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HIS big toe is roughly the height of a bas­ket­ball hoop.

You would have to climb 182m into the sky to reach the top of the Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest statue and a trib­ute to Sar­dar Val­lab­hb­hai Patel, an In­dian in­de­pen­dence leader who was cru­cial in unit­ing a frac­tured coun­try.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi was on hand last Wed­nes­day – Patel’s birth­day, known as Na­tional Unity Day – to un­veil the mam­moth statue, which looks over green hills and the Nar­mada River in the western state of Gu­jarat.

For per­spec­tive: it is al­most twice the height of the Statue of Lib­erty, which, in­clud­ing the pedestal, reaches to 92m.

With­out her pedestal, it would take more than five Lady Lib­er­tys stand­ing head-to-toe to reach the statue’s head (or four if you count the tip of her torch).

It is the equiv­a­lent of al­most two Amer­i­can foot­ball fields stacked ver­ti­cally, mi­nus the end zones.

The statue was de­signed by Ram V Su­tar, 93, who is among his­tory’s most pro­lific mon­u­men­tal sculp­tors.

It opened over the ob­jec­tions of lo­cal tribal lead­ers who were up­set by the de­struc­tion of land for the project and the $400 mil­lion (R5.8 bil­lion) price tag.

Cur­rent-day In­dian politicians have been eager to as­so­ciate them­selves with in­de­pen­dence lead­ers.

Val­lab­hb­hai was In­dia’s first deputy prime min­is­ter.

The statue claimed the ti­tle of the world’s tallest from the Spring Tem­ple Bud­dha in Lushan, China, which reaches a height of 128m.

But it will not re­main the tallest for long. In­dia is plan­ning to open the Ch­ha­tra­p­ati Shivaji Maharaj Me­mo­rial in 2021 on a six-hectare plot in the Ara­bian Sea, reach­ing 212m into the sky.

It will hon­our a war­rior king who founded the Maratha King­dom and died in 1680. – New York Times

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