Kunwar Singh statue relocated, CM to inaugurate today
Patna: An imposing equestrian statue of Veer Kunwar Singh, known for his heroics in the 1857 Mutiny, has been shifted from a public roundabout to the historic Hardinge Park here, which will be inaugurated tomorrow.
The bronze statue that earlier stood at the R-Block traffic island shows Singh astride a horse, holding its reins in one hand and brandishing a sword in the other.
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' celebration starting April 23.
The statue was recently relocated to the 102-year-old park and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is scheduled to inaugurate it tomorrow during a function at the historic garden.
The statue has been refurbished and installed on a multi-tiered pedestal in front of the main entrance of the sprawling garden.
Surrounding the pedestal are four walls on which the life of Singh as an 1857 hero has been depicted on sandstone panels. "The old rock garden has been given a fresh coat of paint to harmonise with the sandstone colour of the murals. Animal figures have been depicted on the rock tableau to represent nature. A new fountain has been built in front of the tableau," a senior official told PTI.
The Hardinge Park, Patna's first public park, is spread over 22 acres and 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, before being subjected to years of neglect post-independence.
In 1921, Rameshwar Singh, the 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.While the Viceroy's statue created by noted British sculptor Herbert Hampton, was dumped in the late 60s at the Patna Museum, the old pedestal was knocked down late last year.
Hardinge' statue 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 'Hardinge Park' by old-timers and locals.
Incidentally, Singh's statue, which earlier stood on a pedestal at the R-Block roundabout, neighbouring the iconic park, was inaugurated in the 90s by the then chief minister Lalu Prasad. The traffic island also had a gushing fountain.