This Day in History (12-Apr-1992) – The 350-tonne Buddha statue salvaged from the Hussain Sagar where it had sunk in 1990

During his visit to New York, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. T. Rama Rao saw the Statue of Liberty and was inspired by the efforts to restore it. He said “I wanted something like that … That would have been my contribution to society.” Rama Rao chose to depict Gautama Buddha because “he was a humanitarian who told the whole truth to the people. It is our pride.” Also Hyderabad was a major Budhhist center in the time of King Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. After a long search, the team found a solid granite rock on a mountainside 40 miles outside Hyderabad. For over a year, hundreds of labourers helped the temple architect and builder S.M.Ganapathi Sthapati create the statue. After five years and the expenditure of US$3 million, the statue stood at 58 feet and weighed 350 tons, making it the world’s tallest monolithic statue of the Buddha. A concrete platform measuring 15 feet, now referred to as the “Rock of Gibraltar,” was constructed in the middle of Hussain Sagar to aid in erecting the statue. The roads of the Hyderabad city were also widened for this purpose.

ABC Limited, a local company, was given the responsibility of transferring the statue onto the concrete platform. Using a trailer vehicle, the statue was brought to the shore of Hussain Sagar. On March 10, 1990, company workers shifted the statue on top of a barge. After traveling only 100 yards, the statue tipped and fell into the lake. The accident killed 10 people.

After a two-year salvage operation, the statue was pulled out of the lake and was installed on the platform successfully in 1992. While it has never been admitted by political leaders, they were wary of consecrating the statue for what appeared to be sentimental reasons. Former Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao lost power even as sculptors were working on the statue. Tragedy of killing 10 people struck when M. Channa Reddy was the Chief Minister. It was up to former Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu to get the statue installed. In 2006, the Dalai Lama consecrated the statue after performing a ritual.



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