STATUE OF UNITY, Kevadiya Gujarat

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1. I had heard so much about Statue of Unity, Kevadiya but could visit only in February 2020. It is about a two hour’s drive from Baroda. This album showcases Patel’s statue i.e. 182 m, museum & laser show. Captions are about pic & Patel’s life.

2. The sheer size of the statue surprised amazed me. It is on Sadhu Bet islet in Narmada river. Perhaps someone should write a book on how did they conceptualise and make the statue.

3. Close up. Note the workmanship, hands and shawl. How did Vallabhai Patel become SARDAR? It was during the battle of Bardoli, in April 1928, that someone referred to Patel as the peasant’s Sardar. The appellation caught on.

4. Close-up of face. Captures Patel’s expressions as he was. Patel was born on October 31, 1875, family of land owners ie Patidars, modern day Patel. In 1936, Patel had his nose operated upon during which time his moustache was removed.

5. We entered through a long walk way post which are a series of steps that take you from one level to another. Walk up or take escalators. Everyone I saw looked excited and joyful, those happy moments captured through pictures.

6. The next few pictures are for one to realize the sheer size of the statue and how they have captured intricate details in the design. The white threads that you see in front are actually used by a trolley (with people) to go up the statue.

7. Patel joined London’s law colleges. Left India in 1910, returned in 1913 & practiced at Amdavad. Between 1913 & 1916 he became the highest paid lawyer in Amdavad. Offended by the appointment of John Shillidy as Municipal Commissioner of Ahmedabad, Patel’s friends urged him to enter the city board. Having won the election, he was by December 1917, a member of the city board and chairman of the sanitary committee.

8. Side view. Sun was setting, rays on the foot. Historical facts in captions taken from book, “Patel – A Life’ by Rajmohan Gandhi.”

9. Pic captures the entire statue. I cannot forget these words of Patel. On August 9, 1945 he said “The British talk of Hindu Muslim quarrels but who has thrust the burden on their shoulders. If they are sincere let them hand over to the Congress, league or international arbitration. Give me just a week’s rule over Britain, I will create such disagreements that England, Wales and Scotland will they will fight one another for ever.”

10. Side view, the dhoti is just like it would usually look. Right top, notice the strings and trolley. Learnings from visit, THINK BIG-focus on execution.

11. The design is so realistic. Close to Tent City are Shoolpaneshwar Temple, Rajvant Palace, Valley of Flowers, Zoo, Crocodile spotting at Sardar Sarovar Dam and Hiking. We were told about River Rafting facility too. Intent is to make it a tourist destination that offers something for all, besides the Statue of Unity ie the key attraction.

12. Side view. Pics so far took you for a Parikrama around the Statue of Unity. Over time they should plant more trees in area, make it a dense forest. Will reduce temperature because this part of Gujarat does get pretty hot in the summers.

13. One enters from the centre. Lovely landscape, right is Narmada Dam. Small hills. In the monsoons would be lush green. Next time hope to see the Zoo, Cactus Park, Butterfly Park and Mall where handicrafts & traditional textiles are sold.

14. It took some effort to click these happy faces. Just too many people on a Saturday evening.

15. Entrance to Museum that has pictures of Patel’s life, events before and after Independence, about the people who inhabit Kevadiya. Presentation quality is world class. There is an Audio Visual Gallery that depicts the life & times of Sardar Patel.

16. This dominates the museum, missed seeing who sculpted this wonderful piece.

17. There are many communities who live in Kevadiya. This one tells about the Rathwa community. On your return to Baroda, visit the Laxmi Vilas Palace & Sri Aurobindo’s home, both worth a visit.

18. This is Tent City where we stayed. Lovely tents-very good bathrooms. Complex has a huge hall where conference was held-sound system for presentations super. Good food. Chairs on right is where many chatted after the day’s proceedings were over. To know more visit Tent City site

19. Start Sound & Light Show on the unification of India. Gandhi told Patel around June 1947, “The problem of the states is so difficult that you only can solve it.” V P Menon said, “Having selected his men, Patel trusted them entirely to implement his policy. Sardar never assumed that he knew everything and he never adopted a policy without full and frank consultation.”

20. By about August 15, apart from the few states clearly destined to adhere to Pakistan, everyone both great & small had the signed Instruments of Accession barring Bhopal, Kashmir, Junagarh and Hyderabad. In Menon’s view, Vallabhai’s masterly handling of the princes was the foremost factor in the success of the accession policy.

21. Patel wrote to Hari Singh (Maharaja of Kashmir) on 21.9.1947, “Justice Meher Chand will convey to you personally the gist of our conversation on all matters affecting the interests of Kashmir. I have promised him full support and cooperation on our behalf.” Patel also got Guruji Golwalkar to fly to Srinagar on October 17. Guruji brought home to the Maharaja the futility of an independent Kashmir.

22. Patel in his youth. Excerpt from Patel speech 1947-48 when Sikhs intended to attack Muslim convoys enroute to Pakistan. “Pledge the safety of Muslim refugees crossing the city. If we have to fight, we must fight clean. Such a fight must wait an appropriate time and conditions and you must be watchful in choosing the ground.”

23. Farmers of Kheda district were going through trying times around 1915 onwards, yet demand for revenue. Post 1918, 200 peasants signed a pledge on March 22 not pay to revenue to the Raj. Patel was to address meeting of Kheda’s peasants at Nadiad, place of his birth. In place of suit, he wore Indian Clothes.

24. I heard huge claps from audience for Patel’s transformation from western to Indian wear.

25. During accession of Hyderabad crisis Patel said excerpts, “It is not the action of the Army which maintains law and order-look at Punjab last August, when 55k men could not stop massacres. It is the prestige of the govt backed by potential armed action, which keeps the people in order. But if the govt delays action in Hyderabad much longer, then its prestige will fall so greatly that no amount of troops will be sufficient for internal security.”

26. The climax of Patel’s striving, the Nizam’s defeat was the culmination of the process of history that brought Muslim rule over a Hindu majority to end. Acharya Kriplani said in 1974 “The Sardar was the greatest administrator we had.”

27. Patel passed away December 15, 1950. Rajaji said, “What inspiration, courage, confidence and force incarnate Vallabhai was! We will not see the like of him again.” Dr Rajendra Prasad said, “Sardar’s body is being consumed by fire but no fire on earth can consume his fame. We grieve for ourselves not for him.”

28. Lawn where visitors sat, Narmada Dam at end of pic. To see pics of Salt Desert-White Rann Kutch, where is Tent City Dhordo

29. Garden on banks of river. Design reminded me of houses in the Northeast. My article ‘Statue of Unity will do for Kevatia what Rann Utsav did for Kutch might be of interest.

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