New Delhi: Days after its inauguration, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Statue of Unity is attracting thousands of tourists daily to Gujarat’s Narmada district . If everything goes according to plan, the state will soon have another giant statue to boast of. Although not as high as the Statue of Unity, which is the world’s tallest at a height of 182 meters, the gigantic Buddha statue will be 80-feet tall.
Unlike the Statue of Unity, the Lord Buddha statue has not been planned by the Gujarat government but by a Buddhist body, Sanghakaya Foundation, in Gandhinagar district. The non-profit organisation has now sought land from the state government for construction of the project.
According to a PTI report, Noida-based sculptor Ram Sutar, who designed the famous Statue of Unity, has been roped in for the project. Sanghakaya Foundation president Bhante Prashil Ratna said contrary to the belief that ancient Buddhist sites exist only in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and further to the north, Gujarat, too, has been blessed with such sites.
“Like Nalanda and Takshashila, records of Chinese traveller Xuanzang mention that there was a big Buddhist university called Vallabhi at Bhavnagar in Gujarat. As (ancient) Nalanda university has been revived, we wish to revive Vallabhi university here," he said. The organisation has already got land in Gandhinagar from the Gujarat government to start a Buddhist university.
Inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31, the Statue of Unity is the latest tourist attraction in Gujarat. Visitors who take high-speed lifts from inside the statue to reach a height of 135 metres are left mesmerised by the sheer natural beauty of Satpura and Vindhyachal hill ranges as well as the Sardar Sarobar dam on the Narmada river. The opportunity to enjoy a bird’s eye view from atop the viewing gallery constructed at the chest level of the statue is adding to the magnetic appeal of the monument.