Image: Statue of Unity website
Gujarat's Kevadia, where Sardar Patel's Statue of Unity has been drawing more tourists than the Statue of Liberty in the US, has emerged as a family holiday destination of international standard with a children nutrition park, Arogya Van, and camping and river rafting facilities, top officials said.
Described as a 'must-visit' place by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the town, nestled amid Satpura and Vindhayachal ranges along the banks of the Narmada river, has a number of small and big tourist spots.
Gujarat's Additional Chief Secretary Rajiv Gupta, who has been associated with the project since its beginning, said it was the prime minister's vision to develop this place as a model tourist destination for the entire family.
"Under the guidance of Prime Minister Modi, the town has been developed as a tourist destination for the entire family while preserving its ecology and local heritage," Gupta told PTI.
He said the main attraction of the town, the Statue of Unity, ideated by Prime Minister Modi himself, attracts more tourists than the Statue of Liberty in the United States. Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, around 13,000 tourists were visiting the statue on daily, while around 10,000 tourists visited the Statue of Liberty last month.
Development in the town generated direct employment for 3,000 tribal boys and girls, and indirect employment to 10,000 more, Gupta said, adding it has also opened up new avenues of micro-entrepreneurship for women. About the various tourist attractions in Kevadia, Gujarat's Tourism Secretary Mamta Verma said there is variety, something for every member of a family in Kevadia.
"If there is Arogya Van for elders, there is a children nutrition park for kids, then there are options for camping and river rafting for youngsters," she said. For nature lovers, Verma said there is Sardar Patel Zoological Park and Geodesic Aviary Dome, which is home to more than 1,100 birds and animals and five lakh plants.
Under the guidance of Prime Minister Modi, this place has been developed with the least commercialisation, so that its natural beauty remains intact, she said.