The Statue of Unity: India’s Modern Heritage

Pragya Sharma Apr 18, 2022 0

The Indian subcontinent is a place of rich history, heritage, and culture. The country has been ruled and led by pioneering figures who contributed significantly to the history of the land. One such pivotal person was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first home minister of independent India. Titled as the “Iron Man of India”, Patel was responsible for the unification of 563 princely states in the country, which helped in shaping India into the Republic of India. 

Born in 1875 in Mumbai (then Bombay Presidency), he essayed the roles of a barrister, freedom fighter, politician, and activist all through his life. He was posthumously awarded the highest civilian award in India – Bharat Ratna in 1991. 

To pay homage to Patel’s efforts in shaping the Republic of India, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi in 2010 announced his vision for the creation of the “Statue of Unity”. The construction of the monumental project began in 2014. The site of the project was proposed in Patel’s native state, at the Sadhu-Bet Island, Gujarat, on the banks of River Narmada. The project site abuts the Sardar Sarovar Dam while overlooking the mountain ranges of Vindhya and Satpura on either side.

Completed in 2018, the project was ambitious and of global significance, because it was conceptualised to be built as the tallest statue in the world. Constructed in a timespan of 33 months, the statue is one-of-its-kind and stands tall with a height of 182 m (ca. 597 ft). 

Statistical and Factual Details

The project site that presently houses the Statue of Unity is manifested for more developments in the future. The site intends to serve as a recreational space and is therefore being planned to accommodate resorts. The master plans have been drawn out by the American architecture firm, Michael Graves Architecture & Design. The Statue of Unity project spread across an area of 20,000 sq.m. cost the Indian government a whopping Rs. 3,000 crores. 

The statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is designed by the renowned sculptor and Padma Bhushan recipient, Ram V Sutar. The statue adorns a traditional dhoti and shawl look. The tall and formidable statue looks humble yet unfazed and unafraid, and is surrounded by an artificial lake.

The Statue of Unity is built by Larsen and Toubro (L&T) along with the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (a state-run body). It has been clad in bronze by Jiangxi Toqine Compan, a Chinese foundry. The base of the statue is constructed with over 129 tonnes of scrap iron received as a donation from Indian farmers to further signify the title of Patel as the “Iron Man of India”.

Design and Execution 

The Statue of Unity is designed in the essence of its name. The architecture of the statue and its site are homogeneous with Indian culture. This has been depicted through smaller design elements. For instance, the rammed earth background wall for the national flag is built from soil taken from every Indian state, representing unity. The local remembrance can be seen yet again in deciding the height of the statue. The number of total democratic assembly constituencies in Gujarat is 182 which was finalised to be the height of the Statue of Unity. 

A pedestrian walkway connecting the Statue’s island to the main Sandhu-Bet Island provides an astounding focal point of Sardar Patel’s statue. Another walkway is a 3.2 km long bridge that connects the statue to the town of Kevadia, Gujarat. 

The Statue of Unity complex can accommodate 200 visitors at once. The site houses a viewing gallery elevated at a height of 193 m above sea level, along with a museum and a research centre. The exhibits and displays therein showcase the life and work of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel through photographs and videos. The other spaces within the complex include a memorial garden, guest lodging, and a visitor’s centre. 

The state of Gujarat is in a very high seismic zone that has witnessed 9 major earthquakes over the past two centuries. Hence, designing the Statue of Unity’s sky-scraping structure to be seismic-proof was necessary. The Statue of Unity is built as a three-layered structure, which makes it stable to withstand earthquakes and severe winds. It is built to withstand earthquakes with an intensity up to 6.5 Richter scale and can withstand wind velocity up to 60 m per second. 

The chest of the statue displays the structural details of the micro-panel modules that create the sculpture. The viewing area in the statue’s chest also provides panoramic views of River Narmada and the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary located nearby.

Community Impact

Although the Statue of Unity was built to be the world’s tallest, more such ambitious projects are following its line. Speaking of India, the country is looking forward to constructing a 695 ft (ca. 212 m) tall statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj off the coast of Mumbai. However, whether the Statue of Unity continues to be the tallest statue in the world, its national significance cannot be overlooked. 

In the context of urban impact, the construction of the Statue of Unity has proved to be a boon for the economy of Gujarat. The development of an iconic project such as the Statue of Unity automatically impacts the surrounding areas. Real estate and infrastructure development is expected to grow exponentially in Kevadia, Vadodara, Surat, and Ahmedabad. 

The rise in tourist footfall will further fuel this surge of development. Developing state-of-the-art transportation, accommodation, and healthcare amenities will help tourism to thrive in the state. This will assist in generation of employment for the local people, thereby improving their standards of living. More so, projects of such magnanimous scale are the ones that become the heritage of the future. Generations to come will look up to the Statue of Unity complex as a symbol of India’s solidarity and modern history, making it a structure of national and urban importance. The acknowledgment of this fact can be seen from the vision of how the bronze colour of the statue will turn green through the natural ageing process in the next 100 years.

The Statue of Unity was nominated in 2019 for the globally-acclaimed World Architecture News Awards. In the light of this, S.N. Subrahmanyan, CEO, and MD of L&T said “The Statue of Unity was by far one of the most complex and challenging assignments we have executed, and being featured along with several other global engineering marvels is a truly remarkable achievement, not only for L&T but for the entire nation.” This editorial bit signifies how every stakeholder in the project has had an immaculate understanding of the statue’s significance. Such cohesiveness and forward-thinking approach to design by maintaining the connection with the locale context is what makes the Statue of Unity project remarkable.


  1. Michael Graves Architecture completes the world’s tallest statue
  2. Statue Of Unity: The Latest Architecture and News
  3. Statue of Unity enters 2019 World Architecture News Awards
  4. India unveils world’s tallest statue

Disclaimer: The information contained herein have been compiled or arrived at, based upon information obtained in good faith from sources believed to be reliable. The opinions expressed within the content are solely the author’s and can be subject to change. The image featured in this article is only for illustration purposes. If you wish the article to be removed or edited, please send an email to


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