The construction site of the Statue of Unity portraying Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, in Kavadia. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

Standing at 182 meters, the Statue of Unity is the world’s tallest and biggest statue and was opened at a ceremony on October 31.

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the lavish ceremony was officiated by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and featured fireworks, f**********s and rose petals showered by helicopters.

Situated in the Gujarat State, the statue is of independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and as per PM Modi is “an answer to all those who question the existence of India”.

It is bronze-clad and houses a memorial garden and museum in its base. At around Ksh41 billion, the Statue of Unity has been under construction for four years.

A CNN report says that the record-breaking monument depicts the Indian politician wearing humble clothing and a placid expression. His arms hang calmly beside an unmistakable paunch; his bare toes protrude from oversized bronze sandals.

Lifts have been installed to take an average of 15,000 tourists to heights of upto 152m, with entrance fees being charged at 350 rupees (around Ksh500).

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Patel was India’s first ever Deputy prime Minister and is credited with efforts to unite the nation prior to independence in 1947.

The statue is twice the size of the Statue of Liberty which stands at 92m, and has surpassed the 128m Spring Buddha Temple in China which held the previous height record breaking monument title.

The Statue of Unity will however be toppled in two years time with a 212m monument of a king called the Chhatrapati Shivaji Memorial statue set to be opened in Mumbai.

Statue of Unity?

Terming it as a symbol of India’s engineering and technical prowess, the Prime Minister said that, “The height of the statue is to remind the youth that the future of the country will be as huge as this.”

The world’s tallest statue however is not without its detractors, with AFP reporting that protests could have been averted by police in the lead up to the opening ceremony as local village leaders had signed a letter telling Modi to stay away from the inauguration.

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One local legislator told AFP, “I am not against Sardar, but what is the use of the statue if the people on the land have to suffer and are moved from their homes?”

In the lead up to the building of the statue, 185 families were moved to accommodate the structure and received compensation and 1,200 acres of new land, according to the Gujarat government.

As per AFP, posters of Modi with the Gujarat chief minister, Vijay Rupani, were torn down or had their faces blackened at the weekend. Police kept watch on posters put in place of the torn ones.

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