Col J P Singh
Maharaja Gulab Singh and Gen Zorawar Singh were the legendary warriors who created history by their unprecedented Trans-Himalayan conquests that the world acclaims them as greatest Military Warriors of 19th century. With a MONUMENTAL glory attached to their name and the aura they carried world over, very little of it was known in their own homeland. But that now is a history. Sculptor Ravinder Jamwal has unravelled the mystery through his creative art.
Public perception is that our emperors, warriors and other icons are well known pan India but little known in J&K because their existence and contributions in the making of Jammu & Kashmir and taking it forward was obliterated from the books and public imagination intentionally. If their stories had been painful or shameful by any stretch of imagination and then hidden, it would have made sense. It was done purposely by creating artificial clouds to hide the sun to keep the people in darkness. Today we are in the Amritkal. Artificial clouds have been blown. Maharaja Gulab Singh’s vision in crafting a vast and diversified landmass, into a biggest Princely State in North thus providing tremendous strategic depth to our motherland is thundering in the air, more-so because it has been showcased by Ravinder Jamwal by crafting a statue of the founder ruler of J&K which was installed at Lakahanpur, the entry point to J&K. It was unvelied on 11 March 2022. It is a 20ft mounted statue which stands on a 20ft pedestal. Travellers & onlookers get mesmerised on the very first sight of this remarkable statue. Similarly bust of legendary General Zorawar Singh infront of Zorawar Auditorium in Jammu University stirs the imaginations of scholars & students.
With fast growing urges in society during Amritkal, new chapters of our iconic heroes are being opened. Amritkal is devoted to those people who have been in the forefront in India’s evolutionary journey and those who had the power and potential to change India for the better. To implement aspirations of Amritkal, Dr. Jitendra Singh, minister in PMO inaugurated Maharaja Gulab Singh’s statue at Lakhanpur and Manoj Sinha, LG inaugurated Gen Zorawar Singh’s Bust-Statue infront of Zorawar Auditorium in the University. These majestic Statues have been crafted by Ravinder Jamwal. He is a native of Birpur near Jammu whose more than 80 sculptures have been installed pan India. He is post graduate in Portraiture from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda.
Statues are installed to commemorate historical figures or cultural icons who have made significant contributions to the society. They are symbols which carry a meaning. These symbols are instruments of communication and knowledge. They serve as a time capsule between the past, present and future. When we have a renowned sculptor in Jammu why shouldn’t his work be recognised, is a message for the society and the media. He is not just a sculptor but an embodiment of pride for Dogras. Sculptor Ravinder Jamwal is known in the intellectual and cultural segments of society but little known in public. Nearly all Rotaries, the crossings and important landmarks have his alluring sculptures giving a message of our legends. They exhort people to engage in debates/discussions which create a vibrant, active and mindful society. By learning past through debates and discussions, we ignite our minds to shape a better future. On the larger canvas they strengthen nationhood, preserve cultural heritage and add to the elan of the place of installation. They share history with posterity.
Ravinder Jamwal’s name is entered in the Limca Book of World Records for his distinguished works in sculpting. He has participated in over 20 Sculptors Camps in India. His most creative sculptures collections are on display in Lalit Kala Academy and Modern Art Gallery New Delhi besides different galleries in India and abroad. He is recipient of several honours and awards including from JK Cultural Academy, Maharaja Gulab Singh Memorial Trust, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sahyog India and Dogri Sanstha. He is recipient of Dogra Ratna award, Gen. Zorawar Singh Memorial award, Favourite Duggar Personality award, Lalit Kala Academy award, All India Fine Art and Crafts Society award, All India Exhibition of Art Amritsar award, Senior Fellowship award from Dept. of Culture, Ministry of Human Resources and Development, Robe of Honour from Panun Kashmir Socio Cultural Organization and Best Artist award from ANN [Kashmir Images]. He has participated in 3rd Jaipur International Art Summit-2015, Montage Art Gallery Delhi-2005, Camps dela-sculpture Paris-2000 and 95 Kwangju Biennale, South Korea; both in 1995.
