India

Tallest statue in the world takes shape in India

A 182m (600ft) high tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel under construction in Gujarat state. Image copyright AFP
Image caption The statue is being built as a tribute to a Hindu nationalist politician

The world's tallest statue is nearing completion in India.

It is designed to be a 182m (600ft) high tribute to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, a hero in India's independence struggle, in Gujarat state.

The Spring Temple Buddha in China is currently the world's biggest statue at 128 metres.

India's statue has cost 29.9bn rupees (£330m; $430m) and is seen as a pet project of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The "Statue of Unity", as it is known, will be inaugurated by the Indian leader on 31 October.

A view of the construction site of the "Statue of Unity" portraying Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the founding fathers of India, is seen during a media tour in Kavadia in the western state of Gujarat, India on 25 August 2018. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Sardar Patel is revered by many Hindu nationalists

Mr Patel was a deputy to India's prime minister after independence in 1947.

The nationalist was known as the "Iron Man of India" after he persuaded feuding states to unite and become part of the Indian state after independence.

Gujarat's Chief Minister Vijaybhai Rupani (C) gestures next to Gujarat"s Deputy Chief Minister Nitinbhai Patel (L) during their visit to the Statue Of Unity on 25 August 2018 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Indian nationalist politicians have used Mr Patel's legacy during election campaigns

Many Hindu nationalists feel his place in history was overlooked in favour of the Nehru dynasty, which came to dominate Indian politics.

While campaigning to becoming India's prime minister in 2013, Mr Modi said "Every Indian regrets Sardar Patel did not become the first prime minister".

Once completed, the bronze-clad statue - which was begun in 2013 - will be nearly twice as tall as New York's Statue of Liberty.

It is hoped the site will become a significant tourist attraction for the country's westernmost state.

The statue alongside a construction truck in a rural part of Gujarat state Image copyright AFP
Image caption The statue is in an isolated part of Gujarat state in the west of India

There will be a viewing gallery some 153m up, near the chest of the statue.

The statue to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel under construction, with scaffolding and a crane in shot Image copyright AFP
Image caption A viewing platform will be located over three-quarters of the way up

The statue is located some 200km (125 miles) from the state's main city, Ahmedabad.

Workers smile near the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel statue on in Gujarat state. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Thousands of workers are constructing the statue in Gujarat

More than 2,500 workers are working to get the statue ready in time, with several hundred migrant labourers from China also contributing to the efforts.

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