India’s statues are going up – and up. However, these aren’t mere vanity projects; they have a religious purpose and send out a powerful message.
10. Basava, Basavakalyana
Rising to 108 feet, this is the world’s highest likeness of the twelfth-century Indian philosopher and poet Lord Basava, but it also educates – the concrete-and-steel sculpture by Sridhar Murthy sits on a platform that can screen shows about this reformer and statesman.
9. Hanuman, Damanjodi, Koraput
Hanuman is a devoted follower of Lord Rama and a central character in Ramayana epics, so his statue in the state of Odisha is suitably impressive. Made of ashtadhatu, a metal alloy that includes gold and silver, it’s his second highest worldwide at just over 108 feet.
8. Adiyogi Shiva Statue, Coimbatore
In 500 tonnes of steel and recognised as the world’s biggest sculpted head-and-shoulders bust, its 112-foot height symbolises the 112 ways that people can reach their potential, as taught by Adiyogi (a form of Lord Shiva considered by Hindus as the first yogi).
7. Shiva of Murudeshwara
At 121 feet, this is the highest statue of Lord Shiva in India, and the second tallest anywhere. Around his throne, smaller sculptures depict scenes from Hindu mythology, while the sun’s rays turn the whole to gold, against the stunning backdrop of the Arabian Sea.
6. Padmasambhava in Riwalsar
This 123-foot-high gilded structure celebrates the eighth-century Indian Buddhist master, also called Guru Rinpoche, who is patron saint of Sikkim in north-east India. The statue incorporates a repository of old photos, including some of Mahatma Gandhi. The guru also founded Tibetan Buddhism, and fittingly, the foundation stone was put in place by the Dalai Lama.
5. Dhyana Buddha of Amaravathi
On the banks of the Krishna river in the historic town of Amaravathi, the Dhyana Buddha sits at 125 feet high in 4.5 acres of parkland, with 8 pillars on a Lotus panda, while a museum in its base contains sculpted Buddhist scenes.
4. Tathagata Tsal, Ravangla
Another Buddha situated in Sikkim, this 128-feet-tall statue in hammered copper was named and consecrated by the Dalai Lama. A room underneath the throne is embellished with fierce gods inside, and depictions of the Buddha’s life outside.
3. Thiruvalluvar in Tamil Nadu
All 133 feet of this stone monument to the Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar records the Thirukkural, his classic text on virtue, wealth and love. The 95-foot-tall statue itself stands on a 38-foot-high pedestal, on a small island at the convergence of the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.
2. Veera Abhaya Anjaneya Hanuman Swami
Located near Vijayawada, 30 kilometres from Andra Pradesh, this construction sits within the grounds of the Paritala Anjaneya Swami Temple. It’s not only the tallest Hanuman in the world, it’s also India’s highest statue at 135 feet – for the time being.
1. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Gujarat
By late 2018, a 600-foot steel and bronze statue of the 17th-century Hindu warrior Shivaji should be towering over Mumbai from an artificial island. It wil be the tallest statue in the world! Critics denounce it as extravagant in the face of the poverty around it, but supporters argue that its prestige is needed. Will Shivaji agree as he gazes down on the teeming streets?