The temple of Vedic Planetarium, Mayapur, India
…to be the World’s tallest Hindu temple (35 storeys)
Part 1: Project Overview
The focal point of Indian architecture, like its culture, has always been religious in nature. Just as the Indian economic boom is bringing incredible economic and architectural growth in the secular area, so has Indian religious architecture started once again creating some of the worlds largest, massive, and most intricate religious architecture in world.
Now, plans are underway in Mayapur, West Bengal, located on the banks of the River Ganga near Navadvip, about 130 km north of Kolkata, to build another massive religious work: the tallest Hindu temple in the world, one of the largest religious buildings ever constructed (the largest being the Ankgor Wat Hindu temple in Cambodia), and one of the largest religious complexes to be built in last 200 years. A temple that, at 35 storeys, and will be just shy of the Pyramids in Giza in height, and without major repair is built to last over a thousand years –the Sri Mayapur Vedic Planetarium and Temple.
Read on for a comprehensive description of the planned temple, originally posted by me on Skyscrapercity.com…
Location: The Pilgrimage Town of Mayapur, West Bengal
Mayapur is a pilgrimage place for various traditions of Hinduism, but is of particular import to followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism as Mayapur is the birthplace of 16th century saint Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
The town is heavily centred around the Gaudiya Vaishnava religious tradition, with temples devoted to Radha and Krishna throughout. Since the 1970’s Mayapur has also the site of the world headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) amongst a number of other Vaishnava organisations such as the Gaudiya Math.
Indeed, it is ISKCON who is planning to build a huge “Religious Tourism” project, which includes as its feature the 35-storey tall Sri Mayapur Vedic Planetarium and Temple.
As Hindu temples are built to symbolically represent the cosmos (here’s a nice paper on Indian Architecture and Cosmology), the temple includes a Planetarium and learning center, and is to be surrounded by a large Vedic Village, a Village Industrial Park, hotels and accomodations, and will house a large Vedic university, the Mayapur Centre of Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
The Temple Complex
Spearheaded by the ABF foundation, run by Alfred Brush Ford, descendent of US automobile pioneer and the Ford founder, Henry Ford, the entire Temple Project is estimated at Rs 600 crore.
Completion of the project would lead to several things, including spin-off benefits for the local economy, improvement in healthcare and education facilities, availability of micro credit to the people. The idea is to ensure that tourist arrivals in Mayapur goes up by “1,000 per cent by 2020”. With proper infrastructure in place, Mayapur could figure among the top-20 tourist destinations in India.
A “vedic planetarium” would be built at Mayapur as part of the tourism project. It would also have a Mayapur Centre of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. The Ganges would be used as a thoroughfare for ferrying tourists from Sundarbans to Mayapur via Dakshineswar (a place en route which houses the famous Kali temple built by Rani Rashmoni in 18th century Bengal.)
The planetarium’s research centre will have scientists from NASA and the ISRO explaining the contributions of Vedic cosmology to the study of today’s space science, as well as regular symposia on the subject by astro-physicists. The project aims to make a the project a center of astrophysical and cosmological research.
While the 22-acre Vedic planetarium project will be undertaken by Mayapur project society, a charitable body, work for the village industries park will be taken up by Mayapur Village Industries Park Pvt Ltd. The Mayapur Tourism Development Pvt Ltd will be responsible for the tourism hospitality complex.
According to ABF International director John Robert Sims, the 19.9-acre village industries park has been conceived as an integrated area to provide physical infrastructure, world-class engineering and technological inputs, common facilities. Human resource development and platform to all productions units.
It will have units like local handicrafts, sculpture, terracotta manufacturing and handlooms for cotton, jute and silk products, earthen products, organic food processing zones, fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, chilling plants, cold storages, packaged drinking water including bottling plant, multi-commodity raw material, finished goods and warehouses.
The hospitality tourism complex, spread over 19.2 acre, will have 700 high-end hotel rooms, 2,700 middle-standard rooms and 6,700 lower-end rooms, besides other hospitality facilities.
Design and architecture of the Mandir
The temple is a modern interpretation of ancient Nagara (Northern) and Kalinga (Orissan) Hindu temple design. It has a consists of three connected domed structures.
The first, the Exhibition Hall, will include many exhibits, a large planetarium, and a Garuda stambha (a column supporting the carved image of Garuda.) The smallest of the three structures, the Exhibition Hall will be about nine stories high. Construction for the Exhibition hall has already begun.
The second building, the Kirtana Hall, will be approximately eighteen stories tall and features an enormous vyasana for Sri Prabhupada at its center.
^ Prerenderings of the inside chamber, showing general layout. The entire struture will be hand-carved in the Hindu temple style.
The third structure, the Shikar, or main temple, will stand about thirty-five stories tall. This building will house a magnificent Deity chamber and a beautiful glass and marble gopuram.
^ Cross section of Kirtana Hall, and a Front Profile view of some of the glasswork
Size of the Mandir
The size that the temple will be is simply immense. A lot of the renderings don’t do justice to the scale of the project. Some comparisons with other major religious landmarks of the world:
^ Compared to the Mahadeva Temple, Khajuraho (11th Century),
^ Compared to the Taj Mahal, Agra (17th Century)
^ Compared to Haga Sophia, Istanbul (6th Century)
^ Compared to St. Pauls Cathedral, London (17th Century)
^ Compared to St. Peters, Rome (16th Century)
^ Compared to The Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt (2400 BC)
Material Construction of the Temple:
No steel /will be used in the building of the Temple. The entire structure will be built with bricks fired from Ganga silt. An ancient Bengali palace near Mayapur, built essentially this same way, still stands after nine hundred years without modern technology or restoration. Hence, the brickwork is a viable lasting solution.
The Temple will be built five meters above the highest recorded flood level of the Ganges. The entire structure rests atop a poured concrete slab 2.5 meters thick covering roughly four acres. This slab will act as a raft to literally float the building on the muddy Gangetic delta which makes up Mayapur.
The Project is to be completed by 2010-15 timeframe. Preliminary groundwork has begun.
For ease of reading, I’ll post more about this temple in a second post.
Jai aka FeloniousVindaloo