Wonder many know that various historic statues such as of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee at Kathua, of Mahatma Gandhi at Satwari Chowk, of Indira Gandhi at Indira Chowk, of Maharaja Ranbir Singh at RS Pura, of Chanakya at Parade Bazaar, of Maharaja Hari Singh at BJP Head Office Trikuta Nagar, at Tawi Bridge, Hari Singh Park as well as at Veer Bhoomi Park Samba, of Gen Zorawar Singh at Reasi and Zorawar Chowk Bahu Plaza, of Gen Bikram Singh at Bikram Chowk, of Jamedar Prakash Singh Chib, Victoria Cross at Nud, Akhnoor, of Comrade Dhanvantri in the park opposite RBI, of Main Dido at Amphalla Chowk, of Lala Hans Raj in Lala Hans Raj Park, of Brig Rajinder Singh in Rajinder Singh Pura and of Brig Pritam Singh, the Saviour of Poonch in Poonch have been crafted by Ravinder Jamwal.
His other artworks include statues of Girdhar Lal Dogra, opposite Police HQ, of Maj Inderjeet Singh Babbar, Kirti Chakra and Maj Ajay Singh Jasrotia, Seena Medal; both in Sainik Colony, of Lt Sushil Khajuria, Kirti Chakra at Ghagwal and of Master Beli Ram in Kathua. Besides above, a 10 ft statue of Babu Parmanand is lying ready to be installed in Roopnagar. Busts of martyrs D S P Gulbadhan Singh at Kalith, of Brig. Rajinder Singh at Srinagar, of Maj Gen Atma Singh in Usman Officers Institute Satwari Cantt, of Gen Zorawar Singh in Zorawar Stadium Sunjwan Cantt, of Raja Jambo Lochan in Shalamar Chowk, of Pt. Prem Nath Dogra in Dogra Sadar Sabha, of Col R L Chopra in IIIM, earlier RRL Canal Road, of renowned poet Padam Dev Singh Nirdosh in Akhnoor is also his creation.
Recognising his outstanding artwork, Ravinder Jamwal was asked to carve out Prime Minister Modi’s fibre glass statue. As if he was waiting for such golden opportunity to prove his excellence, he crafted a majestic 6.5 ft tall Fibre Glass statue of the Premier while all his earlier artworks were in metal. He made it in record time of 15 days by working overtime and with extra zeal. He put his heart and soul into it to make an exemplary artwork. It was presented to Modiji during his visit to Palli Panchayat in 2022 when PM came there to participate in the ‘Panchayati Raj Diwas’. His glittering fibre glass forbearing statue impressed Modi immensely. Besides lauding & complimenting Ravinder Jamwal for that fascinating gift, Prime Minister posed for a photo session with the sculptor and his wife. It was a historical moment for the couple as well as his Birpur clan.
Most significant of all artworks, to my mind, are the mounted statues of Maharaja Gulab Singh at Lakhanpur and of Gen Zorawar Singh in RBI Rotary. They also tell the stories of remarkable spirits, bravery and endurance displayed by the horses in the battles to help the warrior emerge victorious, much like Chetak of Maharana Pratap. In the first case, the trotting Charger of Maharaja depicts march to victories through the battlefields, which is true in case of founder ruler. In the other case, the story is different. The violently galloping Charger of the General depicts that the warrior is facing insurmountable resistance whereas the brave horse is scuttling the assaults on the warrior and is making the headway boldly. So magnificent a statue, standing so tall on just the hind legs alone, is a miraculous marvel of the Sculptor and Technology.
Since Ravinder Jamwal is a torchbearer of the society and inspiration for the current generation, my humble effort is to connect him with public at a broader canvas. My narration is not intended at his accomplishments alone but to stir the public mind to know more about such monumental artworks. That is the objective.
(The author is a student of Dogra heritage)