The Statue of Unity is the tallest statue and the most visited statue in the world. It is located 100 km southeast of the city of Vadodara. The statue is in standing posture with both hands are placed on the side faces the Sardar Sarovar dam on river Narmada. The statue of the Sardar Patel is an aged one around the time of Independence, wearing kurta-dhoti, a Jacket and a shawl. The facial expressions are so well designed that it reflects his true "Iron Man" spirit.
The Statue of Unity was first announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister of Gujarat in 2013. For building up the statue, a nationwide Iron collection campaign was initiated, in which farmers were asked to donate their used iron farming instruments for making the structure. Apart from this, soil collected from all parts of the country is used to create the foundation of this place and a wall known as wall of unity underlying the theme of unity and integrity of the nation. The statue model is designed by the architect, Ram V Sutar. The construction began in 2013 and the 182-meter-tall statue was opened for public in November 2018.
My vacation was about to over and still we haven't visited the Statue. One reason was the winter vacation crowd which I want to avoid and second was the online ticket for the viewing gallery which I was unable to get. Anyway, we decided to visit the statue in the first week of January after the schools reopening. But everything did not work well as I have planned. We want to avoid the vacation rush but we were greeted by thousands of school students in groups visiting on the same day. There was rush everywhere but still we managed to see most of the things. We rented a car for our day trip from Vadodara. Paid car parking is available near the monument which will cost ₹ 150. Once parking is paid here, there is no additional parking charges near the valley of flowers.
Types of Tickets
There are attractions scattered on both side of the banks of Narmada. Most of the people visiting the Statue of Unity limit their visit up to the Statue of Unity and the glow Garden. There are 2 sets of ticket available.
The first type of ticket for the left bank of Narmada River include Statue of Unity, Sound and Light Show, Valley of Flowers, Glow Garden and Sardar Sarovar Dam View Point.
The places covered in second type of ticket are mostly on the right bank of Narmada river which includes Vishwa Van, Ekta Nursery, Butterfly Park, Cactus Garden and Zarwani waterfall. (seasonal waterfall) Most of these places can be visited with an individual ticket and for a combine ticket for all the attractions for ₹ 250.
Tickets for the Statue of Unity
For viewing the Statue of Unity there are three type of tickets to choose from;
Basic entry ticket
The basic entry ticket give you access to the Museum, Gallery, outside observation deck near the foot of the Statue, Sound & Light show in the evening, Valley of Flowers, Glow garden, Sardar Sarovar Dam Viewpoints. This ticket also includes the bus services for the movement between the tourist information center and different attractions. Ticket for ₹ 150 for adults and ₹ 90 for children (including ₹ 30 for bus ticket).
Viewing Gallery ticket
Next is the Viewing Gallery ticket for ₹380 for adults and ₹230 for children, which includes all the benefit Basic entry ticket along with the access to the Statue of Unity Viewing Gallery located 400 feet above ground, offering a bird's eye view of the surroundings and panoramic view of the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
There is also a Skip the line or Express ticket available at a premium. This is a priority 'Viewing Gallery Ticket' and you don't have to wait in the queue. Express Entry Ticket costs ₹ 1030 for Indian citizens. Cost of the ticket is same for adults and children. For Foreign nationals the Express Entry Ticket cost ₹ 1530 for adults and ₹ 830 for children.
Things to Know
All types of Tickets are sold at the visitor center at Kevadiya (7:30 AM to 5:00 PM), Near the Statue of Unity entrance (7:30 AM to 5:30 PM) and online at http://www.soutickets.in When you buy ticket of viewing gallery, you need to select date and time slot (2 Hrs) for your visit. There is a daily cap on the number of visitors in viewing gallery and once the daily capacity of visitors is over, online ticket sale will end. If you have booked your ticket online, keep a Soft copy or Hard Copy of the Ticket with you for scanning at the entrance gate. The monument is closed on Mondays. Its open from Tue to Sun from 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM. There are few items which are restricted in the Statue of Unity premises. You are not allowed to carry outside food, liquor, lighters, matches, flammable objects, huge backpacks and drone cameras.
Statue of Unity Exhibition Hall/ Museum
At the entrance of the monument your ticket will be scanned and you will be frisked. After the security check head straight to the SOU museum. Both side of the path is shaded and travellators are installed up to the museum. Wheelchairs are also available on request at the entrance.
Once you enter inside the exhibition hall which has been set up in the pedestal of the Statue of Unity, you can see the brass structure of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel which is a scale model of the actual Statue of Unity. The image used for making the statue was around the time of India's independence and his age and the expressions on the face are notable. There is also a replica of the actual head of the statue inside which gives you an idea of the actual size of the head and the facial expressions.
Replica of the head of Statue of Unity
Scale model of the Statue of Unity
After crossing these statues, you will see several wall posters showing the life of Sardar Patel and India struggle movements. The exhibition hall has 40,000 documents and 2,000 photographs which includes old newspapers showing important freedom struggle-movements and wall posters of all the leaders of freedom struggle. Also, you can see the changing province of India before and after Independence.
Theaters inside the exhibition hall
The is a library inside which contains a great collection of Books based on Sardar Vallabh bhai Patel. There are also few small theaters inside which continuously plays a small documentary film on Sardar Vallabh bhai Patel, freedom struggle, about the state and the tribal culture along with the information about the Statue of Unity and how it was built from October 2013 to October 2018.
