Flight of the Garuda

The Jarkarta Post / ANN
Challenging: Installing the bust of the Garuda Wisnu Kencana monument is very challenging because it protrudes 30 meters. (Siluet Nyoman Nuarta/File)


Indonesia’s tallest statue will be a gift to celebrate the nation’s Independence Day in 2018.

Despite cloudy skies and brief downpours, the afternoon was hot and humid. Not exactly the perfect conditions to scale the steps leading to the as yet unfinished platform that is marked by rows of bare concrete pillars.

The platform is spacious and could easily accommodate more than 100 cars. It is open on all sides, giving a 360-degree bird’s eye view of the scenery below. 

The sprawling 60-hectare Garuda Wisnu Kencana cultural park with its gigantic limestone columns, the host of numerous world-class concerts, sits below and Benoa Bay, now the most contentious site in Bali because of a controversial reclamation plan, lies in the distance, both clearly visible from the platform’s eastern side

A worker cleans the wet floor while groups of wielders are busy working on steel frames and tubes that intersect each other before jutting out into the gloomy sky.  

A brightly painted red crane to the platform’s western side is the only thing that adds color to the otherwise steely gray scene.

“We are now 93.5 meters above the ground,” famed sculptor Nyoman Nuarta said as he pointed to a gigantic head of Garuda.

“We have just finished installing the torso and the head of the Garuda, one of the most critical stages of the construction process,”

His comments referred to Garuda Wisnu Kencana, a gigantic monument he first conceptualized back in 1993.

“It was very challenging technically because the bust of the 22-m tall Garuda protrudes 30-m outward from the statue’s inner core.

“As you can imagine, we had to construct a 30-m long cantilever before installing the torso,” he said. 

The next technically challenging task is to install the wings of the mythical bird. Because of Nuarta’s insistence on endowing the wings with the illusion of movement, requiring additional reinforcements of the frame, the space available inside the wings’ tips for fine-tuning the installation can only accommodate one worker.