Surat: Next time you visit the Statue of Unity (SoU), the world’s tallest statue built in the memory of the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, you have to feel the ‘Khushboo Surat Ki’. Not many in the diamond city would be aware that the biggest attractions of ‘Arogya Van’ and ‘Ekta Van’ are conceptualized and designed by a Surti architect.
Meet Bhavik Patel, a renowned interior designer, and architect from Surat, who designed and conceptualized the ‘Arogya Van’ and ‘Ekta Van’, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31, 2020.
According to Patel, the approval of Arogya Van and Ekta Van was given by the Central Government in 2017, even before the completion of SOU. The spot selected for the Arogya Van was in ruin and that it was a dumping site. A huge forest was conceptualized in Kevadia on the small hillock for the attraction of visitors at the SOU.
Arogya Van (Herbal Garden) was developed recognizing the importance of the medicinal plants at SoU. According to Patel, the Arogya Van is spread over an area of about 17 acres and that it exhibits a wide range of medicinal plants and health-related landscapes.
The aim of Arogya Van at Kevadia, is to raise awareness about the important role played by plants in the wellness of human beings. Emphasis is also laid on Yoga, Ayurveda, and Meditation for being an integral part of a person’s well-being.
The entry gate of Arogya Van has all 12 postures of Surya Namaskar of human size, to emphasize the importance of yoga, which is to be practiced daily for healthy living. The digital information center has been set up to acknowledge visitors and make them understand the heritage and the importance of medicinal plants in our day-to-day life.
The key highlight at Arogya Van is the ‘Aushadh Manav.’ This is a giant three-dimensional layout of a human body in a resting posture. Each human organ is represented by a medicinal plant that is beneficial for that particular organ. So these plants are planted on the specific part of the body to make the visitors understand the specific plants used for the treatment of that particular organ.
There are five gardens inside Arogya Van – Garden of Colours, Aroma Garden, Yoga Garden, Alba Garden, and Leutea Garden.
Bhavik Patel, master planner, and architect told TBT, “The task of creating and developing a forest is very difficult. The work was handed over to us in 2018 and that the deadline was fixed for October 31, 2020. The Arogya Van was to be developed in such a manner that it not only recognizes the value of medicinal plants, but the visitors should get knowledge and it becomes an eco-tourist spot”
According to Patel, it was a daunting task to develop Arogya Van in Kevadia, where the soil was not fertile. However, black and yellow soil was brought from different places to Kevadia and the gigantic work of developing the Arogya Van was started.
Talking about the Ekta Nursery, Patel said, “The Ekta Nursery is India’s most hi-tech nursery, which has been appreciated by the environmentalists across the world. Ekta Nursery was envisioned by the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi while dedicating the Statue of Unity to the Nation. He suggested developing this Ekta Nursery as a tourist destination to spread awareness about eco-friendly practices”
Ekta Nursery, according to Patel, is the biggest attraction for tourists. One can purchase handicraft items from Ekta Handicrafts, other attractions include Hydroponics (soil-less farming), honeybee farming, farming of the kadaknath—black colour chicken—which is highly nutritious, etc.