Gujarat's Memorial Museum is now shortlisted for the UNESCO Prix Versailles Award 2024

Standing tall as a symbol of human resilience and hope, Smritivan Earthquake Memorial Museum is an establishment preserving the memories and learnings of the past in the most innovative ways
Smritivan Earthquake Memorial Museum
Smritivan Earthquake Memorial Museum RDM

Underscoring the importance of memorials in honouring past tragedies while inspiring future generations through stories of resilience and recovery, The Smritivan Earthquake Memorial Museum in Gujarat has been shortlisted for the prestigious UNESCO Prix Versailles Award 2024 — a significant honour recognising architectural excellence, cultural significance and innovative public space design.

Although the final award winners will be announced in November this year, Smritivan Earthquake Memorial Museum’s nomination has already garnered international acclaim. The museum commemorates the devastating 2001 earthquake that struck Bhuj with a magnitude of 7.7, claiming around 13,000 lives and injuring 67,000.

Among the seven remarkable museums competing for the esteemed Prix Versailles Award, the Smritivan Earthquake Memorial Museum in Gujarat is notable for its thoughtful use of space and materials. Spanning 470 acres, the museum’s layout guides visitors through a journey of reflection and learning, detailing the earthquake events, relief efforts and the rebuilding process.

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Smritivan,’ meaning Forest of Memories, is located on Bhujiyo Dungar hill in Bhuj. It serves as a place of pilgrimage, tribute and praise for the resilience and sacrifice of the Kutch people who lost their lives in the 2001 earthquake. The memorial features 50 check-dam reservoirs with nameplates of nearly 13,000 victims and a Sun-Point that offers views of the city, sunrises and sunsets from the hilltop.

The Smritivan Museum complex includes a restored 300-year-old fort, a solar power plant, extensive tree plantations and a dedicated museum expanded to 11,500 square metres. The educational and interactive exhibits across the seven blocks incude special theatre showcases the 2001 earthquake experience, providing insights into natural disasters.

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Here’s what you can expect from each block:

‘Restore’ recounts the tragic events of the 2001 Bhuj earthquake and the immediate rescue and relief activities. Visitors can immerse themselves in testimonies and recollections of survivors and victims’ loved ones.

‘Rebuild’ provides a comprehensive understanding of the collective process of rebuilding and reconstructing Gujarat for long-term disaster mitigation.

‘Rethink’ defines global disaster response and preparedness measures through games and interactive activities.

‘Relive’ features the world’s largest simulation experience in a 360-degree setting, allowing visitors to feel the tremors realistically experienced during the 2001 earthquake.

‘Renew’ is designed for visitors to pay respects to those who lost their lives in the tragedy, with a digital flame symbolising their memory.

Smritivan Earthquake Memorial Museum
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