Inspired by the 60-ft high granite sculpture carved into Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, US, depicting the visages of four US presidents and is a huge tourist attraction, the Maharashtra government is envisioning an indigenous version of the same, featuring five of its illustrious sons of the soil.
The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has been tasked with exploring the feasibility of the project. Recently, the corporation had floated a tender of request for proposal (RFP) for the appointment of a consultant for the preparation of feasibility study and a masterplan for the proposed rock-carved sculpture in the Sahyadri region of Maharashtra.
The vice-chairman and managing director of the MSRDC, Radhyeshyam Mopalwar, told the FPJ that the concept is that of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and they are currently looking for an international sculptor to assess the feasibility of the project.
Mopalwar said, “The Mount Rushmore project was completed in about 15 years. Such large-scale projects take time. However, only after we have found a sculptor of international repute can anything be planned. Until then, the project is still too conceptual to elaborate upon.”
Meanwhile, the MSRDC continues to work on the 700-km long Samruddhi Mahamarg project, which courses through hills in the various districts of the surrounding Sahyadri region.
According to an inside source, the stonecarved project is more likely to be explored primarily on the Samruddhi Mahamarg alignment. The laterite stone, rich in iron and aluminium and blackstone is found in the Nashik, Aurangabad and Junnar belts, and therefore, the feasibility of the proposed stone carved sculpture project will be checked here.
These types of rock are usually suitable for such projects, the source observed, adding that it is in Junnar, Aurangabad, that caves such as Ellora, a major tourist draw, are located.
If all goes to plan, then the famous faces sculpted on the mountain will be those of Maharashtra luminaries - Bharat Ratna Dr B R Ambedkar, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, social reformer Jyotiba Phule, Chhatrapati Shahu and the founder of the Shiv Sena party, the late Bal Thackeray.
In fact, the MSRDC, in its request for proposal, has also expressed that the government of Maharashtra aspires to praise and develop a memorial for the glorious leaders and warriors of Indian history with special emphasis on the heroes of the state of Maharashtra, which will be complemented by the development of tourist destinations in the vicinity of the mountainous region.
The Samruddhi Mahamarg route will be flanked by the hills at Igatpuri, Aurangabad and other places. The MSRDC has scheduled a pre-bid meeting on the appointment of an expert consultant on June 30 at its Bandra office.
Bids received online from interested parties will be opened on July 15 and thereafter, the technical bids must be submitted physically only by the bidders, on or before July 20.