The Design and Planning of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial

Pragya Sharma Apr 18, 2022 1

The state of Maharashtra is the proud bearer of one of the greatest rulers of mediaeval India – Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. He revolutionised monarchic administration by establishing “swarajya” as the law of the land. As the founder of the Maratha Empire, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj exercised religious tolerance and functional integration of all castes. Under his reign, the country witnessed the formidable growth of the Maratha Empire. 

Titled “Father of the Indian Navy”, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj recognised the importance of water transport and security and established a strong naval force. Hence, he has been a significant figure in shaping the country’s development. To commemorate Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s ideas, virtues, and contribution to India, the Government of Maharashtra proposed the construction of a massive-scaled statue of him called the “Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial” or “Shiv Smarak” in Mumbai. 

In a similar context, India recently witnessed the construction of Sardar Patel’s statue – The Statue of Unity in Gujarat in 2018. The statue represents the solidarity of India and is presently the tallest statue in the world with a height of 182 m. (600 ft.). The ambitious Shiv Smarak is expected to achieve a height of 212 m. — even taller than the Statue of Unity, establishing India’s expertise in design and construction skills globally. 

Project Timeline and Development

It is considered that the proposal for Shiv Smarak has been impending since 1996 when the BJP – Shiv Sena alliance government was in power in the state. Following this, a committee was set in 1997 to discuss proposals for the project site and drawing. It is believed that the site for the statue was originally finalised in Film City, Goregaon, but the proposal got rejected due to security concerns. 

The land in Aarey Colony was also briefly considered for the project. But, it was in 2005 when the idea of constructing the statue in the Arabian Sea was proposed. With much back-and-forth, the site location for Shiv Smarak was finalised to be a reclaimed island in the Arabian Sea – Back Bay in 2014. In December 2016, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi earmarked the “spot” for the Shiv Smarak and officiated the “jal pujan” as a ritual to bless the spot with auspicious grace of deities. 

The statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj will be designed by Ram V Sutar, who also designed the Statue of Unity. He is the recipient of the Padma Bhushan- India’s highest civilian award for his renowned works in sculpture. The architectural design of Smarak complex and amenities have been done by Design Associates Inc, a Noida-based architecture and urban design firm. Larsen and Toubro (L&T) have been finalised to build the structure with steel framing and reinforced concrete. 

The reclamation of land, clearance of mangroves, and coastal biodiversity make the Smarak project susceptible to having significant environmental impact. Hence, the Maharashtra government appointed the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, and the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur for undertaking the environmental impact assessment of the project.  The project was provisioned a NOC after studying its environmental impact by both the organisations.

Architecture and Planning

The reclamation land which will serve as the site for Shiv Smarak is spread across an area of 1,59,600 sq. m. The land will be secured by the creation of a retaining wall acting as a fortification around the site periphery. The project expenditure is estimated to be Rs. 3,600 crores. 

The project stakeholders understand the urban significance of the Smarak and have therefore proposed a design in a manner such that it offers an immersive user experience. The minimum viewing distance of the Smarak would be from Raj Bhavan estimated at 1.5 km. The sculpture would also be visible from Nariman Point and Girgaum Chowpatty at a distance of 3.2 km. and 3.6 km. respectively. 

With Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s statue as the centre of attraction, the project site will also accommodate other infrastructure developments. A holistic site development plan incorporates the vision for creating a memorial garden, library, food court, visitor centre buildings, museum, and a convention centre. The other significant proposed developments on the site include an exhibition gallery, hospital, and amphitheatre. It is also proposed that the Smarak site will display relics from the forts built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

The monumental Smarak is planned on a pedestal, showcasing traditional curatorial skills and technology-integrated construction. The sculpture of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj sitting on a horse will serve as a monumental landmark for Mumbai. The Smarak accommodates elevators to ease vertical transportation for approaching the statue’s base. This base of the Smarak is proposed to be constructed on a basalt rock outcrop selected by the Maharashtra government. 

Interventions and Current Status

Large-scale monumental projects have a significant impact on the surroundings, people, lifestyle, and livelihood; and the proposed Shiv Smarak project is no exception to that. The construction of Shiv Smarak has been criticised by people who believe that the generous budget of the project could have been utilised for other welfare activities in the state. 

The Koli fishing community in Maharashtra has also condemned the project as it endangers their livelihood. It is feared that such invasive developments in the coastal area will threaten the natural aquatic ecosystem, negatively impacting their income source.

The project is also expected to raise pollution levels in the Arabian Sea. The waste generated because of tourism such as drinking water bottles and food packages has also been a pressing issue for the Smarak project. The site of the Smarak located in the middle of a water body, makes it more significantly alter biodiversity patterns. The earmarked area for Smarak site is home to fishes, eagles, and vultures; the existence of which will be endangered because of encroachment activities. 

The project was halted in 2019 due to the incumbent Maha Vikas Aghadi, following the directives of the Supreme Court. However, the work on the project has resumed with all clearances received and is estimated to be completed by October 2022. With such debatable concerts painted all over the project, it has managed to outshine and gain global acclaim. While it is for time to tell how the Smarak will impact Mumbai and its natural ecosystem, it is certain that the project will give the city a unique identity and further strengthen its political position.


  1. Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial- Proposal Detail and Tentative Plan
  2. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial
  3. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial: Project originally proposed at Goregaon Film City in 1996 by Shiv Sena-BJP govt
  4. Fishermen Opposing Site of Shivaji Statue Arrested Ahead of Modi Visit

Disclaimer: The information contained herein have been compiled or arrived at, based upon information obtained in good faith from sources believed to be reliable. The opinions expressed within the content are solely the author’s and can be subject to change. The image featured in this article is only for illustration purposes. If you wish the article to be removed or edited, please send an email to


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