By Sierra Lawson

What’s the tallest structure that you’ve ever seen? Maybe it was a skyscraper that brushed against the clouds. Or perhaps it was a mountain top when you went hiking in LA that one summer.

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Those are nice, but how about a freestanding full-bodied statue? I want to talk about the tallest statue in the world that stands at a whopping 597 feet; The Statue of Unity.

(If you include the pedestal it’s on, you can bump that up to 790 feet)

But before we get into that, we should probably talk about how the statue came to be.

Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel

Patel, also known as the Iron Man of India, was an Independence activist and statesman from India, born on October 31st, 1875.

He held many roles throughout his life such as Lawyer, Barrister, President, and Senior Leader to the India National Congress.

He was also the first Deputy Prime Minister of Independent India and was a devout follower of Mahatma Gandhi. Patel has been dubbed the Patron Saint of India’s Civil Servants and the Unifier of India.

The Indian Revolution

In 1918, British forces were adamant about collecting total annual revenue taxes from poor farmers and landowners, even though they were suffering a famine due to crop failures from heavy rains.

After meeting and hearing Gandhi’s teachings of the importance of attaining independence for India via a non-violent approach, Patel was forever changed. He was inspired to stand together with his Indian brothers and refuse to pay the tax.

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Patel (left) and Ghandi (right)

After almost ten years of rallying the forces, Patel, the farmers, and landowners were successful in their campaign, but the British marked him as an enemy.

However, he won the heart of the Indian people, who lovingly adorned him with the title Sardar, which means leader.

After partnering with Gandhi, and often in direct opposition to his counterparts in government, he was significant in creating a free India within a British Commonwealth so that Indians could be both self-confident and self-reliant.

During his time as Home Minister of India, Patel is credited with leading India’s fight for independence from the British and integrating India into becoming a united nation.

That may not sound like a lot. But at the time, Britain wasn’t the only governing body in power in India.

There were also 562 princely states that were subject to local rulers. Sardar Patel worked alongside a tireless group to bring them all together.

Patel did this by helping to ratify a Fundamental Rights and Economics Policy that gave the Indian people basic civil rights, free and compulsory education, substantial reductions in taxes, a minimum wage, and protection orders for women and peasants.

The Statue of Unity

Because of his immeasurable and dearly respected contributions and influence leading to Indian independence, the Indian Government announced plans to erect the Statue of Unity in 2010.

The statue, taller than the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., lives on the Narmada River in the Indian state of Gujarat.

Construction of the statue started in 2013 and was completed in 2018. The cost of the statue’s structure was an estimated $422 million in US dollars.

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From left to right - Statue of Unity, Spring Temple Buddha, Statue of Liberty, The Motherland Calls, Christ the Redeemer Michelangelo’s David. (Heights on the left are in meters)

Within the statue is a museum, garden, and gallery open to the public year-round.

It is also rumored that local farmers donated somewhere as much as 5000 tons worth of used farm equipment to collect the metal needed for this massive piece.

Also in honor of Sardar Patel, his birthday, October 31st, is named Rashtriya Ekta Diwas, which is National Unity Day in India.

Patel also has at least 15 other structures, statues, and buildings dedicated to him throughout India, although none quite as striking in size as the Statue of Unity.

If I do say so myself, The Statue of Unity most certainly fits the contributions of the man, which are both larger than life.

One could only hope to have the passion lived in their life and the legacy they imparted upon millions to be commemorated in such a magnificent way.