The making of a spiritual wonder

ISKCON plans to construct a 360-foot tall Vedic Planetarium on the banks of the Ganges, built entirely from the mud and terra cotta of West Bengal
Image used for representational purpose only

ISKCON plans to construct a 360-foot tall Vedic Planetarium on the banks of the Ganges, built entirely from the mud and terra cotta of West Bengal

On the banks of the Ganges River, an approximately four-hour drive from Kolkata, lies the small town of Mayapur. Barely a village a few years ago, this little town has recently found itself on the global map, in the centre of a spiritual wonder project that is set to become the pride of India.

ISKCON, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, has undertaken a mammoth project of constructing a Vedic Planetarium with proportions, geometry, exhibits, and decor that express the timeless Vedic model of the universe. Designed to be built entirely from the mud and terra cotta of Bengal, this 360-foot-tall temple will stand for millennia, reflecting the grand spiritual aspirations and sacred design principles of India.

The Vedic Planetarium will feature a giant rotating model that demonstrates the movements of the planetary systems as described in the sacred Vedic texts. Explanations and displays will describe how these movements correspond to the visible universe of our experience. Visitors will be astonished by the many informative displays of Vedic Art, Science and Culture, including Vedic Mathematics, intelligent design in nature, social science and social organisation.

The entire complex will be built five meters above the highest recorded flood level of the Ganges. The entire structure will rest atop a poured concrete slab 2.5 meters thick covering roughly four acres. This slab will act as a raft to literally float the building on the muddy Gangetic delta, which makes up the town of Mayapur. The temple will consist of three connected domed structures, the smallest of which, the Exhibition Hall, is set to be about nine stories high.

The construction team is being spearheaded by Alfred Ford, grandson of the American business tycoon and founder of Ford Motors, Harrison Ford and noted physicist Dr Richard L Thompson, who has uncovered remarkable parallels between the Vedic model and modern science. For example, the Vedic model of Bhu-mandala(The Vedic term for universe) provides a remarkably accurate map of our solar system and the general description of Bhu-mandala closely resembles descriptions of the universe found in many other ancient cultures in Asia, Europe, and South America.

A truly wondrous temple of this scale and magnitude can neither stand in a vacuum nor rely on society’s uncertainties to create an appropriate setting. Hence ISKCON has also included local regional development as part of the Vedic Planetarium project. To preserve the peace of two distinct communities (pilgrims and residents), town designers will knit together around the temple two towns within one. Using principles of simplicity, sustainability, and traditional Bengali design, they will put in place a standard architecture for residential, commercial, and institutional buildings that frames and reflects the original temple structure. Besides providing educational and cultural opportunities, project leaders will seek to revive and enhance traditional trades such as weaving, agriculture, and handicrafts, bringing local products to national and international markets. As the Mayapur project unfolds, everyone in the region will enjoy an enriched quality of life.

Around 95 per cent of the construction for the primary structure has been completed. A significant portion of the project construction cost comes from the personal donation of Alfred Ford, who has contributed a whopping Rs 250 crore for this project. The entire project construction and regional development cost though, is expected to touch Rs 700 crore and efforts are on worldwide, seeking contributions from spiritualists, Vedic enthusiasts and Non Resident Indians, who may wish to contribute to the glory of their motherland.

For those seeking to contribute, no donation is too small, and you could consider sponsoring one of the following: One Square Foot—$150; One tile—$1,000—a tile in your name will be placed on the altar of the Lord; One brick $1600 or $2,500—a brick in your name will be placed on the altar of the Lord; One silver coin—$25,000 or $51,000—you will receive a solid metal commemorative coin along with the brick and tile benefits.
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