Patna, Apr 15 (PTI) An imposing equestrian statue of Veer Kunwar Singh, known for his heroics in the 1857 Mutiny, will be shifted from a public roundabout to the historic Hardinge Park here ahead of the grand Vijay Diwas’ celebrations, officials said.
The bronze statue shows Singh in life-size astride a galloping horse, holding its reins in one hand and brandishing a sword in the other.
Installed on a pedestal in the busy R-Block roundabout, neighbouring the 102-year-old park, it was inaugurated in the 90s during the regime of then chief minister Lalu Prasad. The traffic island also had a gushing fountain.
Preparations are currently underway at the park and a pedestal is being built at the focal point of the sprawling garden in front of the main entrance. Diagonally surrounding the pedestal are four walls on which life of Singh as an 1857 hero has been depicted on sandstone panels, a senior official told PTI.
The shifting of the statue has been necessitated as the traffic island, near the Patna Secretariat, has been dismantled, and made way for concrete pillars on its periphery for a flyover project currently underway, obscuring the statue.
One flank of which would also pass in front of the park on the Hardinge Road.
As a 160th-year tribute to his valour shown during the First War of Independence against the British colonial rule, the Bihar government has planned a three-day Vijay Diwas’ celebrations from April 23-25.
Commemorative functions would also be held in Jagdishpur village, his native place in Bhojour district of the state.
The chief minister will inaugurate the relocated statue at Hardinge Park on April 23 as part of the Vijay Diwas’ celebrations. A laser show depicting Singh’s life would also be held in the evening in the lawns of the park on the occasion, the official said.
Born in the late 18th century in the then Shahabad region, he staged a rebellion against the British forces in 1857, nearing the age of 80.
He died in 1858 and his legend is still told and retold through literature, songs and folklore.
Incidentally, the Hardinge Park, Patna’s first public park, spread over 22 acres, was opened on January 31, 1916 by then Lt Governor of Bihar and Orissa Sir Edward Gait.
It was named in honour of Lord Hardinge, the then Viceroy of India, who was instrumental in creation of Bihar as a separate province in 1912.
It enjoyed a period of considerable glory, becoming a veritable symbol of Patna, besides Golghar.
In 1921, Rameshwar Singh, ruler of the erstwhile Darbhanga Raj, even hosted a garden party in the park for the Prince of Wales during his visit to the city.
At the opening, the then Lt Governor of the province had also unveiled a five-tonne life-size bronze statue of Lord Hardinge, in full Durbar regalia.
But the statue was dumped at the Patna Museum in the late ’60s. It was installed again in the ’90s on a platform in a corner of the museum’s lawns.
Subsequently, the name of the park was rechristened to Shaheed Veer Kunwar Singh Azadi Park’ but it is still referred to as Hardinge Park’ by old-timers and local people.
Late 2017, one of the last remnants of the Raj-era landmark — the pedestal on which the Hardinge’s iconic statue once stood, was dismantled.
The Viceroy’s statue was made by noted British sculptor Herbert Hampton.
Ironically, the new pedestal is being constructed right in front of the spot where the old pedestal once stood.
A few steps that led to it is all that stands now in the old park, besides the two Ramgarh Raj Pavilions, from the pre-Independence era.
The four old fountains were replaced by new ones during the park’s redevelopment a few years ago. It had suffered decades of neglect before that period.
The park is a very important landmark and so we have beautified it And, the outer side of the four walls around the pedestal would be adorned by terracotta artworks themed on Kunwar Singh, the official said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.