The monument and war memorial, dedicated to the two finest emotions – love and patriotism, stand side by side in Pul Kanjari Village in Amritsar. Patriotism is in fact, another facet of the former – love for the country. Both require sacrifices.
The monument, amid lush green fields, is not very far from the Wagah border. This was actually a rest-and-recreation spot along Lahore-Amritsar-Lahore route followed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Here, he was charmed by Moran, a Muslim nautch girl – a beauty with brains. The besotted king married her despite opposition from the society and his family in the early nineteenth century.
I stopped at the monument before visiting the border in August 2012. The guard happily opened the locked part of the deserted monument and showed me the war memorial too. The monument has a historic tank (sarovar) and small temple. The dry tank with short parapet walls is surrounded by a flight of steps. Specialty of the tank is its design that meets needs of three groups of the users: animals, men, and women. An open platform in one of the walls of the tank is designed for men. Enclosures with lattice screens ensure privacy for women. The long ramp on one side of the tank is for the convenience of animals.
Some of the frescoes covering the inner walls of the temple built on one of the corners of the tank are still in good condition. The theme of the frescoes is taken from daily life and Hindu mythology, including scenes from samundra manthan – the churning of the ocean of milk for collecting amrit (nectar). These frescoes are framed with floral motifs. The ceiling frescoes, however, feature only floral motifs.
The walls of the square temple consist of sunken panels with each panel having a cusped arch. The fluted dome of the temple is decorated with an inverted lotus flower. Trellis windows allow natural light to brighten the interior. The lime mortar is used for brick walls.
The War Memorial in the neighbourhood commemorates the soldiers who sacrificed their lives while defending Pul Kanjari village during 1971 Indo-Pak war. On one side of the memorial column, a scene from the war is recreated. In the painting, Lance Naik Shangara Singh from the Sikh Regiment is snatching a medium machine gun (MMG) from the Pakistani soldier. He was posthumously awarded Maha Vir Chakra.
Next to the memorial, there is a BSF post guarding the Indo-Pak border. The border fence is visible from the monument. I did not find any difference between the two sides except the thorny fence running through the lush fields.
These monuments are neither popular like Taj Mahal and Jallianwala Bagh nor build on a grand scale. However, I am writing about these for two reasons. First, lesser known stories of unity among people from different religions despite odds should also be remembered to restore faith in humanity. Second, memorials are like temples and visiting them is an opportunity to think about and thank the soldiers who had to lay down their lives for the people of their country.