The Iron man of India stands tall, immortalized in a gigantic statue that rests aptly on a base created from iron collected from across the country.
Constructed to commemorate the memory of Sardar Vallabhai Patel, one of India’s most prominent freedom fighters from Gujarat who was titled the Iron Man of India, this statue was inaugurated on his 143rd birth anniversary on Oct 31st, 2018.
The Statue of Unity, a subject of controversy to some and a matter of pride to others but nevertheless imposing in appearance and impossible to ignore, has secured the Number 1 position for India, in the list of world statues.
This blog post is merely to narrate my experiences there and will not entertain debates on the matter 😀
Rising out of the Sadhu Bet island in the mighty river Narmada, near the Kevadiya town of Narmada district in the state of Gujarat in India, the Statue of Unity stands in a picturesque setting, flanked by the mountain ranges of the Vindhyas and the Satpuras, as it casts a permanent gaze on the Sardar Sarovar Dam that spans the river.
Given below are some statistics, fun facts and details of whatever I know about the place which I visited on a tour organized by my hosts at Madhav Bagh Royal Heritage stay, Vadodara.
The Statue of Unity (SoU) is so named because Sardar Patel was the key person instrumental in the unification of independent India. After India freed itself from the British rule, Patel visited each of the 565 self governing princely states that the country was fragmented into and persuaded them to merge with the Indian union. This also earned him the sobriquet of Iron Man of India.
‘My statue tallest’ –
The statue at a height of 182 meters (597 feet), is twice that of the Statue of Liberty and beats the previous world record held by China’s Spring Temple Buddha.
This information also lines the walls of the lift within the statue but since I could not get a picture of the entire frame, I am also adding a picture that I got on the Statue of Unity website.
A few statistics about the statue –
The height was set at 182 meters because that is the number of seats in Gujarat Legislative Assembly.
The architect was the noted sculptor Ram Vanji Sutar who was 90 years old when he designed it.
Larsen and Toubro undertook the contract for the construction.
The construction was completed within a span of 33 months.
Iron in the form of used agricultural equipment, was collected from farmers all over the country in the Loha (iron) campaign, to use in the construction and this now forms the base of the statue.
The material used for the statue is a combination of reinforced steel, bronze, concrete and iron.
The statue can withstand wind speeds of up to 180 kmph and earthquakes upto 6.5 on the Richter Scale.
The 2 elevators run through the legs and can reach the height of 150 meters at a super speed of 40 seconds and can contain 26 adults at a time. The system is well organized and there are orderly queues everywhere.
Sardar Patil is clad in traditional dhoti, kurta, waistcoat and shawl.
Cost – nearly Rs 3000/- crores
The statue is divided into 5 zones and the first 3 are a part of what the public can access –
Zone 1 – The exhibition area (museum), mezzanine floor and roof.
Zone 2 – Extends to his thighs. The 2 elevators pass through his legs.
Zone 3 – At 150 meters, this the topmost zone that the public can go to and consists of a viewing gallery which is at the chest/button level of the statue. This can accommodate 200 people at a time and offers panoramic views. One one side is a view of the Satpura range and Narmada dam and the other side looks out on the Vindhya range.
Zone 4 – is a small area above zone 4, called the maintenance area.
Zone 5 – extends upwards from his shoulders to the top of the head.
The entire complex is built on the Narmada river 3 km downstream from the Sardar Sarovar dam and consists of a regular entrance gate, a VIP gate, entrance queuing plaza, Unity wall, approach bridge, statue plaza, statue base, actual statue, visitor’s center, souvenir shop, food court, medical facilities, washrooms etc.
Facilities available are travelators, lockers, golf cart transport, pick up and drop via jetty, bus services, parking lot etc.
There are a few shops outside the gate that sell local snacks and beverages and there is an Amul outlet that stocks cold items.
Unity Wall –
Located near the entrance, this wall is said to have been built by soil that has been collected from farmers from 1,69000 villages across all the states of India. It bears the inscription Ek Bharath Shrest Bharath (One India Great India) which is written in several Indian and foreign languages.
Other activities of interest –
Laser Show – There is a 30 min Laser show every evening at 7.30 pm. A visit to the nearby Sardar Sarovar dam, Valley of flowers and butterfly park via air conditioned buses, is included in the ticket. The buses ply frequently and one can spend as much time in the gardens and then come back to the statue by any returning bus. I did not have time to wait for this since I went in the morning.
Helicopter rides –
There is also a helicopter ride that offers stunning aerial view of the entire place, including the hills, the dam and of course the statue. The 10 min ride costs Rs 2900 and carries 7 people at a time. The ride has to be booked on the site.
Best time to visit –
Gujarat has harsh summers from April to July where temperatures touch even 48 deg c. July to end September is the rainy season, less hot than summer but stiflingly humid nevertheless. November to February is considered the best season to visit, with October and March on the fringe of pleasant weather.
The statue however, is open for viewing throughout the year.
What you should carry –
Carry a good pair of walking shoes and cap/hat. An umbrella or raincoat will be useful in the monsoon. Its a goo idea to carry water though food and drink are available at the food court but that is a bit of a walk away from the statue.
Where to stay –
There are a few hotels around the place like Ramada Encore hotel next to the Statue complex.
There is also the Tent City Narmada, which is said to operate on behalf of Gujarat Tourism and seems to be a convenient option with its 5 star category tents.
One can also stay in Vadodara and make a day trip to this place. I stayed at the Madhav Bagh Royal Heritage Stay in Vadodara.
Getting there –
Vadodara which is 100 km away, the nearest major city. It is well connected by all modes of transport.
Air – Vadodara airport operates a limited number of flights and is well connected to important cities like Ahmedabad and Mumbai. There is one direct flight from Bangalore which I flew on.
Rail – Vadodara is an important rail junction on the Western railway and is connected to many major cities.
Bus – Likewise there are good bus services to Vadodara.
Road – Roads are excellent in Gujarat and are a good option to getting to the city.
From Vadodara there are excellent roads to Kevadiya and cab/private vehicle or bus are the convenient means of transport.
Booking information –
Tickets can be booked at the site.
Timings for viewing – 8 am – 6 pm.
Weekly holiday – Monday
Ticket information –
The regular ticket includes access to the Shreshta Bharath Bhavan, wall of Unity, museum, audio visual gallery, food court, sound and light show, valley of flowers, Sardar Sarovar dam and the Statue of Unity minus the viewing deck at 150 meters. Priced at Rs 150/- per adult and Rs 90/- for those aged 3-15 years. Children below 3 years are free.
The Viewing gallery includes all of the above as well as access to the viewing deck at 150 meters. Priced at Rs 380/- per adult and Rs 230/- for those aged 3-15 years. Children below 3 years are free.
The Viewing gallery Express ticket includes all that is covered in the Viewing gallery ticket but one can skip the regular queue. Priced at Rs 1030/- per visitor.
One can also upgrade their ticket from regular to gallery, in case they suddenly change their mind after entering the museum section.
Sardar Sarovar Dam, Kevadiya Village Narmada, Gujarat, India
Please Note – This trip was made in collaboration with Madhav Bagh Royal Heritage Stay which hosted my trip to the Statue of Unity. The narrative is based on the inputs that I received from various sources as well as my own experiences.
Sep 19th, 2019