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Monday 16 October 2017
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An Interview with Sriman Chanchalapathi Dasa

The Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir is a pioneering architectural and spiritual wonder that has been conceived to revolutionalise the status of the holy Vrindavan Dham. The gigantic skyscraper will bring Vrindavan to the forefront of world attention. Shri Chanchalapathi Dasa, President of the Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir speaks of the inspiration, vision and aspirations behind the upcoming skyscraper temple for Lord Krishna in Vrindavan.

An Interview with Sriman Chanchalapathi Dasa

 

Question : How did you come up with the concept and design?

Answer : Srila Prabhupada the founder and acharya of the Hare Krishna Movement is the inspiration behind this project. He is a great visionary and spiritual master who spread Lord Krishna’s teachings the world over. He also envisioned bringing about a peaceful spiritual revolution in the world based on the teachings of Lord Krishna, which are the panacea for the ills of modern age. Srila Prabhupada wanted that Vrindavan be acknowledged in the world as the spiritual capital and become a centre of learning.

In early 1970s when he was in Vrindavan he had said “… there are so many skyscrapers. Why not construct a nice skyscraper temple of Krishna?”  His vision is the core inspiration for conceiving this project.

We had thought of many different concepts for the architecture and physical form of this skyscraper temple. After many concepts we settled on the concept of pyramid, opening out in the form of lotus forming the tall structure at centre. We shall be housing three temples in centre of the skyscraper temple. One for Sri Radha Krishna, other for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and other for Srila Prabhupada the founder and acharya of the Hare Krishna Movement.

We also wanted to blend the traditional and the modern elements of the architecture in the concept. We have done a fusion of the traditional Nagara style of temple architecture which was developed in the fifth century and the glass façade which is very intrinsic to most of the modern buildings. The Nagara style of architecture later in the medieval times became common to almost all temples. By integrating this traditional architecture with the modern glass façade we wish to give out the message that this temple is going to be a place where the traditional values meet with the modern age and bring about peace and harmony in the society through Lord Krishna’s timeless teachings as presented by Srila Prabhupada.

 

Question : Why the decision to build a skyscraper temple?

Answer : Lord Sri Krishna, through His timeless message in the Bhagavad Gita, through His wise and pragmatic counsel in the Mahabharata and His endearing pastimes in the Srimad Bhagavatam has shaped the intellectual, cultural and religious mindscape of India for millennia. It is humanly impossible to fully comprehend and estimate the contributions of Lord Sri Krishna to mankind. The vastness and depth of the ennobling influence Lord Sri Krishna has had on humanity is unprecedented in history. Like a child reaching to the moon, we wish to make an attempt to acknowledge and celebrate, on an epic scale, Lord Sri Krishna’s divine blessings to this world. In this light, it is our aspiration to create a world-class and iconic monument for Sri Krishna in the holy land of Vrindavan and proudly place Krishna on the world mindscape and Vrindavan on the world map.

Vrindavan is revered as holy town of Krishna temples. Some accounts describe that there are as many as 5000 Krishna temples – big, medium and small; ancient, medieval and recent. We wish to make a bold statement about the importance of Lord Sri Krishna and His divine mission in the world, using the contemporary architectural language. A tall, imposing skyscraper temple should proclaim the status of Vrindavan as one of India’s spiritual capitals. This should attract the attention of the world’s thinkers, leaders and other enquiring minds to know more about Lord Sri Krishna and His soothing, healing message for a harried world.

 

Question : What are some of its unique design elements?

Answer : A skyscraper temple with a height of 210 meters and footprint of about 5.5 acres, surrounded by recreated forests of Braj.

Mathura and Vrindavan are important places for Hindus all over the world. Vrindavan is especially a very revered and sacred place for the devotees of Lord Sri Krishna. In fact, the Holy Land of Vrindavan can be considered to be the spiritual capital of India.

The skyscraper temple project, conceived of by the devotees of ISKCON-Bangalore, will consist of a grand temple of Lord Sri Krishna at its centre. The grand temple shall be of monumental proportions and its iconic architecture shall harmoniously combine elements of both Indian temple architecture and modern architecture. This temple is poised to become the tallest, grandest and largest religious structure in India. The temple has a footprint of about 5.5 acres and rises to a height of about 700 feet (213 metres or 70 floors). The temple is planned to be vibrant with festivals and religious activities throughout the year.

