India Is Now Home to the World's Largest Statue

Prime Minister,s Office, Press Information Bureau, Wikimedia Commons // OGDL-India [PDF]
Prime Minister,s Office, Press Information Bureau, Wikimedia Commons // OGDL-India [PDF]

At nearly 600-feet-tall, the world's largest statue was just recently completed. Depicting India's first interior minister and its most beloved deputy prime minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the statue was unveiled in late October 2018 and is nearly five times taller than Brazil's famed Christ the Redeemer, twice as high as the Statue of Liberty, and 180 feet taller than the previous record holder, China's Spring Temple Buddha.

The statue's subject, Vallabhbhai Patel, holds a special place in the country's history. Called the "Iron Man of India," Patel was one of country's modern founding fathers and was instrumental in the fight for India's independence, having worked directly with Gandhi to organize non-violent campaigns of civil disobedience. He was also a vital broker of peace, using his political acumen to convince more than 500 princely states to unite following the 1947 partition of India. For that reason, the memorial is called "The Statue of Unity."

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Statue Of Unity
Government of India, Abhinay6597, Wikimedia Commons // OGDL-India [PDF]

Not everybody is a fan of the new landmark. The sculpture is located in a relatively remote part of Patel's home state of Gujarat and cost $430 million to build. Local farmers, who claim to have lost land because of the project, have protested construction and argue that the funds could have been put to better use. (Half of the money was provided by the Gujarat state government.) "Instead of spending money on a giant statue, the government should have used it for farmers in the district," farmer Vijendra Tadvi complained to the BBC.

The Statue of Unity, however, may not hold the title of the world's largest statue for long—although, if it does lose its title, the distinction will likely remain in India. Over in Mumbai, the Shiv Smarak statue is being constructed to honor the 17th-century Hindu warrior and Maratha kingdom founder, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. By its estimated completion in 2021, the memorial will tower at 695 feet.

You Can Rent This Wizard of Oz-Themed Cottage in North Carolina

Airbnb
Airbnb

This year marks the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, the classic 1939 adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s book. In addition to watching the film, you can opt for a more immersive way to celebrate the occasion. As Travel + Leisure reports, a cottage in West Jefferson, North Carolina offered on Airbnb is perfect for any traveling Oz fan—and it’s only $35 a night.

The studio cottage is considered a glamping destination and is slim on amenities—it has a breakfast nook, porch, sofa bed, and a Porta John—but the Oz-themed details more than make up for the lack of luxurious perks.

A pair of stockinged feet are visible under the home, hinting at a witch’s untimely demise; a character mural of Dorothy and her three escorts, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion, appears on the side of the cabin; inside, various other decorations pay homage to Baum's books, including a pair of ruby slippers and a few stuffed Totos.

A cottage with a 'Wizard of Oz' theme in West Jefferson, North Carolina is pictured
Airbnb

If you go, you’ll have to act quickly. The cottage is open only in the spring, summer, and fall, as it has no heat.

The Airbnb listing has a perfect score across 16 reviews. You can book it here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Visit Any National Park for Free on September 28—or Volunteer to Help Maintain Them

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Nick Hanauer/iStock via Getty Images

By the end of September—which always seems especially busy, even if you’re not a student anymore—you might be ready for a small break from the hustle and bustle. On Saturday, September 28, you can bask in the tranquility of any national park for free, as part of National Public Lands Day.

According to the National Park Service, the holiday has been held on the fourth Saturday of every September since 1994, and it’s also the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort. It’s up to you whether you’d like to partake in the service side or simply go for a stroll, but there is an added incentive to volunteer: You’ll get a one-day park pass that you can use for free park entry on a different day. Opportunities for volunteering include trail restoration, invasive plant removal, park cleanups, and more; you can see the details and filter by park, state, and/or type of event here.

If you’re not sure how you should celebrate National Public Lands Day, the National Park Service has created a handy flowchart to help you choose the best course of action for you—which might be as simple as sharing your favorite outdoor activity on social media with the hashtag #NPLD.

National public lands day celebration flowchart
National Park Service

There are more than 400 areas run by the National Park Service across the U.S., and many of them aren’t parks in the traditional sense of the word; the Statue of Liberty, Alcatraz Island, and countless other monuments and historical sites are also run by the NPS. Wondering if there might be one closer than you thought? Explore parks in your area on this interactive map.

For those of you who can’t take advantage of the free admission on September 28, the National Park Service will also waive all entrance fees for Veteran’s Day on November 11.

And, if you’re wishing a free-admission day existed for museums, you’re in luck—more than 1500 museums will be free to visit on Museum Day, which happens to be this Saturday.

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