World's tallest statue opens to the public in India
Right on schedule, the world's tallest statue has officially opened in India. Standing almost 600 ft (182 m) tall, the new Statue of Unity depicts Indian freedom fighter Vallabhbhai Patel, and was dedicated by India's Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at a ceremony on October 31.
Popularly known as Sardar Patel, and even the "Iron Man of India," Patel is remembered as a key player in India's fight for independence from Britain during the early-to-mid 20th century. The Statue of Unity stands not only as a memorial to this important historical figure, but as a monumental feat of engineering.
Not including the base, the statue stands 597 ft (182 m) tall, beating the previous record-holder – the Spring Temple Buddha in China, at 502 ft (153 m) – by a fair margin. At around half the height, even the Statue of Liberty doesn't hold a torch to the newcomer.
At the opening ceremony, Prime Minister Modi gave a speech and offered a prayer, before pouring soil and water from the Narmada river, which the statue overlooks, into a metal container known as a kalash. The occasion was also celebrated with traditional dancers and a flyover by Indian Air Force aircraft.
The Prime Minister also dedicated the on-site Museum and Exhibition, and the Viewer's Gallery built into the statue's chest, providing views of the surrounding landscape from a vantage point 502 ft (153 m) high.
Construction took a little under four years to complete, and the date of the official unveiling was chosen to coincide with what would have been Patel's 143rd birthday.