the victory tower. Colour wash lights have been used which can create one lakh combination of lights. The structure illuminated with sodium lamps and colourful lights makes it an amazing spectacle to watch .
USE OF STEEL
The work was allotted in Jan 11 and the deadline of inauguration was given on Nov. 11. The architect did not want to compromise on aesthetics and concept.
To reduce the time of construction she decided to go in for a hybrid structure. i.e steel with RCC. The central core having lift and staircase was of RCC which was taken from ground 0 to top in 40 days span through slip form shuttering.
Meanwhile, Steel beams connected the steel columns to central core. Roller deck sheet was used as a permanent shuttering for r.c.c slab. Without compromising on aesthetics the walls of 1st level were kept curvilinear so it was done in RCC cast in situ but all above walls were pre casted and fixed with the help of steel frames.
The dome above was fabricated in steel with fibre glass envelope. On the 10th month the dome was lifted and placed on the top.
Images during the time of construction; section of the victory tower :