India, known largely in the tourist sector for the emblematic Taj Mahal, will now have a new attraction – the 182m (600ft) tall bronze statue of independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the western state of Gujarat.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled this Statue of Unity in a grand inaugural function and called it “a symbol of India’s integrity and resolve”.
With a price tag of 29.9bn rupees ($430m), many locals have raised eyebrows over whether the money could have been spent elsewhere for better causes. However, it is to be noted that Sardar Patel, to whom the memorial is dedicated, played a leading role in Indian independence and guided its integration into a united, independent nation.
The memorial has been a pet project for PM Modi as they were both born in Gujarat. Modi commissioned the statue when he was the state’s Chief Minister in 2010. It is almost twice as tall as New York’s Statue of Liberty, and it has surpassed the height of the Spring Temple Buddha in China which was previously the tallest in the world at 128m. Brazil’s landmark, Christ the Redeemer, stands at 38m, whereas Russia’s The Motherland Calls is at 85m.
The statue is a befitting homage to Sardar Patel, who was India’s very first interior minister and deputy prime minister. He is lovingly called “The Iron Man of India” since he persuaded feuding states of colonial India to unite and become part of the Indian state after independence. In 2013, PM Modi said during his election campaign, “Every Indian regrets that Sardar Patel did not become the first Prime Minister”.
To supersede Gujarat, the government in the western state of Maharashtra is constructing a memorial to honor the Maratha warrior King Shivaji that is estimated to be 190m tall. When complete, this statue will be the tallest in the world.
According to BBC, here’s what went into making the world’s tallest statue:
- The Statue of Unity weighs about 67,000 tonnes and has been built to withstand major earthquakes as well as heavy winds
- Around 12,000 bronze panels were used in the exterior, weighing almost 1,850 tonnes
- The monument and its surroundings occupy more than 20,000 square metres, encompassed by a 12 square km artificial lake
- More than 2,000 workers along with several hundred labourers from China contributed to the efforts