Last Friday, legendary sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik made history when he and a team of 45 students built the world’s largest sandcastle on Puri Beach in India’s eastern state of Odisha. According to Debabrata Mohapatra at The Times of India, Pattnaik’s 48.8-foot sandy mega structure was tall enough to officially earn the Guinness Book of World Records title for the world’s tallest sandcastle.
It took Pattnaik and his crew nine days to complete their massive sculpture, which is a sprawling castle with the words "World Peace" written in front and also includes a peace dove as well as medallions showing the faces of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
The previous Guinness world-record, a 45.83-foot castle, was constructed on Virginia Key Beach by professional sand sculptor Ted Siebert and 19 helpers in October 2015, over the course of two weeks.
“It is a proud moment for the country as Sudarsan broke the previous record by building a 14.84 metre high castle in the backdrop of the Bay of Bengal in Puri,” state tourism director Nitin Bhanudas Jawale, tells Mohapatra. “We will exhibit the art on the beach for two more days to attract tourists.”
The 39-year-old Pattnaik is a professional sand sculptor, and in 1994 he founded the Sudarsan Sand Art Institute in Puri, where he teaches others the craft he has practiced since he was a child. According to his website, he more or less grew up on the beach and taught himself how to sculpt in sand, which he says was an ability gifted from God. Over the years, he’s competed in many international sand sculpting competitions and has created sculptures to raise cancer awareness, AIDS awareness, celebrate world peace and even created a replica of the Taj Mahal out of black sand to celebrate the building’s 350th anniversary.
Pattnaik isn’t a stranger to setting records—he tells Mohaptra that he has set 23 sand sculpting records in the Limca Book of Records, an India-only version of Guinness. But setting a world record is special. “We are happy after breaking the previous Guinness world record,” he tells Press Trust India. “This achievement will encourage me to touch new milestones.”
Mohaptra reports that Pattnaik and his crew worked 12 hours a day the last four days to complete the sculpture. They were supervised the entire time by a crew of officials from Guinness.
“They took nearly one hour to verify my art and measure the height before making the official announcement,” Pattnaik says.
While Pattnaik’s structure is the now the world’s tallest sandcastle, it is nowhere close to the world’s tallest sand sculpture, an epic 73-foot, 7-inch tall creation certified by Guinness. It's called "Why Is the Hummingbird King of All Animals" and was built during the Zhoushan International Sand Sculpture Festival in China in 2010.