Vrindavan Chandrodaya mandir all set to be tallest temple in the world

Kanpur,Nov23Five hundred and eighty-five reinforced concrete beams of one metre in diametre and 50 metre length—that’s the height of nearly 15 storeys—are being driven into a five acre site in Vrindavan, the town in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, associated for Hindus with the childhood of Lord Krishna.

These beams, called piling in construction terminology, will form the foundation for a 700 feet temple that’s coming up on the site. When completed in 2020-2021, the Vrindavan Chadrodaya Mandir (VCM) will be the world’s tallest temple—three times taller than the Qutb Minar, nearly a third taller than the St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Construction began in August 2014 on Krishna Janmashtami day.

 According to Gurgaon-based InGenious Studio, responsible for VCM’s architecture and design, it will take another 9-10 months for construction work to be completed up to the plinth level. The cost, estimated to be Rs 300 crore at the time construction started, will entirely be covered from donations from ISKCON bhakts.

VCM, conceived by the Bangalore chapter of ISKCON (a collective of Krishna followers with lakhs of followers across the world) is a magnificently ambitious project. Its planned features include a forest theme park spread over 18 acres, a Bhagvad Gita exposition, a Braj heritage village and an indoor Krishna Lila theme park. The piece de resistence will be a capsule elevator that will take visitors up to a viewing gallery at 700-feet, even as they view a multimedia 3D show on the Vedic idea of the heavens and gods in them—a veritable Disney World experience on Krishna.

For all its state-of-the-art technology, however, in design terms, VCM is deeply traditional, governed by the principles laid down in ancient Sanskrit texts such as the Vastu Shastras and Shilpa Shastras.

More specifically, it’s in the Nagara architectural style that’s common to most north Indian temples, informs Vikram Sompura, the architect responsible for designing the carvings, stone-work and other decorative elements on the interior and exterior walls of VCM. Sompura hails from a community of traditional temple architects and stone masons—their name is derived from Somnath, which the Sompuras are said to have built centuries ago.

Typically, there are three parts in this style, he explains. “These include a shringar chowki, or the entrance porch; Rangamandapa, the prayer hall with its highly decorated ceilings and walls, and a Garba griha, the sanctum sanctorum in which the idol is placed.”

The building of a temple also includes many arcane practices with their own symbolical meaning. One such is the belief that the idol in the sanctum sanctorum should be in direct touch with the soil. “Bhusparsh — in touch with the earth. So the idol of Krishna in VCM is not placed on the ground, it is placed on a shaft of earth that we had to clear in the foundation which has been filled with soil,” says Rimpesh Sharma, lead architect of Gurgaon-based InGenious Studio, which is responsible for the architecture and design of VCM. Here, it is a combination of soil from various holy places and river basins around India.

Then there was the Anantha Sesh Sthapana ceremony, the burying of a metal statue of a snake in the earth beneath the foundation level, before actual construction began. The snake replica is representative of Seshanag, the snake that is supposed to hold up the world in Hindu cosmology, and the ceremony is a way of invoking the protection of the gods for the temple. More pertinently, perhaps, for the times we live in, was the seismic study conducted before the VCM plan was finalised and the inclusion of earthquake-proof elements in its structural design.

With the best of the scriptures and also the sciences in its service, you can be sure VCM will be quite a landmark.

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