ISKCON’s flagship center, the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in Mayapur, West Bengal is slated to open “on or around Gaura Purnima 2022,” according to tovp.org’s Sunanda Das, who adds that the GBC has not yet officially approved a specific date.
Construction on the 520,000-square-foot temple is now in the final phase after decades of development and nearly ten years of work onsite.
The project officially started on September 21st, 2009 with the clearing of the construction site, and a groundbreaking ceremony followed on February 14th2010. The first stage, sinking immense ‘piles,’ or steel support rods, into the ground took nine months and was completed by December 2010.
Stage two, the temple superstructure, began immediately after. This included casting the temple floor and surrounding floor levels, and completing the walls, front stairway and canopy. The three domes, including the 370-foot-high main dome, and six chatris -- the pavilions on the pillars around the temple’s outer circumference – were also built.
A Garuda Murti sculpted by a local artist
By December 2017, the superstructure was complete, and the kalashes –the ornate golden fixtures that top the domes – were mounted. The first chakra was installed on the planetarium wing’s dome in August that year. The final two chakras were installed in an elaborate ceremony on February 7th, 2018. The biggest chakra on the main dome is assembled from 120 parts, coated in liquid gold, measures over six meters in diameter, and weighs 1.6 tonnes.
Stage three, the final phase of exterior and interior finishing work, went into high gear following the chakra installation ceremony and is currently underway. World renowned Project Management Consultancy Cushman & Wakefield has been contracted to assist with the remaining three years of work. This brings to the table a level of construction management and expertise that guarantees the project’s timely, well-coordinated, and properly budgeted completion by 2022.
The third phase includes marble cladding, completing the pillars, sandstone windows, dome decorations, the dome’s coffered ceilings, electrical and plumbing work, the sound system, and much more.
Alongside this work, the main altars for Sri Sri Pancha-Tattva, Sri Sri Radha-Madhava, and the Six Goswamis of Vrindavana will be completed, along with Lord Nrsimhadeva’s altar, Srila Prabhupada’s vyasasana and a new Srila Prabhupada murti.
Peacock brackets under the Chatris
Meanwhile finishing work on the domes continues and will be completed soon. The distinctive blue tile seen in the 3D designs of the temple is now being laid down, along with stars and gold ribs which will add to the artistic beauty.
Peacock brackets are also being mounted under the chatris, the temple pillars are being clad with marble and standstone, ‘volutes’ (spiral scroll-like ornaments) are being constructed under the domes, and the interior rooms are receiving waterproofing.
In the background of all this, legendary ISKCON sculptors Bhaktisiddhanta Das and Lochan Das, along with many local artists, are working hard creating guru-parampara murtis, devas and various sacred personalities such as Jaya and Vijaya for different areas of the temple.
A new monthly Flag Festival will be inaugurated this Gaura Purnima – each month a special flag will be hoisted onto all three domes to celebrate the TOVP.
The 100,000 square foot pujari floor is expected to be completed by Gaura Purnima 2020, and will include the Deity kitchen, jewelry room, sewing room, outfit storage room, and more.
Demigods watch over the Nrsimha wing
Some basic exhibits will be functioning by the Grand Opening in 2022.
To help complete all this, there are seventeen different seva opportunities available for donors. The newest, the Pillars of Devotion, offers devotees the opportunity to sponsor one of the 108 pillars in the temple named after the Sravanam, Kirtanam, Smaranam and Atmanivedanam processes of devotion.
There are also many different fundraising campaigns. For instance the #Giving TOVP 10 Day Worldwide Matching Fundraiser online will run from May 7th(Akshaya Trittiya) until May 17th (Nrsimha Caturdasi). All donations up to $125,000 will be matched by Ambarisa prabhu.
The TOVP Ambassador Rewards Program will begin soon. Devotees who assist with fundraising and promotion in their local areas will receive various transcendental rewards.
This summer, the TOVP will launch the Guru-parampara murti Fundraising Campaign, which will allow devotees to sponsor the acharya murtis that are being prepared for the altar.
A local artist works on one of the Jaya and Vijaya murtis to be placed in the Nrsimha wing of the temple
Sunanda Das reminds us: “The TOVP is anything but another ISKCON Temple. We want devotees to understand that ISKCON Mayapur is the World Headquarters of the Hare Krishna Movement in the birthplace of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. The historic opening of the TOVP will create a worldwide effect that will help to firmly establish ISKCON on the world scene for the next 10,000 years.
“It is also the long-awaited and far overdue new home of our beloved world Deities Sri Sri Radha Madhava, Sri Pancha Tattva and Sri Nrsimhadeva. Additionally, 2022, the year of the Grand Opening, is the 50thAnniversary of ISKCON Mayapur. And finally, the opening of the TOVP will bring further glory and victory to ISKCON Founder-Acharya Srila Prabhupada and the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampradaya.”
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