Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday unveiled the National Emblem on the roof of the new Parliament building in capital Delhi.
The inauguration of the bronze statue — a three-dimensional figure depicting four lions standing back-to-back on a circular slab — marked a milestone for the new Parliament, which is scheduled opening in winter.
Handcrafted by Indian artisans, the symbol is 6.5 metres tall and weighs 9,500kg. A steel structure weighing 6,500kg has been built to support the emblem.
Mr Modi unveiled the statue after a prayer that was attended by Parliament’s upper house Speaker Om Birla and other central ministers. The prime minister also spoke to some of the labourers involved in the construction work.
“I had a wonderful interaction with the Shramjeevis who have been involved in the making of the Parliament,” Mr Modi said. "We are proud of their efforts and will always remember their contribution to our nation."
The Lion Capital of Ashoka is an adaptation of an ancient sculpture of one of the Ashoka Pillars, the monolithic columns created by Maurya Emperor Ashoka during his reign in 250 BC.
More than 100 artisans reportedly worked for six months on the structure, which was divided in 150 segments then assembled on the roof.
“The concept sketch and process of casting of the National Emblem had gone through eight different stages of preparation, from clay modelling and computer graphics to bronze casting and polishing," Mr Modi’s office said in a statement.
The symbol is a part of the new Parliament building, the highlight of Mr Modi’s $2.8 billion Central Vista Project that will repurpose British-era government buildings in the capital.
The four-storey building is spread over 5.2 hectares and is expected to be completed by October.