Constructed with the idea to symbolize the unity of the country and dedicated to the people who sacrificed their today for a better tomorrow, the Pakistan Monument located on the western Shakarparian Hills in the Capital City of Islamabad is a national monument of Pakistan that also serves as a heritage museum.
The plan for a National Monument was first envisioned in 2002, and in 2005 the Council of Architects and Town planners was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture of Pakistan to organize a competition to select a design for an iconic national monument. From a total of 21 designs submitted by the architects from across the country, only three were shortlisted by the Council, and finally, the design submitted by Arif Masoud won the nod.
While the foundation stone of the monument was laid in 2004, the construction was completed in 2006, under the supervision of the project engineer Syed Mahmud Khalid. The unique monument complex, covering a huge area of 2.8 hectares of land and surrounded by lush green gardens, was ceremoniously inaugurated on 23 March 2007.
The design of the massive blooming flower petal-shaped granite structure of the Pakistan Monument, comprising of four large petals and placed on an elevated platform, is rooted in the rich traditional muqarnas, sometimes called honeycomb vaulting, of Mughal architecture. The resultant petal-shaped structure, emphasizes the importance of unity and togetherness of the people of Pakistan, and its four large petals represent each of the four provincial cultures of the Punjab, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The big four petals are accompanied by three smaller petals which represent Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. All the seven individual petals stand together in unison to form the nation of Pakistan and protecting the star and the crescent of the flag of Pakistan. The star of the flag in the monument is created in a shiny black granite with golden stars, while the moon crescent is made from stainless steel with inspirational writings of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and Allama Iqbal, whose poetry in the Urdu language is considered among the greatest of the twentieth century.
The inner walls of the gigantic petals are decorated with murals created by a team of artists led by Zarar Haider Babri and Kausar Jahan. The team untiringly worked for around 119,000 hours to create the magnificent murals illustrating the story of the independence of the country, along with the important landmarks of Pakistan.
The stunning murals on the first petal illustrate the beautiful Faisal Mosque, located on the foothills of Margalla Hills in Islamabad, the 16th-century Rohtas Fort, near the city of Jehlum, Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta, Makli Necropolis in Sindh, and the port city of Gwadar, while the second petal features the images of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Fatima Jinnah, along with a crowd watching Quaid-e-Azam delivering a speech, the famous Badshahi Mosque and Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore, and the Karakorum Highway. The artwork on the third petal of the monument includes the famous Mahabat Khan Mosque in Peshawar, the Tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam in Multan, Indus River Delta, and the massive Lahore Fort, along with the image of Allama Iqbal, the National Poet of Pakistan. The last and the fourth petal is decorated with the illustrations of the Islamia College in Peshawar, the residence of Quaid-e-Azam in Ziarat, Shalimar Bagh in Lahore, sketches of the shrines and tombs in Uch Sharif, the Khyber Pass, and many more.
In addition to a large fountain in the middle of the granite petals, the Pakistan Monument also includes four pillars displaying the words Faith, Unity, and Discipline both in Urdu and English. Apart from that, there is also a wall with hand impressions of the designer, architect, engineer, artists, and all the common workers, who had contributions to the creation of the huge and iconic landmark of the country.
Next to the monument, there is a circular terrace with beautiful archways that serves as a view point, offering the picturesque panoramic view of the City of Islamabad. There is also a wax museum in the huge complex of the Pakistan Monument, depicting the advent of Islam in the region, the splendour of the Mughal period, and the history of the creation of Pakistan. The museum also houses an impressive reference library, an audio-visual archive containing historical speeches and other national records, a conference hall, and an auditorium with a seating capacity of 62 people. The main structure of the monument and the museum are connected by a large plaza known as the Freedom Plaza.
The stunning Pakistan Monument in Islamabad is a popular tourist destination in the country that receives around half a million visitors every year.