After a very productive year in 2016, the team working on ISKCON’s upcoming flagship temple – the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium (TOVP) – have reported that the superstructure of the 520,000 square foot building has been completed.
In addition, plastering and brickwork of the whole building has been finished, as well as external concreting of the three domes, including the 370-foot-high main dome.
Marble work on all eight staircases surrounding the temple rooms is close to completion, and waterproofing, plumbing and electrical is ongoing.
An internal view of the stunning main dome
The chatris, or pavilions, on the pillars around the temple’s outer circumference have been concreted, and workers have begun to lay the already iconic blue tiles on them. The chatris’ marble cladding, pillar placement and ornamental peacock installation have also commenced.
More detailwork will be the focus in 2017. Ornate brackets made in Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC), onsite in the TOVP’s own GRC workshop, are being installed on the side domes. Each bracket is 7’5” wide, 9’2” high and weighs about 1,984 pounds. Each side dome will have 16 of them, while the main dome will be decorated with 24 brackets.
The Kalashes – the ornate golden fixtures made to top the domes and chatris – are being manufactured in Russia. The kalashes for the chatris have already been delivered and are being installed this month.
Cladding the domes with marble
The chakras intended to top the kalashes are also being made in Russia, and two chakras for the small domes have already been completed. Built to very careful specifications, they are coated in titanium nitrate, and in some areas gold; and have a diameter of 10’6”. The big chakra for the main dome, meanwhile, will measure 20.6 feet in diameter.
Metal casting for the TOVP’s fences, grills and railings has also begun at an old Kolkata metal foundry.
“At this foundry they prepare hundreds of molds during a three-day period, then cast the metal for three more days non-stop,” says TOVP managing director Sadhbuja Das. “Casting involves a continuous process that begins with metal melting and pouring at 7AM, and concluding at 8PM. During the day the workers fill up crucibles to melt the iron and then run around barefoot with the melted iron, pouring it into sand molds on what appear to be endless mold fields.”
The giant chakras are being made in Russia
Various artisan work is also underway, and murtis of the parampara, demigods and other assorted sculptures are in various stages of production.
A gold effect is being added onto the main dome ribs using titanium nitrate, and the process of covering the ribs with GRC sections has begun
Later in 2017, the chakras for the two smaller domes will go up, and blue tiling will begin to go onto the domes.
Blue tiling has begun to be installed on the chatris, or pavilions surrounding the main dome
Marble work on the walls outside the main temple entrance has begun, and once that’s finished sandstone work will commence.
For Srila Prabhupada, who envisioned the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium, work on an extraordinary vyasasana with a unobstructed view of the altar will begin. The asana will rest on elephants carved out of marble, symbolizing strength and purity. It will be flanked by marble lions symbolizing Prabhupada’s courage and majesty, which steers people towards the eternal sanctuary of the Lord.
The entire asana will be sheltered by a wooden Shikhara supported by four wooden columns with gold gilding. The backdrop will have exquisite intricate marble carvings inspired by traditional Gaudiya Vaisnava tilak. Finally, the asana will be accessible by pure white marble steps on all three sides, to make offerings to Srila Prabhupada.
Ornate brackets being installed on the side domes
This year, work will also commence on the gigantic altar for Sri Sri Pancha-Tattva, Sri Sri Radha-Madhava, and the Six Goswamis of Vrindavana.
The work has been possible due to the kind donations of devotees around the world. Last year, people around the world donated $5 million to the project. This year, TOVP teams will continue their international fundraising tours, visiting Malaysia, Australia, and China.
“My heartfelt thanks goes out to all the devotees worldwide who contributed their might to support the construction of the Temple of the Vedic Planetarium in 2016,” says chairman Ambarisa Das (Alfred B. Ford). Without you this immense project would simply not be possible. Together we are all endeavoring to develop ISKCON’s World Headquarters and especially its centerpiece temple, which will preach to the world the glories of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and the yuga dharma.”
One of the many sculptures being created to decorate the temple
Sadhbuja adds: “I’d also like to thank all of the devotees working on the site here in Mayapur around the clock, putting in between 10 and 14 hours a day, to make this wonderful temple happen.”
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To donate towards the TOVP construction, please visit https://tovp.org/donate/seva-opportunities/