Rajiv Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi and grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru, was the 6th Prime Minister of India, from 1984 to 1989. He took office after the assassination of his mother, and was himself assassinated by a bomb blast in 1991. This memorial is at the site of his murder, about 25 miles from Chennai (then still called Bombay.)

The Tamil Nadu Government donated 12 acres of land. Construction of the Ninaivakam (memorial) started in 1994; on 10th October, 2003, it was dedicated to the nation.

The memorial has a square raised platform supporting a pink granite statue of Gandhi. His sacrifice is symbolized by a stone of red jasper hematite which marks the place where he fell. This is inserted into a circular plinth which protects the earth upon which his blood was shed. Rising above this is a rock which frames a portrait. On the reverse of this rock is a summary of his life his life.

There are seven granite pillars in the memorial that surround the blast site. These pillars represent the concept of Dharma, Nyaya, Satya, Tyaga, Samridhi, Vigyan and Shanti. These monumental granite structures are carved with swirling patterns, recalling that their foundations were sprinkled with waters bought from the great rivers of every state and filled with sacred soil collected from those places where brave men and women laid down their lives for their beloved India. The seven holy rivers, namely the Ganga, Yamuna, Sindhu, Narmada, Kaveri, Brahmaputra and Godavari are also symbolized by these seven pillars.

Top row, from left: Dharma, Satya, Nyaya
Bottom row: Vigyan, Tyaga, Shanti, Samriddhi
  1. Dharma – The Dharma Chakra tells us that human life must be governed by compassion, generosity and fidelity to duty. 
  2. Satya – The Bodhi Tree stands for Truth, whose leaves are many but whose root is one. 
  3. Nyaya – The Chhatri (umbrella) signifies the rule of Law, which defends our freedoms, delivers justice impartially and protects the weak and vulnerable. 
  4. Vigyan – The Star of Knowledge represents learning and science, which free the mind from prejudice and ignorance and which light our way to living in harmony with one another and with nature. 
  5. Tyaga – The Flames of Sacrifice reminds us of generations who have suffered and toiled in the service of the country to make possible out todays and tomorrows. 
  6. Shanti – The Lotus of Peace stands for non- violence, tolerance, and concord amongst people and nations and kindness towards all fellow creatures. 
  7. Samriddhi – The Bushel of Grain represents progress, abundance and the flowering of human creativity.

There is also a granite bas-relief wall, sculpted by A. Ramachandran in 2003 in the Pallava sculptural tradition of Mamallapuram. Carved on it are Rajiv’s famous words: “I am young and I too have a dream….”

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