India might be famous for the Taj Mahal, but the country’s brand new Statue of Unity will soon be on its heels. The “Iron Man of India” statue opened today, and at a height of 597 feet, it’s now the tallest statue in the world. Built to celebrate the 143rd anniversary of the birth of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the country’s first deputy prime minister, the statue is covered entirely in bronze and cost $289,500. Sardar Patel was famous for his leading role in the integration and unification of India’s disparate ethnic groups in the 1940s.
Most impressively, the statue is actually twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty, nine times as tall as England’s Angel of the North, and 164 feet higher than the current world record holder — China’s Spring Temple Buddha. And it’s not just a standalone statue, either. Located in the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, in India’s Gujarat state, the statue will be connected by bridge to a museum and audio-visual gallery, a three-star hotel, and a garden dedicated to Sardar Patel. It was designed to withstand earthquakes, Category 3 storms, and winds up to 111 miles per hour.
While the government hopes the statue will increase tourism revenue, the “Iron Man of India” still has its critics. Mohan Gurumurthy, of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, told the Telegraph that Patel himself would “never approve millions to be spent on this statue.” Gurumurthy believes the project is a political maneuver to use Patel — a strong nationalist figure — as a propaganda piece for the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Shri Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, said that the statue is solely meant to represent “academic, historical, national, and spiritual values. My vision is to develop the place as a source of inspiration for ages to come.”
H/T: Yahoo Lifestyle