The superstructures of all three domes of ISKCON’s upcoming flagship temple – the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in Mayapur, West Bengal – have been completed, and finishing work is now underway.
At its highest point, the temple will stand 113 meters (370 feet) tall, higher than the Taj Mahal and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The main center dome is 58 meters (198 feet) high, while the two side domes are both 30 meters (98 feet) in height and will stand taller than Srila Prabhupada’s Samadhi in Mayapur.
The three domes were completed in 2015. Beneath the center dome will be a huge, detailed chandelier model of the universe as described in the fifth canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, and an ornate altar housing Sri Sri Pancha-Tattva, Sri Sri Radha-Madhava, and the Six Goswamis of Vrindavana.
Under the right dome will be Lord Nrsimhadeva on a beautiful marble and gold altar. And under the left dome will be the eponymous Vedic Planetarium itself – envisioned in the 1970s by ISKCON Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada.
Now that the domes have been completed, chairman Ambarish Das (Alfred Ford) says, “The entire TOVP team is looking forward to another inspiring year in 2016, the 50th Anniversary of ISKCON, as the project moves steadily towards completion.”
The first step in 2016 will be the completion of the three kalashes – the ornate golden fixtures atop the domes – and then the chakras above them.
The chatris, or pavilions, on the pillars around the temple’s outer circumference, will be next, along with the already iconic blue ceramic tiling on the grand domes.
Workers have already begun to clad the ten levels of stairs, in all eight staircases surrounding the temple rooms, with white Rajasthani marble. They will continue to clad the interior and exterior of the building with the same marble this year.
Managing Director Sadhbuja Das shows visitors the white Rajasthani marble being used to clad the staircases
Carving work has also begun on the Jali windows for the Planetarium and Nrsimhadeva wings. Jali, a type of ornamental latticed window, is popular in Jaipur, and the TOVP’s will be made with pink sandstone from Rajasthan.
The 140-foot-long and 35-foot-high altar superstructure has already been completed, and this year finish work will be carried out on the altars, using Bolivian blue marble.
Electrical and plumbing work has begun and will continue. Both are being done with longevity in mind so that the TOVP lasts for thousands of years with as little major maintenance as possible.
A dedicated workshop has been built on site for GFRC, or Glass Fiber-reinforced Concrete, which is stronger than traditional concrete and has the unique ability to flex without breaking. The TOVP is being constructed with this material, as are its architectural and decorative elements. Polyurethane molds, which can be used over and over to produce hundreds of cast GFRC pieces, have been approved.
Devotees inspect the 'Jali' latticed window work
A cast iron factory in Kolkata, which has been in operation for over 100 years and employs over 600 workers, will create beautiful cast iron pieces for the TOVP, beginning with an elaborate peacock design for its “Prabhupada Bridge.”
Beautiful sculptures and artwork are also underway for the TOVP, under the able eye of artists like Savyasachi Das and Bhaskara Das. Murtis of the guru-parampara (disciplic succession) are being created, as well as seven-foot murtis of eight different demigods bowing to Lord Nrsimhadeva, based on a pastime described in the seventh canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam.
The temple’s woodwork will also be done in 2016. All the TOVP’s doors and windows will be made from Burmese Teakwood, known for its strength, easy workability, and outstanding resistance to decay. Designs will be engraved using a 4 Axis CNC Router, a tool custom-made in China to serve the specific needs of the TOVP.
Another exciting step will be creating the burnished gold coffered ceilings beneath the main dome as well as Lord Nrsimhadeva’s. Under the coffered panels will be special acoustic panels designed to diminish reverb so that classes and large kirtans will deliver clear sound even in the huge domed space.
Sculpting a murti of Indra, the king of the demigods, praying to Lord Nrsimhadeva
Funds for all of this were collected during a worldwide tour in which fundraisers Radha Jivan Das and Braja Vilas Das, along with Mayapur priest Jananivas Das, brought the sacred shoes of Lord Nityananda Prabhu and the sacred helmet of Lord Nrsimhadeva to bless donors.
Now devotees around the world are checking in excitedly at TOVP.org on a regular basis to see updates and photos as the finishing work comes together, and what Ambarish calls “this dearmost project of Srila Prabhupada” progresses.[ mayapura ] [ temple-of-the-vedic-planetarium ] [ tovp ] [ west-bengal ]