Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the Statue of Unity dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the world’s tallest statue, in Gujarat’s Kevadiya today on the occasion of the 143rd birth anniversary of Free India’s first home minister.
Built on Sadhu Bet Island on Narmada river, the imposing statue is touted to be the world’s tallest. The statue sits over 20,000 square meters and is surrounded by a 12 square km artificial lake. The 182-meter structure of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in the US. The total project cost is estimated to be Rs. 2,989 crore. The statue depicts Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, wearing a traditional dhoti and shawl, towering over river Narmada.
Three Indian Air Force planes flew past the Patel figure and created the tricolor in the sky after Modi inaugurated the giant. The Gujarat government expects the statue to boost tourism, with one estimate putting the daily numbers at 15,000.
Apart from the Patel bronze figure, other major attractions include the inauguration of a 17-km-long Valley of flowers, a Tent City for tourists near the statue and a museum dedicated to the life and times of Patel.
The Tent City, located around four km from the Statue of Unity can house more than 500 tourists in one go. A viewing gallery at the height of 153 meters has been created inside the statue to enable tourists to have a view of 1,210-metre long concrete Sardar Sarovar Dam, 3.2 km upstream as well as the nearby Satpura and Vindhya mountain ranges.
About Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Vallabhbhai Patel (October 31, 1875 – December 15, 1950) was a political and social leader of India who played a significant role in the country’s struggle for freedom and finally guided its integration into a united, independent nation. He was called the “Iron Man of India,” and was often addressed as “Sardar” which means “Chief” or “Leader” in many languages of India.
Vallabhbhai Patel already had a successful practice as a lawyer when he was first spurred by the work and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. Patel subsequently organized the peasants of Kheda, Borsad, and Bardoli in Gujarat in a non-violent civil disobedience movement against oppressive policies imposed by the British Raj; in this role, he became one of the most influential leaders in Gujarat. He grew to the leadership of the Indian National Congress and was at the fore of rebellions and political events, organizing the party for elections in 1934 and 1937, and promoting the Quit India movement.
As the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India, Patel organized relief for refugees in Punjab and Delhi and led efforts to restore peace across the nation. Patel took charge of the task to forge a united India from the 565 semi-autonomous princely states and British-era colonial provinces. Using direct diplomacy strengthened with the option (and the use) of military action, Patel’s leadership facilitated the accession of almost every princely state. Hailed as the Iron Man of India, he is also memorialized as the “Patron Saint” of India’s civil servants for establishing modern all-India services. Patel was also one of the earliest supporters of property rights and free enterprise in India.
Modi often reemphasizes that Sardar Patel was not given his due as the Congress kept ‘glorifying only one family’ after Independence, even as historians and the Opposition often highlight the fact that it was Patel who banned the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination and that he was always critical of Hindu nationalists.
The birthday of India’s iron man is also observed as Rashtriya Ekta Diwas or National Unity Day since the year 2014. The day is being marked by people taking a pledge to protect the unity and also characterized by Run for Unity events being organized across the country.
Statue of Unity facts – At 182 meter, the mammoth replica of Sardar Patel is the world’s tallest statue, leaving behind USA’s Statue of Liberty (93 meters), Japan’s Ushiku Daibutsu (120 meters) and even China’s Spring Temple Buddha (153 meters) statues. The statue has been built to withstand winds of 180km/hour and earthquakes of up to 6.5 Richter scale.