Can 'Statue of Unity' boost Indian tourism?
Updated 13:58, 06-Nov-2018
By Nayan Seth
Indian authorities expect the newly-completed "Statue of Unity" to be a major tourist destination for domestic and international travelers. But can this project really boost tourism in the country? 
The statue of Indian statesman and the country's first deputy prime minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (1875–1950) is located in Kevadiya Village in the Narmada District of the state of Gujarat. 
As the world's tallest statue, the "Statue of Unity" has a height of 182 meters, about four times as tall as the Statue of Liberty (excluding the pedestal) in New York. 
The statue was built at a cost of over 400 million US dollars. The construction was completed in mid-October 2018 and was inaugurated in a ceremony held on October 31, 2018, presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 
The picturesque surroundings along the Narmada River provide the perfect view of the statue.
The Indian government believes the statue has the potential to become India's biggest tourist attraction, after the Taj Mahal in the city of Agra. The authorities have focused on boosting tourism in the area.
The Statue of Unity is open to the public every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Apart from ticket counters at the venue, tourists can also book tickets online.
A lift inside the statue whisks visitors at a speed of four meters per second to a viewing gallery 135 meters in the air.
The Statue of Unity. /VCG Photo

The Statue of Unity. /VCG Photo

Inside the gigantic structure, there is a museum and an exhibition hall.
A nearby complex consists of a 17-km long valley of flowers and an audio-visual gallery.
Two tent cities with a total of 250 tents are being touted as one of the major attractions.
But connectivity remains the biggest concern. The nearest airport at Surat in the state of Gujarat is over 80 kms away from the statue. From Ahmedabad, the state's capital, the distance is more than 200 kms. There are no direct trains to the scenic spot. The nearest major railway station is at Vadodara, which is almost 90 kms from the site. Tourists would have to change trains from Vadodara to reach Kevadiya, around three kms from the statue. 
Authorities have set an ambitious target of attracting some 15,000 tourists a day. But experts say having no direct air or rail link could hamper these high expectations.