Inside the exhibition center there is a lift inside each of the statue's legs that can carry 26 people to the viewing gallery in half a minute. The Viewing Gallery is at the chest level of the statue at 153 Meter and it can accommodate up to 200 visitors. We don't get tickets for the Viewing gallery, so we left the exhibition center and came to the open area observation deck near the foot of the statue. From far away the statue is not looking so big until you reach up to Sardar Patel's toes. From here you will get an idea about the statue's actual height comparing your height against the statue's toes.
On average you can spend around 2 hours at the Statue of Unity Museum and viewing gallery only.
Tour of Valley of Flowers and Glow Garden
Glow Garden at SOU
From the statue of Unity there are regular bus service which will take you to the valley of flowers which is towards the dam side. You can also go there by your own car and park your car there on the same parking ticket.
The Valley of Flowers is spread over a huge area with beautiful landscape garden with a mix of artificial and natural flowers and River Narmada in the background. The place has a very good collection of colorful flowers. The garden has a proper walkway with plants grown in such a manner that there will be enough shade which make the garden comfortable during the day. Colorful plants are shaped in the form of various animals like tiger, peacock, and elephants which is a great attraction. Besides the parks, there are many monument/Structures, photo booths and selfie points inside the park to take back memories of your visit.
Glow garden is located next to the Valley of flowers and It's illuminated just after sunset. Most of the trees, plants or animals in the glow garden are made of plastic which looks awful during the day time. Spend your time in the valley of flowers till the sunset and then come to the glow garden. All the awful looking things will start looking awesome. From the glow garden there is a beautiful decorated path which will take you to the dam view point which lights up in tricolor.
SOU Light and Sound show
After visiting the Valley of flowers, glow garden and the Dam its time to return to the statue of unity for the laser light and sound show.
I suggest you to first visit the Museum and the viewing gallery during the broad daylight hours to get the best view of the surrounding hills and the dam. Then 1 hour before sunset proceed to the valley of flowers. Spend your time in valley of flowers till the sunset. At Twilight hours watch the glow garden which otherwise not look so great during the day time. After visiting valley of Flower and Glow Garden return to the statue before 7:30 to see the laser light and sound show.
Light and Sound show
A Light and Sound show using laser technology projection on the Statue of Unity takes place every evening except Monday at 7:30 PM. This light and sound show can be watched without any ticket from any place between valley of flower to statue of unity or the roads connecting them. But the ideal place is near the statue of unity where sitting arrangements are made and you can listen the narration also. The colorful laser light show is accompanied by an excellent narration of the history and life of Sardar Patel, his contribution to the Independence movement and the unification of India as one nation. The 30 minutes show is narrated in Hindi.
Things to explore nearby
Other than the Statue of Unity monument there are many more attractions nearby which are worth visiting and many more activities you can do if you have a full day at your disposal.
Dam View points
Other then the Statue observation deck there are three more Dam view points which can be reached by the bus. Dam view points and transport is included in all the tickets. In my opinion the best time for visiting the dam is during or at the end of monsoon season when dam management is releasing water.
It contains herbs, shrubs and trees native to all the 7 continents signifying the theme of 'Unity in Diversity' in the global context.
This is a garden beautifully landscaped with more than 450 varieties of Cactus collected from different part of world. The cacti plants exhibited here are in different shape size and color which attract the visitors. You can even buy a few varieties of cactus from here. Entry ticket for Cactus garden is ₹40.
This is also a beautiful landscape Garden next to the cactus Garden. As per the garden management there are some 25 varieties of butterfly which you can spot there. There are many specific varieties of flowers to feed the butterfly and grow them. Pathways are built around Flower plants with big butterfly frames for taking selfies. Entry ticket for Butterfly garden is ₹40.
Helicopter Ride around Statue of Unity
If you wish to get an aerial view of the Statue of Unity, helicopter ride is available at the Statue of Unity to fulfill you wish. A 10-minute helicopter ride will cost you ₹ 2,900. The helicopter ride is available from 9:30 AM to 1 hour before sunset on all days expect Monday and carry a group of 5-7 people at a time. Helicopter ride can be booked from SOU website.
Visitors can enjoy the boating in the lakes around the Statue of Unity. A 1-hour boat ride cost ₹ 290 per person and tickets can be purchased in advance from SOU website. You can reach the location by the SOU buses.
Adults, kids and tandem cycles are available on rent to cycle along the Narmada river, across the picturesque Sardar Sarovar Dam service road network. Cycles can be reserved in advance from the Statue of Unity website.
Other than these there are few more attractions to keep Adults and children engaged like Children Nutrition Park, Sardar Patel Zoological Park and Safari.
How to Reach Statue of Unity
The statue of unity can be best explored from Vadodara which is connected to every part of the country directly with the rail network. The nearest airport is also Vadodara which is connected with the metros. From Vadodara the Statue of Unity is about 90 km away and can be reached via State Highway 11 and State Highway 63.
If you wish to go there by state transport bus, you can plan you journey and buy tickets at GSRTC website. You need to catch the bus for Kevadiya colony Bus Stop. If there is no direct bus service then come via Vadodara or Dabhoi.
There is no train service to the statue of unity. There is a proposed railway line up to the Statue of Unity which will take few years.
Where to Stay
The best option is to stay in Vadodara city and visit the statue as a day trip. Hotel in all budgets are available in Vadodara. If you start early you can visit almost all the spots at Statue of Unity in a day.
If you want to stay near the statue there are two tent city accommodation available near the two lakes beside the Sardar Sarovar dam. First tent city is near the main canal gates and the second is near Panchmuli Lake. The stay option there is all inclusive and costly for families.
There any few budget hotels in Kevadiya colony. After leaving SH 63 towards Kevadiya colony there are many new hotels along both side of the road.