Statue of Unity - A Modern Marvel
Finally we got a chance to visit Statue of Unity just before it's first anniversary during Oct 2019. The statue is an architectural marvel built to honor the one of the greatest Indian, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
I have done reasonable amount of travel within India, from north to south and from east to west. One complain that I always have is that our governments have almost stopped building new tourism attractions for quite some time. In most cities and states, the places of tourism belong to British or pre-British era, or places of worships by independent organisations (like Akshardham). I have also seen during my foreign stay how Indian Freedom struggle has been reduced to couple of people in International media. For these reasons, I am quite happy to have a modern monument that not only establishes the legacy of national leaders but also becomes a major tourism destination. It also showcases the skills of Indian companies and engineers to the whole world.
Trivia - The height of 182 mtrs was chosen to signify 182 number of seats in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly.
The Giant talking to the mountains
Reaching Statue of Unity:
- Statue of Unity is located on Sadhu Bet, Near Sardar Sarovar Dam, Kevadia, Gujarat. Statue site is accessible by road from Gujarat's major cities, nearest one is Vadodara. It is at 90 kms distance from Vadodara Airport, a 2 hour drive. The road is newly developed and is a scenic drive along which we can see Pavagadh Hills in distance.
- Booking for Statue viewing can be done online at https://soutickets.in/. The dates open before 30 days. Tickets are also available at the ticket counters at Statue site.
- Statue site opens at 8:00 am in the morning, and entry to museum and statue is allowed till 6:00 pm.
Staying at Statue of Unity
- Though we made a day trip mainly to visit Statue and Dam, with the addition of Dino Park, Valley of Flowers, Cactus Garden, Butterfly Park and other projects, it is difficult to cover everything in a single day. There are multiple tent-cities near Kevadia for the overnight stay whose booking can be done online. With the increase in tourists, a number of new stay options are likely to come in future.
The first place we visited after reaching here was Sardar Sarovar Dam view point. It is a small climb along local shops from where 163 mtr high dam can be seen. It is the biggest dam in the state of Gujarat, and provides water to arid regions of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
Sardar Sarovar Dam
As the Valley of flowers was closed due to security arrangements for Prime Minister's visit, we directly headed to the Statue site from the dam view point. It is a huge space with separate entry and exit. There is a decent size cafeteria where good veg food is available, though it can be crowded during peak season. There is also souvenir shop, and a huge open space with benches. This is from where evening Light-and-Sound show is seen. Statue is constructed such that Sardar is overseeing the site of Sardar Sarovar Dam, his vision that was fulfilled almost 70 years after his death.
Statue of Unity
At the feet of the Statue, there is a big museum that showcases life of Sardar Patel, India's Freedom struggle, partition and unification of India. It also showcases photos of different animals, birds and trees found in Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. There are two mini-theaters within this AC museum that continuously shows biography of Sardar Patel and Sardar Sarovar Dam construction in various languages. Museum also has a replica of statue, and outline of statue made from instruments donated by farmers.
Trivia - Indian Sculptor, Ram Sutar, created three models measuring 3 feet, 18 feet, and 30 feet to finalize the Statue design.
Statue of Unity Museum - Freedom Struggle
Statue of Unity Museum - Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife
From the museum, there are four high-speed lifts fitted within Statue can carry 26 people (each) to the viewing gallery at 153 mtrs in just about 30 seconds. This provides a scenic view of dam and surrounding area from that height.
After exploring museum during the afternoon, we reached the foot of the Statue through multiple stairs/escalators. While the Statue is visible from entire site, it is from here that we come to know about its giant stature compared human size. We took a moment to admire the great man at his feet, and in a true sense we are all dwarfs against this legend.
Trivia - It took 2,12,000 liters of concrete, 18,000 tonnes of reinforced steel and 6,565 bronze panels to build the statue.
View of Statue from the base
After 6:00 pm, entry to the Statue and museum is closed, and we sat at the benches near cafeteria, enjoying evening snacks. It started raining, but stopped after some time. Every evening at around 7:15 pm, there is a Light-and-Sound show projected on the Statue. It showcases the life of Sardar Patel, India's Freedom struggle and details about the Statue itself. Watching this 30 min show is highly recommended.
Evening @ Statue of Unity
The Statue provides good exposure to young minds about the life of Sardar Patel and freedom struggle. It ignites that curiosity in them which will lead to the path of greater knowledge about India's history.
Trivia - The Statue will turn from its original bronze color to green in 100 years due to natural aging process.