Beyond the traffic snarls and polluted air of Mumbai stands a 325-ft-tall structure in Gorai that may soon be an attraction for seekers of peace.
President Pratibha Patil will inaugurate the Global Vipassana Pagoda, which is pegged as the tallest stone monument in Asia, on February 8.
Nestled amidst the mangroves, the pagoda is a result of 11 years of hardwork. The pagoda, as tall as a nine-storied building, can accommodate 8,000 meditators at a time.
“The monument has been built by interlocking sandstone from Jodhpur. The stones have grooves cut in them to hold them in place,” said Madan Mutha, a civil engineer and trustee of the pagoda.
“It is as an architectural and engineering marvel designed by Indian architects Chandubhai Sompura. We got the structural plan double checked by IIT,” he added.
The central dome, which does not have a single supporting pillar, is adorned with a gold-plated wheel with 24 spokes that represents the wheel of dharma.
The structure is expected to be a tourist attraction for its intricate work and artwork.
While the main dome has two small pagodas with gold-plated crowns on it — each of them being a 10th of the size of the main pagoda — the central hall has eight sandalwood doors with Burmese artwork, based on the Lumbini Path.
“The wooden carvings and gold-plated umbrella crowns have come from Burma and is a symbol of gratitude to India, the birthland of Lord Buddha,” said Mutha.
Spread across a green expanse of 11 acres, the pagoda was built at an approximate cost of Rs 105 crore — donated by Vipasana followers from across the world.
The Vipassana centre also has a closed viewing gallery overlooking the area, which is likely to be a tourist attraction.
“The Vipassana centre has a library and art galleries,” said Mutha. “It will be like a shrine for our followers.”