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Paving the Way for Possibilities

Perched at an elevation of 3000 ft in Imphal’s East district, the 122 ft bronze statue of God Marjing stands as a tribute to the God of Horses and Polo. The monument symbolises Manipur’s cultural faith and its contribution to the world – the game of Polo. Overcoming challenges, the innovative use of Tata Structura’s Hollow Sections in the statue’s construction is a testament to engineering excellence. This article delves into the story of crafting this colossal structure.
Music. The thing that has the gravity to unite individuals and communities across languages, traditions, and cultures. The seven notes of music, played in n number of combinations when resonating with different people, the differences dissolve and people unite and resonate on the same wavelength. The symphony of music galvanises communities through a common emotion, even if the language is different.

Similarly, just like music has the power to us feel the same emotion, so do structures. They stand as a symbol of something larger than life and represent a common belief of that region’s community with pride and honour. Just like music, they carry the power to unite and galvanize communities. Be it the Statue of Liberty in America, or the Molecule Man in Germany, structures unite people through harmony. This article is a story of one such structure based in the capital of Manipur, the land of Jewels.  The man, the myth, the legend At a height of approximately 3000 ft above sea level on the hills of Heingang in the East district of Imphal, atop a museum sits the 122 ft high statue of God Marjing. The God of Horses and the game of Polo, riding on Samadon Ayangba (the horse), the statue is a screenshot of God Marjing, playing Sagol Kangjei – the game of Polo, carrying his polo stick. The brainchild of Chief Minister N Biren Singh, the bronze-covered statue, is a tribute to God Marjing and a representation of the faith of Manipuri culture, while also symbolising the pride of gifting the world the game of Polo! But no magnanimous feat is without challenges.

Coming face-to-face with challenges

Conceiving a structure, never been thought of before, in a terrain not so accessible, on such a massive scale, of an entity that is revered in the whole region. There can be no room for error. The whole structural design was to be done keeping in mind the transportation.  For this major challenge, the solution came from steel, because concrete would have only added to the task.  And steel hollow sections came to the rescue, as they are  lightweight, easy-to-transport, fabricate, and  erect material.

The size of the material was decided by measuring the shortest turn on the whole mountainous route. That turn provided the knowledge of the maximum dimension of the steel that can be transported smoothly. Post deciding the material, came the second challenge of the erection of the structure. Since the structure rests above a grid of beams on the roof of a three-storey building, with museum facilities, the structural design was done in primarily two parts, horse and the rider.

The structural frame of the horse is made up of a combination of Tata Structura’s circular and square hollow sections. The structural frame of the rider is made up of only the square hollow sections. The main structural frame is made of two layers of Structural Steel with the outer sheet surface made of a 1.5 mm bronze sheet. Bronze was a conscious choice, to give a rustic feel to give tribute to the player supreme, God Marjing

Paying tributes & boosting tourism
Played in over 50 nations across the globe, the Polo Sport is considered as the game of Royals. It is a sport played with unparalleled enthusiasm and while we keep reminding the world that it was Bharat that gave the world ‘0’, it is time that we also remind not just the world but ourselves too that we as a nation have given many things to the world, one of them is the great game of Polo. Hence, the statue is a symbol of many things, the worship of God Marjing, a declaration to the world that it was from here the sport originated, and of course the celebration of the region and the culture of Manipur.
The land of Jewels, situated in the Northeastern part of the subcontinent, has many places of tourism. This structure in Imphal also serves the purpose of increasing the tourism gravity of the place and the region. It is astonishing to think that so many amazing things can be achieved through just one structure, and all of this was made possible by an equally amazing team through their dedication and hard work.

Teamwork makes the dreamwork
The structure was to be made by fabricating materials not in a single frame, simultaneously keeping the precision coordinates on the ground and while transporting the material to the site. This was done by first assembling on ground at the site and then a digital scanning was performed to check its correctness with that of the original digital scan. Once that matched, the final erection was carried out. All of this and many other small yet significant things could have been a major hindrance, but the astute understanding of the structural consultant Nilanjan Basu & his team at BCE Design Services, advice from Jadavpur University, the efficient workmanship of NPEC and with the help and constant observation by engineers from PWD, Imphal, the body erection was done perfectly.

Achieving something larger
A 200 MT grand structure, of a God, inaugurated by the Home Minister Amit Shah was conceived from a noble thought of paying tribute to the culture, the game and the place where the game was born. Moving from concrete to 100 per cent steel, reducing the time from 2.5 years to 1.5 years, the weight that could have been 800 MT in concrete, was achieved in just 200 MT of steel. This is just the material, concrete and its logistics would have made it next to impossible for this structure to become a reality.
But steel made it happen and paved the way for possibilities then and for the future as well, it will make the construction community believe in many more such possibilities. Especially the use of Tata Structura steel hollow sections, which were welded directly as they provide a high surface area for welding connections. They also gave more strength to the structure to bear wind and seismic loads compared to open sections and gave a better finish for attaching the final bronze cladding. It showed people what could be the shape of things to come. We are only grateful that the whole material of this statue came from Tata Steel, and gave the industry a new direction to explore, which has always been our intent.
This structure of God Marjing shall also work in galvanising the Meitei community, like a symphony of music, this symphony of steel will bring prosperity and harmony to the land for centuries.

Fact File
Project: Marjing Polo Statue, Manipur
Project Owner: PWD, Imphal
Architect, EPC & PMC: PWD Imphal
Engineering: BCE Design Services LLP, Jadavpur University
Fabrication & Installation: National Power Engineering Company
Tonnage: 200 MT


QuoteShoot:

“It was a collaborative decision with the client to go with structural steel for the main frame. At the initial stage, the decision to frame out the statue with hollow sections from Tata Structura came after trials using various types of steel sections. Few specialised connections were developed. The framing and design were also in joint discussion with the client and Fabricators. Using steel made it easier to design the foundations as well. In short, the use of 100 per cent hollow sections made the project all the more special since it is India’s first 100 per cent equestrian statue.”
-Nilanjan Basu, Managing Partner, BCE Design Services LLP.

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