India has unveiled the world’s tallest statue, depicting one of the country’s independence leaders, in a lavish ceremony featuring fireworks, fighter jets and rose petals showered by helicopters.
The 182-metre sculpture of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, known as the Statue of Unity to commemorate his efforts to corral hundreds of princely states into the Indian union after independence, was revealed on Wednesday by the prime minister, Narendra Modi.
Huge crowds and more than 5,000 police officers gathered in a remote corner of Gujarat state for the ceremony, which has also sparked protests from local communities who say they were not compensated for the land used to erect the statue.
Modi said the structure, which is twice the size of New York’s Statue of Liberty, was “an answer to all those who question the existence of India”.
“The height of the statue is to remind the youth that the future of the country will be as huge as this,” he said, and is symbolic of “our engineering and technical prowess”.
The bronze-clad figure of Patel, which houses a memorial garden and museum in its base, cost an estimated 29.8bn rupees (£314m) and has been under construction for four years.Lifts have been installed to take up to 15,000 tourists each day to a viewing gallery about 152m high.
The admission fee is 350 rupees.