After more than three years of construction the world's largest statue is on track for an October 2018 opening. The massive Statue of Unity in India is set to tower an extraordinary 600 feet (183 m), almost double the height of the Statue of Liberty.
This massive engineering feat is set to exceed the current record for the world's tallest statue, held by the Spring Temple Buddha in China, which stands at just over 500 feet (153 m) – although, some do argue the Spring Buddha actually stands to a height of over 680 feet (208 m) if the multiple pedestals it stands on are included.
The Statue of Unity is designed to be a large memorial for Vallabhbhai "Sardar" Patel, one of the primary figures of India's independence movement in the early 20th century, and often referred to as the "Iron Man of India."
The remarkable project is being built in the Indian state of Gujarat, facing the Sardar Sarovar Dam on the Narmada River. The statue is constructed on a river island that will be connected to the mainland via a long bridge. Inside the statue will be a visitor center and museum with a viewing deck built into the chest of the statue.
This first phase of the project is expected to cost around US$460 million, with further phases planned to expand the entire footprint of the development, including a hotel and convention centre. The entire plan is on such a staggering scale that it is the kind of thing you can't believe is being built until you actually see that it's almost complete.
From an engineering perspective this is also unimaginably massive. The multi-firm consortium managing the design and build includes Turner Construction, best known for project managing the construction of the Burj Khalifa. Over the last couple of the years the two concrete cores of the monument have been successfully built, around which structural steel scaffolding will be erected to support the bronze outer panels that give the statue its shape.
The first bronze panel was recently installed ,bringing the statue into its final phase of construction that will see its true form emerge over the coming months.
Another district in India is already aiming to steal the record of world's tallest from the Statue of Unity. The Shiv Smarak monument laid its foundation in 2016, with an estimated competition date set for 2021. This extraordinary statue dedicated to a 17th century warrior king is planned to be 690 feet (210 m) high, or a mind-blowing 885 feet (270 m) high if including its gigantic base.
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