ISKCON builds world’s largest Vedic temple at Mayapur

Come 2016 and Mayapur will feature on the must-visit list of tourists and devotees. If things go according to plans, the small town - the headquarter of the religious cult Iskcon - will boast the biggest Vedic temple of the world.

The temple with a height of 340 feet has been named Chandrodaya Mandir and in its completion will be a grand spectacle, bigger than the Hagia Sophia of Istanbul. The first phase of the temple is being built by Alfred Ford, the great grandson of the founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford.

Sources said construction is under way and the temple will be completed in 2016, the year Iskcon - the religious order founded by Srila Prabhupada - is set to celebrate its the 50th anniversary. The temple would have 6,750,00 square feet of covered area, of which Alfred Ford himself is building 4,250,00 square feet area. The remaining 2,500,00 square feet area would be built with subscriptions from the public for which an appeal was made on Monday. Each devotee can contribute towards the construction of just one square feet of the temple.

Talking to the media on Monday, Ford said why he was taking particular interest to help build the Chandrodaya Temple. "It is coming up at the birthplace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and is my tribute to Srila Prabhupada, who initiated me into Iskcon. Way back in 1976, Prabhupada had asked me, a young disciple then, to build this temple of his dreams. I am grateful to Lord Krishna that I have been able to do it," he said.

Interestingly, his wife Sharmila is a Bengali from Naihati. "Nearly four million visitors come to Mayapur annually. We hope that after the Chandrodaya Temple comes up, this will go up to 10 million. Alongside the temple, we are also building a modern township to accommodate this extra influx into Mayapur," added Ford.

Unlike conventional Hindu temple structures, the Chandrodaya Temple is full of huge columns and domes, representative of Western architecture. A 75-feet domed planetarium theatre, the largest of its kind in India, will be one of the unique features of the temple that is being built with imported stainless steel.

Sources said the temple was apparently prophesized 500 years ago by Lord Nityananda, a close associate of Shri Chaitanya. "Apart from being a place of worship, it will also be a centre for Vedic knowledge, culture and science. The temple is being built at an estimated cost of 75 million USD. In 2016, the first phase of the temple will be completed. It will be sometime before the second phase is completed thereafter," Ford said.

Iskcon also plans to invite the likes of Queen Elizabeth and the US President apart from the President of India for the opening of the first phase of the temple.

Though the plan was initially launched in 2006, however, certain changes in design had to be made as advised by the then state government because the area is flood prone. The earlier plan was grander than the present scale, said sources.

On being asked if he had any investment plans in Bengal, Ford promptly replied that though he didn't have any at present, he might think about setting up a nanotechnology park in the near future.

Radha Jivan Das, another saint, devotee and the spokesperson of the ISKCON said, “By 2016 the phase -1 of the construction of our holy temple will be completed and this 340 ft. tall temple will rise more than Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and if we get to see the diameter, the dome and floor space will be larger than St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.”

He informed, “This 1, 25,000 sq feet temple will be going to be graced with the largest Kirtan Hall in the world for chanting Hare Krishna and more than 10000 people can dance over there with the enchanting tune of the holy hymn.”

The President of United States, the Queen of United Kingdom and the President of India will come under the same roof on the occasion of inaugurating the largest temple in the world in 2016, said Radha Jivan Das on this occasion.

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