 

Question : How much will the temple cost?

Answer : It is estimated to cost around Rs 1000 Crores.

 

Question : When was the project conceived and when is the likely completion?

Answer : The project was conceived about seven years back. Recently the Honorable President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee had participated in one of the traditional ceremonies which involve placing of the deity of Anantha signalling the launch of the foundation work. We expect to complete the project in about five years from now.

 

Question : How many devotees can be present at the temple at the same time?

Answer : The main temple complex will be free of pillars to offer a direct view of the deities of the temple. At any point of time it can house about 10,000 people in its well which houses three different temples. Sri Radha Vrindavan Chandra, Sri Nitai Gauranga and Srila Prabhupada.

 

Question : Besides worship, what will be the other facilities at the temple? (Will there be some educational classes, exhibitions, etc.)

Answer : Centred on the temple complex many attractions like indoor and outdoor theme parks, Krishna Heritage museum, and centre for Krishna Heritage studies will be created. A look-alike of the verdant forests of Vrindavan will be recreated around this magnificent temple. Designed by the world’s best landscape designers, spread over a sprawling 30 acres, it will consist of the twelve forests (dvadasha kanana) of Braj, with varieties of lush vegetation, green pastures, elegant vistas of fruit bearing trees, flower laden creepers serenaded by bird songs, clear water lakes with lotuses and lilies and water falls that tumble from small artificial hillocks –  all recreated from descriptions in the Srimad Bhagavatam and other source books of Lord Sri Krishna – to transport the visitors to Krishna’s times in Vrindavan.

While the Yamuna creek provides a boating opportunity for the visitors and the Krishna Lila attractions in the forest provide an entertaining experience for all the family members, the Bhagavad Gita Expo will ignite the minds and invigorate the intellect with the stupendous wisdom given by Lord Sri Krishna that forms the bedrock of the culture and the philosophy of life in India. The Krishna Heritage Museum will showcase the rich heritage and artistic celebration of Lord Sri Krishna in diverse cultures of India, practiced and perfected over thousands of years.

From the ground level, a capsule elevator will rise up through the temple core, taking visitors through different planetary systems in the universe as described in the Vedic literatures, through an immersive sound, light and diorama show. The capsule elevator will finally reach the visitors to the Viewing Gallery at 700 feet for a breath-taking panoramic view of Braj Mandal.

 

Question : Please give a brief about some of the construction aspects of the temple.

Answer : New York based structural consultants, Thornton Tomasetti are involved in the structural design of the skyscraper temple.  Initially teams concerning the architecture and structural design team will be working on finalizing the structural aspects of the project. Currently the piling foundation work is under progress. It is being carried out by Valecha Constructions from Mumbai. The piling foundation involves drilling deep down and erecting RCC piles which will hold the superstructure. Some of the piles are expected to be as deep as 52 metres and as wide as 1 m in diameter. These piles will have specially galvanized iron rods as opposed to using the regular iron rods. We had to get the steel rods specially galvanized so as to prevent it from getting corroded from the higher concentration of sulphur in the soil and to increase the longevity of the temple.

 

Question : Who is funding the project?

Answer : Funds for this project are being raised from devout Krishna followers from around the world be they entrepreneurs, professionals or anyone. We have evolved many programs in which anyone can participate and support the project as per his or her capacity. We expect to get major support from devout Indians from cities like Delhi, Mathura, Agra, Kanpur, Mumbai and Lucknow.

 

Question : Will there be any philanthropic schemes at the temple as well?

Answer : It is also our intent that the project should become the source and support for more soci`al intervention programs in Braj:

  • Akshaya Patra mid-day meal program for the economically challenged children of Braj. We are already feeding about 140,000 children daily in the district of Mathura in a radius of about 60 kms from where the grand temple is planned.
  • Welfare programs for the widows of Vrindavan.
  • Restoration, up-gradation and rejuvenation of the important sites of Braj where Lord Sri Krishna performed his pastimes.
  • Restoration of River Yamuna to her original and pristine glory.
  • Goshala for demonstrating cow protection, as cows are dear to Lord Sri Krishna and an important part of the Braj heritage.



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