India has unveiled the world’s tallest statue – a towering bronze tribute to one of the key figures of its independence movement.
The “Statue of Unity”, a 597-foot monument to the country’s first home minister after the end of British rule, Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, was opened in Kevadiya, Gujarat, on Wednesday.
Air force planes showered flower petals on the statue, thought to have cost in excess of $400m (£315m), during an elaborate ceremony attended by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi.
The sculpture is almost 180 feet taller than China’s Spring Temple Buddha, the previous largest statue on the planet.
It also dwarfs some of the most iconic monuments in the world, standing roughly four times the size of the Statue of Liberty in New York and six times the height of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer.
Patel was known as the “Iron Man of India” for integrating various states in the post-independence era, during a time when the creation of Pakistan had sparked massive bloodshed between Hindus and Muslims in the region.
The statue, in the prime minister’s home state, is part of his Hindu nationalist party’s policy to re-invigorate the myths surrounding what it calls the country’s “forgotten” leaders.
“Patel wanted India to be a forceful, strong, sensitive, vigilant and accommodative nation, and we’re working towards that,” Mr Modi said at the monument’s unveiling ceremony.