VADODARA: When the Statue of Unity (SoU) was dedicated to public in October 2018, doubts were raised if tourists would visit Kevadia for viewing the statue of India’s first home minister, Sardar Patel. But the world’s tallest statue has surpassed all the expectations.
Within 30 months, over 50 lakh tourists visited the statue that is located on the banks of Narmada River. Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNL) managing director, Rajiv Gupta tweeted on Monday ‘Statue of Unity crosses five million visitors mark.’ He added that the monument built under the visionary leadership of PMO has emerged as an international tourist destination, offering multiple attractions for all age groups.
After being inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi, the 182-metre statue became quite popular with the tourists. The SoU authorities soon added other attractions including Jungle Safari, butterfly park, cactus park, river rafting and cruise in the tourist zone.
In fact, within a year of its inauguration, the SoU surpassed the footfall of Statue of Liberty in the USA. SoU officials claimed that in November 2019, SoU saw an average daily footfall of 15,036 in comparison to Statue of Liberty’s 10,000.
In August last year, the TIME Magazine included SoU in its prestigious list of World’s Greatest Places — a compilation of 100 new and noteworthy destinations to experience in the year. SoU was closed for tourists during the lockdown but after it opened in October visitors’ flow picked up.
The seaplane service between Ahmedabad and SoU further gave a boost to the tourists’ number. SoU spokesperson said that the number of visitors shot up sharply on extended weekends, holidays and New Year Eve. At times it became difficult to manage the rush, said the spokesperson.
One of the major attractions at the SoU is the Jungle Safari — a zoological park spread over 375 acres. The park is home to 350 exotic animals such as giraffe, zebra, impala, bison, lion, tiger, leopard and various and bird species. Gujarat’s first a crocodile park, which will also act as a breeding centre for the reptiles, is also planned at the SoU in future.