Paritala Anjaneya Temple

Location: Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh

Height: 135 feet (41 metres)

The Lord Hanuman statue, which was inaugurated on June 22, 2003, stands on a 15-foot-high pedestal. Construction began on April 30, 2001, under prominent sculptor Jaan Babu of Peddapuram, who was assisted by 25 artistes. The statue is made of roller-compacted concrete. It was commissioned by Venkateshwara Rao Ramadas Swami, a temple priest and devotee of Lord Hanuman, who currently manages the temple. The 2.5-acre land was gifted by his relatives based in Hyderabad. The total cost, including the 50-foot-deep foundation was Rs 2.5 crore.

Thiruvalluvar Statue

Location: Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu

Height: 133 feet (40.6 metres)

The statue of the Tamil poet and philosopher, sculpted by Dr V Ganapati Sthapati, was installed in 2000. It was built by the state government at a cost of Rs 6.14 crore. The statue is placed on a 38-foot-high pedestal. The project was conceived by then Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in 1975, and the foundation stone was laid by former Prime Minister Morarji Desai in 1979, when M G Ramachandran was the Chief Minister. The sculpting of the statue was started in 1990 by Sthapathy and the work was completed in 1999.


Spring Temple Buddha

Location: Lushan County, Henan, China

Height: 420 feet (128 metres)

The statue was built between 1997 and 2008. With its 82-foot-tall pedestal, the monument rises to a total height of 502 feet (153 metres). The project cost $55 million, of which nearly $18 million was spent on constructing the statue. Beneath the statue is a Buddhist monastery.

Laykyun Sekkya

Location: Khatakan Taung, near Monywa, Myanmar

Height: 381 feet (116 metres)

The statue of Buddha stands on a 44 feet (13.5 metres) throne. Construction began in 1996 and it was completed on February 21, 2008. The statue has 31 floors, referring to the 31 realms of life cycle as per Buddhist literature.

The viewing gallery will be accessible through two elevators located in the statue’s core, with a carrying capacity of 40 people each. While the initial plan was to allow visitors up to the structure’s head and to have a viewing gallery running through the eyes, this was dropped as unfeasible. Says an official, “The wind conditions do not favour a viewing gallery at that height. The chest is the maximum to which visitors can be safely allowed.” The gallery, with space to accommodate up to 200 people at a time, would provide a view of the Satpura and Vindhyachal mountain ranges, which also form the point where Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra meet. Visitors can also get a distant view of the 212-km-long Sardar Sarovar Reservoir, and the 12-km-long Garudeshwar Reservoir — the latter will help ensure there is always water around the statue, which is located downstream from the Narmada dam.

In the lobby area at the entrance of the statue, a Museum and Audio Visual Gallery will feature 15-minute presentations on the life of Patel and the tribal culture of Gujarat, to entertain tourists awaiting their turn to go up. Says an official, “The concept is very similar to Burj Khalifa. There visitors are shown audio-visual presentations on the construction of Burj Khalifa. We have an advantage that the statue is not just a building but a tribute to a great personality.”

Bronze cladding arriving for the statue; workers take 10 min to cover distance from the ground to chest in this lift. Express Photo by Bhupendra Rana

Once the statue opens, plans are afoot to have an amphibian bus that can run on both land and water from Kevadiya to the statue site, as well as for a jetty service from the dam site to the statue. SSNNL officials say bids have been invited for a ropeway cable car as another means to reach the statue.

Besides, along the banks of the Narmada, work is on to make a ‘valley of flowers’, notwithstanding the rocky terrain. “We have used artificial soil to cover more than 200 hectares. We are planting perennial plants,” says Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Dr D K Sharma.

Chief Secretary J N Singh, who was the Managing Director of SSNNL when the Statue of Unity was commissioned, and is a member of the trust for its construction, says completing the statue is a matter of pride for the state. “The significance is at two levels. One is that the statue stands for so much that Sardar Patel has given to this country to unify it. On another level, the statue is going to turn around the fortunes of the Narmada district as it will become one of the most important tourist attractions in India, if not the world.”

About the inaugural ceremony on October 31, Singh adds, “It is extremely significant that the foundation was laid by Modiji when he was the Chief Minister, and that he will inaugurate the project now.”

But from Kevadia to Jiangxi, 4,200 km away, everybody associated with the project knows that in the end, it will all come down to the face. And that day is near. Earlier this month, work began on the last few metres, comprising the head and shoulders.

“We have set aside two weeks in the beginning of October to complete the face,” says an L&T official.


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