My curiosity was at its peak when I got an opportunity to visit the Statue of Unity, the tallest statue in the world! Would it live up to the hype? Or would I find it underwhelming? I have to say I came back impressed after the visit!
I was invited by the Gujarat Tourism Board for a visit to the state during the International Kite Festival in January this year. I was lucky to visit the Statue of Unity, dedicated to Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel during the kite festival as it provides for once in a year kind of photo opportunities! Sardar Patel is credited with bringing forth the political integration of India after independence.
The first thing that impressed me was of course the scale of the project. People take a lot of pride in explaining about how the work was completed, the dedication of the people working on it, the technical obstacles and how they were overcome! At 182 meters the Sardar’s statue is the tallest in the world!
I was dazzled by the infrastructure surrounding the statue. There are escalators, high speed lifts, selfie spots, toilets, cafes and more. Not only the statue but the whole area has been developed in a way that befits the tallest statue in the world.
Many school children visit the dazzling monument. They get to see world class facilities and infrastructure right in their backyard from childhood. I hope they will have higher expectations from the country than the previous generations!
I visited the viewing gallery at the 153 meters. The jalis in the jacket of the statue gives a panoramic view of the Sardar Sarovar dam and the Narmada River. I visited it during the mid day when the sunlight is harsh. The photographer in me wants to visit it around the closing time of 6.00 pm when the light would be so much better!
There is a high tech, multimedia museum at the base of the statue. Due to lack of time, I could not spend much time. But it is gleaming and sleek in appearance!
Tent City in Kevadia is where I stayed. As I have stayed in the Rann of Kutch Tent City too, I was comparing them all the time! I have to stay both have their unique features and provide for a comfortable stay.
My group got an opportunity to visit the Valley of Flowers and the Narmada Dam viewing area and both are welcome additions to the trip.
Some would say the 3000 crores spent on building the Statue of Unity could have been spent elsewhere. I would say my country has seen bigger scams than this! I am happy to see a wold class project in my own country, I hope the area will benefit because of the project.
For functional details like opening times, ticket cost, closed days etc. do visit the official Statue of Unity website.
After a few minutes inside the Dandi Kutir Museum I was reminded of the museums in Sharjah and Dubai. I had seen such use of technology only in those places. So, it was a pleasant surprise to find such a modern museum closer home.
Dabdi Kutir is the world’s largest museum devoted to the life and teachings of one person, Mahatma Gandhi! As our group walked towards the building, the exteriors looked impressive and unusual! Our guide pointed out that the building resembled a salt heap to commemorate the Dandi Yatra led by Mahatma Gandhi!
We were given audio guides at the entrance, mine was in English. I have used audio guides in many museums in different parts of the world, the last one at the Palace of Versailles in France! But Dandi Kutir is a step ahead! There was no press one, press two here. The audio guide worked on the wireless, you just need to go and stand near an exhibit and it would start explaining about the event automatically!
The exhibits are divided in five parts and across a few floors, named The Early Life, Life in London and Back Home, Life in South Africa, Return to India and Satyagraha and Road to Independence! Even if done at a fast pace it will take 1.5 hours to go through the journey. I would say, plan for more time.
I got so engrossed in listening to the vairious incidents related to Mahatma Gandhi’s life that our guide had to bully me into moving forward. There are two scenarios in the museum that still remain with me, in spite of our lack of time and all.
In one scenario we board a train that Mahatma took for a meeting in UP. As you sit, you start to feel as if the train is moving and you are really sitting inside it! The second one is about a meeting in South Africa. All the visitors sit in a circle in the middle of the room and when the audio-visuals go off, you feel as if you are a part of that meeting.
The entry fee for Indians is Rupees 10 and Rupees 200 for foreigners. A lot of school and college going students visit the museum. If school kids start seeing such clean, well planned and executed spaces right in their backyards, they will probably start demanding it as a norm!
Even though photography is not allowed within the museum, we were given special permission to click a few pictures from the reception. That is how I got the pictures of the interiors. You can photograph the monument from the outside.
Visiting Dandi Kutir Museum was a surprise for me, I did not expect such a high-tech museum in my backyard! I hope to see more such world class projects in our country!
PS. I was invited on this trip to Gujarat Gujarat Tourism Board!
I am Mridula Dwivedi, I love to travel! I started my travel blog in 2005. I have been going places since! For more details do check out my media kit! In another life I did a Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur. I was a professor when I quit my job in 2015.
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