As the saying goes, records are made to be broken. And true to form, there's a new world's tallest statue. Earlier today, the Indian government unveiled Statue of Unity, a 597-foot-tall structure that honors Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the founding fathers of modern-day India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the October 31 celebration (selected since it's both Patel’s birthday and National Unity Day) to unveil the statue, which towers over the Narmada River in the western state of Gujarat.
It took exactly four years for the statue (which is made from steel, reinforced concrete, and bronze cladding) to surpass the former record holder, China's 420-foot-tall Spring Temple Buddha. The Statue of Unity cost some $420 million to complete and was constructed by Larsen & Toubro. The Mumbai-based firm is one of the largest in the country, and has been responsible for the construction of such high profile projects as New Delhi's International Airport and the Lotus Temple. The sculpture was designed by Ram V. Sutar, a 93-year-old Indian sculptor who is among the most celebrated designers in the region.
Anytime a statue is erected in the name of unity, similarities to New York's State of Liberty are bound to follow. And India's Statue of Unity is no exception. While the 305-foot-tall Statue of Liberty pales in height to its Indian counterpart, the two do share the similar ideals of inclusiveness. Indeed, Patel was influential in incorporating more than 560 colonial Indian states into a single union. In fact, there's another New York statue that was created for much of the same reasons. Washington Square Park's statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi was to honor his contribution to the unification of Italy in the 19th century.
Yet, records are made to be broken, and the Statue of Unity is no exception. It's estimated that by 2021, India will complete another 696-foot-tall statue of the 17th-century warrior king, Shivaji, along the coast of Mumbai.