Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, otherwise known as GWK, is a 20-hectare ‘cultural park’ at the southern end of the island of Bali in Indonesia, not far from Nusa Dua and Jimbaran. It is devoted to the Hindu god Vishnu, and his mount, the mythical bird, Garuda. The statue and park were the idea of the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Foundation, a group that included the minister of tourism and telecommunications, Joop Ave, mining and energy minister IB Sudjana, along with Nuarta and several other influential individuals and businessmen close to Soeharto.
Originally plan was for a 146 metre (479 ft) bronze plated Vishnu riding on top of a Garuda which in turn is on top of an 11 story entertainment complex making it the largest statue in the world. The bust of Vishnu is 23 m (75.5 ft) high.
However, the idea was controversial, religious authorities on the island complained that its massive size would disrupt the spiritual balance of the island, and that the commercial nature was inappropriate, land acquisition was a problem and with massive cost blowouts the plans had to be sidelined.
But now it is just another remnant of the New Order regime, part of an ambition to build world-class landmarks to compete with iconic structures like the Statue of Liberty in New York. Under the auspices of Soeharto, local artist I Nyoman Nuarta was commissioned to create a huge statue of Wisnu, the god of creation, sitting on Garuda, the mythical bird that carries him, with a final height greater than that of the Statue of Liberty. The project was started in 1996-7 and came to an abrupt halt on the 14th of May 1998 when the Rp collapsed along with the government.
The park was also to be equipped with a performance center with 7,500 seats, and amphitheater, a street theater, galleries, restaurants and other artistic attractions. Problems began to emerge almost as soon as construction started in 1997, with the budget ballooning to hundreds of billions of rupiah.
Although unfinished, the park remains open as it is, and you may visit and wander around for a small price. Every now and then a politician or business man suggests that they will complete it. Even SBY suggested a few years ago that he would ensure it was completed, for the pride of the nation, however, nothing has occurred as yet.
Google Map of the layout of the GWK cultural park