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Nitish scripts a new Ramayan

india Updated: Nov 13, 2013 02:04 IST
Arun Kumar/HT Correspondent
Nitish Kumar

The model of the world’s largest Hindu temple in Bihar, announced more than a year ago, will be unveiled on Wednesday in Patna.

At 405 feet, the proposed Viraat Ramayan Mandir in Motihari district will be nearly double the height of the renowned 215-feet-high Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia, so far the largest Hindu temple in the world.

Chief minister Nitish Kumar will unveil the temple model at Mahavir Mandir. The function will be inaugurated by Dwarka Peeth Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopananda Saraswati.

Originally designed on the lines of Angkor Wat, Bihar’s temple will be built at Janaki Nagar near Kesaria in Motihari district, around 130km from Patna.

“Once completed, it will be world’s largest Hindu temple, spread over 190 acres,” said Acharya Kishore Kunal, a retired IPS officer and administrator of the Bihar State Board of Religious Trusts, which is undertaking the project.

“Originally, it was planned to be 150-feet high, but later the proposed height was increased to 222 feet, and finally to 405 feet.”

The Viraat Ramayan Mandir will have a 20,000-seating capacity in the hall facing the main temple, which will house the statutes of Lord Ram, Sita, Lav and Kush.
“No temple in the world has such a huge seating capacity. The complex will have a total of 18 temples with high spires. The Shiva temple will have the largest
Shiv Ling in the world,” said Kunal.

He said the temple was originally named Viraat Angkor Wat Ram Mandir, but it was never meant to be just a replica.
“We were informed that the name will upset the people in Cambodia, so we changed the name to Viraat Ramayan Mandir. Nobody had forced us to do it, as there are many replicas of famous monuments around the globe. But we anyway intended to make it a magnificent temple in its own right, which will draw devotees from far and wide.”

While the Angkor Wat temple has only nine shikhars or spires, the Viraat Ramayan Mandir will have 13.

“Once the project is completed, it will further cement the age-old bond between the two culturally rich countries, India and Cambodia,” Kunal said.

The temple has been designed by architect Piyush Sompura from Ahemdabad, who will also be present during the model’s unveiling.

“The Shankaracharya will bless the temple model. We had planned a two-day function at Gandhi Maidan on this occasion. Lakhs of people would have participated in it, but we downsized the event in wake of the October 27 serial bomb blasts in Patna,” said Kunal.

The construction of the temple is expected to begin in a couple of months.

But while Nitish Kumar’s Bihar gets ready for the world’s largest temple, his rival and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has already planned the world’s tallest statue – of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – in his state. Called the ‘Statue of Unity’, Modi’s pet project was announced in 2010.

Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) severed ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and split from the NDA in June this year, after Modi was chosen as the BJP’s election campaign chief. Modi has since been made the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate.
During Wednesday’s unveiling ceremony, the Bihar chief minister will also release a pendant bearing a picture of Lord Hanuman in the front and the design of the Viraat Ramayan Mandir on the back.

“The pendant has been made in Bangalore and its golden shine will sustain for 50 years. People can buy it for Rs 501,” Kunal added.