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Wisnu Desperately Seeking Shinta and US$81 Million

Despite Financial Woes, Construction Continues on GWK Massive Bali Monument and Cultural Park.

(5/24/2008) The concept is a bold one. Build a massive monument standing 300 meters above sea level and creating an instantly recognizable icon inseparable from the destination over which it towers.

There are numerous examples of other world destinations who have successfully trod this path: Paris has the Eiffel Tower; New York its Statute of Liberty; Washington its eponymous obelisk; Rio de Janeiro its trademark tribute to Jesus Christ; and, if it could only find the funding, Bali's Ungusan peninsula will have Lord Wisnu sitting stop the shoulders of a mythical Garuda bird, reminiscent of an ancient Hindu tale in which the epic hero Rama (Wisnu's incarnation) scours the world in search of his beloved Shinta.

In pursuit of the vision to create a Bali monument of global proportions, a 100-hectare location in a hilltop quarry just south of Bali's airport was secured and work began years ago on the foundation and various component parts that, when assembled, will become one of the world's tallest man-made landmarks.

Commenced with great gusto, enthusiasm and bad timing on the threshold of a period of unprecedented political and economic uncertainty, today Bali's Garuda Wisnu Kencana (GWK) is only 15% completed. In its current state, GWK, nonethless, offers visitors a manicured site that is home to a bust of Lord Wisnu and a massive head of the a Garuda bird; both suggesting the truly awesome dimensions a completed monument may eventually assume.

Quoted at Kompas.com, the famous Indonesian sculptor who designed the GWK, Nyoman Nuarta, and project advisor retired Minister of telecommunications and tourism, Joop Ave, told the press that the project continues to slowly progress with the current construction of a 150 meter high pedestal that will eventually serve as the foundation for the towering metal sculpture.

Continuing construction depends on finding the estimated remaining US$81 million needed to finish the project, a job being left to PT Garuda Adhitama Indonesia (GAIN) - a company owned by the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Foundation.

Nuarta told Kompas.com, "although we are facing financing difficulties, we are committed to continuing construction of the GWK until completion." Nuarya said he is hopeful that the government and Indonesia's banking community will give attention and lend their assistance to help realize the project through granting low-interest loans.

When completed, the GWK Cultural Park will serve as home to the monument, exhibition spaces, a museum, performance venues and a wide range of restaurants and shops.

In defending what has become a life-long goal, the Bandung-based sculptor said that the GWK has the potential of becoming a landmark for both Bali and Indonesia, adding, "this facility can strengthen (our) culture, our infrastructure as we enter a global age and, at the same time, become a strategic icon that will accelerate the development of Bali's tourism."