Over 8,000 people can seat comfortably inside the stone dome!
Global Vipassana Pagoda at Mumbai – India
World’s Largest Structure Containing the Bone Relics of Buddha
By Shanti Mahadevan
The largest pagoda in Asia is built on Gorai Island in Mumbai, India, as part of the Esselworld Amusement Park. It has the largest man made dome, and the largest rock cave in the world. The project was initiated by the Global Vipassana Foundation – a world body propagating the teachings of Buddha. The complex has been established to promote the practice of Vipassana – meaning insight into the nature of reality in the Buddhist tradition.
Construction History of Global Pagoda
Designed by the traditional stone structure expert Chandubhai Sompura, the Global Pagoda is modeled on the Shwedagon Pagoda at Yangon in Myanmar. This traditional Burmese design and the complex is an expression of gratitude to Buddha, towards his followers for eradicating suffering, for their educating the public about the life and teachings of Buddha, and towards Myanmar for preserving the practice of Vipassana.
Combining ancient Indian and modern technology, the Global Pagoda is built to withstand an earthquake measuring 8.6 on the Richter scale. It is built of stones, each weighing about 600 – 700 kg and ferried from the quarries of Jodhpur in Rajasthan. The idea of interlocking stone pieces was suggested by Chandubhai. It took 11 years, 2.5 million tones of stones, 3.87 million man days, and widespread research to build the monument of peace and harmony.
Description of Global Vipassana Pagoda
The Global Vipassana Pagoda is built over 11 acres of land donated by a student’s family, and the contribution of Rs80 crores towards its construction was given by the past students of Vipassana. The centre of the pagoda boasts of the world’s largest stone dome built without any supporting pillars. While the height of the dome is approximately 29 m, the height of the building is 96.12 m, which is twice the size of the previously largest hollow stone monument in the world, the Gol Gumbaz Dome in Bijapur, India.
The pagoda consists of three sub-domes. The external diameter of the dome is 97.46m, and that of the centre dome is 94.82m. The internal diameter is 85.15m. The first dome was completed in October 2006. Bone relics of Gautama Buddha were enshrined in the central locking stone of the dome on 29th October 2006, making it the world’s largest structure containing relics of the Buddha. The relics were originally found in the stupa at Sanchi and have been donated by the Mahabodhi Society of India and the prime minister of Sri Lanka to be kept at the Global Vipassana Pagoda. The second and third domes sit atop the first dome. The third dome was completed on 21st November, 2008.
The inside is hollow with an area of more than 6000 m2 (65,000 ft2), and it serves as a large meditation hall for over 8000 people enabling them to practice the Vipassana taught by Acharya S.N. Goenka.
The pinnacle of the pagoda is adorned with a large crystal. The spire is covered in real gold, while the rest of the pagoda in gold paint. While the marble used for the floor and the special ornamental umbrella atop the spire was presented by the people of Myanmar, the golden paint used typically at pagodas was given by the people from Thailand, this color not being available in India. The main doors to the pagoda are wooden and hand-carved in Myanmar.
Founder of Global Vipassana Foundation
Acharya S. N. Goenka, founder of Global Vipassana Foundation, has helped in propagating the ancient meditation technique that was rediscovered by Gautama Buddha. Known to cure universal ills, this technique involves mental purification which helps people fight stress and live a more balanced life. He has taught for three decades and this technique is gaining momentum and being taught in over 100 countries, including in prisons such as the Tihar Jail – Asia’s largest prison, New Delhi, India.
The Global Vipassana Pagoda claims allegiance to no religion and is merely a center for people to learn meditation. Thousands of Vipassana practitioners from India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, China, Japan and other parts of the world came together at Gorai when the doors of Global Vipassana Pagoda were first thrown open to masses.
The Complete Pagoda Complex
Though the Global Vipassana Pagoda complex is still under construction, it is worth a visit. Ten-day Vipassana meditation courses are held free at the meditation centre of the complex. The pagoda complex will consist of the following structures: Pagoda dome containing relics of Buddha (complete), Vipassana meditation centre Dhamma Pattana (complete), Two smaller pagodas on the north and south side (north pagoda complete), Administration building (complete), Library and study rooms, Museum depicting life of the Buddha, Circumambulation path around the dome, Underground parkade. The south pagoda will contain 100 meditation cells for use by the Vipassana students taking a meditation course.
One can come by train, taxi or auto rickshaw.
By Train: From Borivili railway station, a bus, taxi or an auto rickshaw will take one to Gorai Bay. From there a ferry goes to the island and a round trip ticket costs Rs 35. The ferry trip takes 15-20 minutes to reach the island. From there one can walk down to the pagoda.
By Bus: Bus Nos 247 and 294 ply between Borivili railway station and the bay.
A National Geography Review:
An architechtural Engineering Marvel: The world largest Hollow Stone Dome Ever Built Without Supporting Structure!
Inauguration of Global Vipassana Pagoda in Mumbai
Phật Quang Cổ Tự
(built 857AD – Đời Nhà Đường)
Quận Ngũ Đài Sơn, tỉnh Sơn Tây (gần Vạn Lý Trường Thành), China
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Chùa Tịnh Độ, Nhật Bản