The state of Uttar Pradesh has announced plans to build the world’s tallest statue in the form of a 221m-high representation of the god Ram, less than a month after Gujarat completed its own record holder, a 182m tribute to the Congress politician Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
The statue, which would be located in the deity’s birthplace of Ayodhya (pictured), would be made from bronze and would depict Ram holding his bow in his left hand and an arrow in the right. Plans for it were unveiled over the weekend by five construction firms, which gave presentations to Yogi Adityanath, the the state’s chief minister.
Although the body of the god would be only 151m tall, it would be standing on a 50m tall plinth and located beneath a 20m high umbrella.
According to an official statement released by the state government, the plinth would accommodate a museum of Ayodhya as well as the avatars of Vishnu.
The decision to build the statue is likely to prove even more controversial that the statue of Patel, a divisive figure in history of modern Indian. The plan has been backed by right-wing Hindu groups. Today, Hindu holy men in the state rejected the plan on the grounds that it was aimed at bolstering the Hindu identity of Ayodhya.
One holy man, Swami Avimukteshwaranand, told India’s News 18 that the project was "purely political". He said: "We want a Lord Ram temple to be built without disturbing communal harmony. We do not want any dispute with anyone. They want to build a memorial while we want to build a place for worship. Our existence is not based on hatred for Muslims."
Meanwhile, The Guardian notes that successive BJP governments have promised to build a Ram temple on the site but say they are unable to do so until the Indian supreme court rules on how the land should be used. The court will hold hearings on the issue next year.
Image: The Rama Paidi temple in the city of Ayodhya, where legend says Lord Ram and his brother were born (Ramnath Bhat/CC By 2.0)