1. Statue of Unity (182 metres tall)
Over 40% taller than the second tallest statue in the world, the Statue of Unity is truly a site to behold. Taking over five years to build, the site is dedicated to activist and politician Vallabhbhai Patel and located in his state of birth - Gujarat, India. Identified as an integral individual in championing the ideas and disciplines from the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Patel was integral in delivering peace to a divided India. The entire complex, including a museum and man-made lake, is a multi-billion-dollar project with the towering statue being a $500 million statement piece. With the size of the structure, it can be seen from over 7km away and that is in conditions that regularly struggle to break visibility of more than 70%. The height of the Statue of Unity is four times the height of the Statue of Liberty. Design compromises were consequently made to cater for the difficulties in having a structure so tall. Two 250 tonne mass dampeners are situated at the base to minimise the effects of earthquakes and 135 metric tonnes of iron make the statue resilient to winds of up to 180kph.
2. Spring Temple Buddha (128 metres tall)
Emerging from the picturesque rolling hills of Lushan Country, the Spring Temple Buddha overlooks a largely undiscovered area by tourists. Located outside of China’s major cities, it is a place to venture and climb with 1,000 stairs that take visitors to the summit. Blended with 108kg of gold, 3,300 tonnes of copper and 15,000 tonnes of steel, the statue is situated on a 25m high lotus throne and soars over 200m with the base considered. As the equivalent of a 22-storey building, it is in many ways an embodiment of China’s staunch Buddhism. Continual construction of Buddha statues across China has been bound to the rapid development of China as a market economy due to their potential to attract religious pilgrimages. However, the Spring Temple like many others have been built in a glaring juxtaposition to the areas in which they are situated, often areas of immense poverty and removed from traditional tourist hubs. Herein, tourist numbers have never come anywhere near as prevalent as other sites such as the Lingshan Buddha, and in many ways remains a hidden gem.
3. Laykyun Sekkya (116 metres tall)
Taking almost 15 years to create, the Laykyun Sekkya Buddha is not only the third tallest statue in the world but only two metres shorter than the tallest building in Myanmar. Unmissable with its lavish yellow that becomes gold against the reflection of sunlight, the statue is located in the regional village of Khatakan Taung near Monywa. The prolonged construction period was attributed to the building being fully supported by the work and donations of believers. Sprawling at the foot of the statue is a 95m long reclining Buddha. Together the two statues symbolise enlightenment, knowledge and rebirth.
4. Ushiku Daibutsu (100 metres tall)
Located in Japan, Ushiku Daibutsu was the tallest statue in the world from 1993-2008 that has an internal museum and impressive viewing deck. Weighing over 4,000 tonnes and made entirely of bronze, the statue features four levels. The first two floors are identifiable places of worship, dedicated to infinite life, infinite light, gratitude and thankfulness. The third floor is a sanctuary featuring 3,000 gold statues and the fourth floor has a viewing platform that encapsulates a stunning landscape as far as the Tokyo Skytree. Enveloped by beautiful gardens that flower year-round, it is difficult to find a statue with a more aesthetically pleasing environment as the Ushiku Daibutsu.
5. Sendai Daikannon (100 metres tall)
Towering as a gatekeeper to the coastal Japanese city of Sendai, the Sendai Daikannon depicts the Bodhisattva Kannon bearing a wishing gem and water flask - symbols of compassion and wisdom. Comprising of a 12-level construction internally, venturing to the summit of the statue is a famed religious pilgrimage in Japan that features a myriad of Buddhist monuments and relics. The Sendai Daikannon was erected in 1991 on the hills that shield the city to bring good fortune to those who gaze upon it. Home to over 100 Buddhist statues inside, the Sendai Daikannon has immense cultural significance as a site of repents, clearing negative energy and prayer.
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