India’s 597-Foot Statue of Unity Becomes the World’s Tallest Statue

India prepares to inaugurate the world's tallest statue

India's "Statue of Unity", unveiled earlier today, is now the tallest statue in the world overtaking China's Spring Temple Buddha.

That figure is not the most mind-boggling concerned with the construction of the Statue of Unity, built on Sadhu Island, in the western state of Gujarat. Sardar Patel - nicknamed, appropriately, "Iron Man" - helped unify India's 500-odd princely states after independence.

Modi, who ordered the statue built on the Narmada river when he was Gujarat chief minister, said previous year there had been efforts to "belittle" or "remove from history" the contributions of Patel, who helped unite India's 562 princely states as the first home, or interior, minister.

The statue is part of a broader project by Modi to counter the opposition Indian National Congress Party's firm claim on India's history by way of the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, his mentor, peace activist Mahatma Gandhi, and his daughter, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated by her guards in 1984.

Balloons in the colours of the Indian flag were release, and air force planes showered flower petals on the statue, which was built at a cost of over $881 million - a bill which proved controversial.

Sardar Patel was a deputy prime minister in India's first post-independence government.

In the largely tribal town of Dediapada, roughly 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the statue, villagers shuttered shops and closed the main market for the day in protest.

Surrounded by the waters of the Narmada river, the statue stands at five times the height of Rio De Janeiro's famous statue of Christ The Redeemer and more than double the height of Russia's imposing The Motherland Calls statue in Volgograd. The Statue of Unity is just under half as tall as the Empire State Building, which stands at 1,250 feet.

Local legislator and community group leader Chotu Vasava said: "Tribal groups have been exploited by different governments, the ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) is repeating it again". It is made up of almost 100,000 tonnes of concrete and steel.

He described the Statue of Unity as a symbol of the country's engineering and technical capabilities.

Indian policemen gather next to the Statue of Unity. The current design would make it 212 metres high.

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