Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest statue, on Wednesday, was dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Kevadiya in Narmada district of Gujarat. The 182 metre statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was unveiled on his 143rd birth anniversary.
While addressing a gathering PM Modi said that the statue will be a reminder about the courage of a man who thwarted efforts to disintegrate India.
Had Sardar Patel not united the country, we would need visas to see lions or pay homage at Somnath or view the Charminar in Hyderabad, the prime minister said.
He added that the statue will remind those who question India's existence that this nation was, is and will remain eternal. He described the Statue of Unity as a symbol of the country's engineering and technical capabilities.
Referring to criticism over construction of the project, Modi said the BJP is censured even when it praises great leaders like Patel.
"Is it (praising great leaders) a crime?" Modi asked the gathering present at the unveiling ceremony.
"It was the sentiment of crores of Indians that the man who united the country should get the honour he deserved," the prime minister said.
"It was the sentiment of crores of Indians that the man who united the country should get the honour he deserved," the prime minister said. It has been built using over 70,000 tonnes of cement, 18,500 tonnes of reinforcement steel, 6,000 tonnes of structural steel and 1,700 metric tonnes of bronze, which was used for the outer cladding of the structure.
It is built on Sadhu Bet Island on Narmada and costed Rs 2,389 crore to the government.
It is almost 29 metres taller than China's Spring Temple Buddha that stands at 153 metres and almost twice as high as the 93-metre Statue of Liberty in New York.
Three Indian Air Force planes flew past the Patel figure and created the tricolour in the sky after Modi inaugurated the giant.
A viewing gallery at a height of 153 metres has been created inside the statue to enable tourists to have a view of 1,210 metre long concrete Sardar Sarovar Dam, 3.2 km upstream as well as the nearby Satpura and Vindhya mountain ranges.
The Gujarat government expects the statue to boost tourism, with one estimate putting the daily numbers at 15,000.
Apart from the Patel bronze figure, other major attractions include inauguration of a 17-km-long Valley of flowers, a Tent City for tourists near the statue and a museum dedicated to the life and times of Patel.
The Tent City, located around four km from the Statue of Unity can house more than 500 tourists in one go.
Gujarat Governor O P Kohli, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and BJP chief Amit Shah were present at the unveiling of the 'Statue of Unity'.
(With inputs from agencies)