Living in a mega city Mumbai can be very demanding, especially when it comes to taking a breather. Life here is so mechanical and demanding that after some point of time, it starts taking toll on yourself and you start searching for places to unwind and recharge. Luckily, the mega city is not all about rush and mad hour traffic. It also has some places where you can unwind and recharge. On this day, I was about to discover one of the most beautiful places that would help me in recharging myself for the tough life ahead.
9th September 2017 – Happy 40th Birthday to me
Birthdays are always special and this time it extra special. I was making a grand entry in to the 40’s club. So decided to do something different. So after an early visit to the Siddhivinayak temple I googled for some places worth visiting.
There were many options but one thing caught my eye. Bingo!!! The decision was made and I set off to my destination.
The Golden Pagoda – A marvelous form of Architecture – Info Courtesy Wikipedia
This is not a temple where people go for prayers. I had this misconception but this was cleared when I landed there. This is a place for learning and practicing the Vipassana – a form of meditation. Vipassanā (Pāli) or vipaśyanā (Sanskrit) literally translated means “Special Seeing (special – Vi, seeing – Passanā), is a Buddhist term that is often translated as “insight”.
The main dome of the pagoda can seat 8000 meditators at a time, which makes it the largest such meditation hall in the world. Construction of the building began in the year 2000 and it was inaugurated by the then President Mrs Pratibha Patil on 8 February 2009.
Built entirely through voluntary donations, the purpose of the Global Vipassana Pagoda is to: 1) share information about Vipassana, and 2) spread information on Gotama the Buddha and his teachings. Vipassana is the practical quintessence of the universal, non-sectarian teachings of the Buddha.
Its traditional Burmese design is an expression of gratitude towards the country of Myanmar for preserving the practice of Vipassana. The shape of the pagoda is a copy of the Shwedagon Pagoda (Golden Pagoda) in Yangon, Myanmar. It was built combining ancient Indian and modern technology to enable it to last for a thousand years.
The center of the Global Vipassana Pagoda contains the world’s largest stone dome built without any supporting pillars.
The first and largest dome was completed in October 2006 when bone relics of Gautam Buddha were enshrined in the central locking stone of the dome on 29 October 2006, making it the world’s largest structure containing relics of the Buddha. The second and third domes sit atop the first dome.
The foundation of the dome consists of basalt, while the dome itself is made from sandstone brought from Rajasthan. The individual blocks of sandstone weigh 600–700 kg each and are kept in place due to the unique design of the bricks. Each of the bricks interlock with the ones adjacent to it and lime mortar is used to fill in any remaining gaps. The circumambulation path is laid in marble.
The pinnacle of the pagoda is adorned with a large crystal. The spire is covered in real gold, while the rest of the pagoda is covered in gold paint. The spire is topped with a special ornamental umbrella piece donated by the Burmese. The main doors to the pagoda are wooden and hand-carved in Myanmar (Burma).
The pagoda is right next to the famous amusement park – EsselWorld. So all you need to do is reach Esselworld and then follow the directions to the Pagoda. Its a 10 minute walk from the parking lot.
There are buses available from Bhayandar station west, but their frequency is very low (one bus every hour when I visited.) If you miss your bus, like I did, its a long wait for the second one. Rickshaws are out of question because they charge you up to 100 INR for a seat. The only good thing about taking a bus is that you are dropped off right at the steps of the pagoda. It costs me Rs. 28 (one way).
At the Pagoda
The first thing that you see is the massive dome from the distance. There are steps leading to the top with a check in counter. No intoxicants are allowed inside. I had my cigarette packets and the lighter with me, which was promptly thrown in to the dustbin by the security staff :). Cameras are allowed but no videos.
As you ascend the steps, the dome becomes more visible. You cannot help but admire this massive piece of construction in front of you.
The entire place exudes serenity and calm. There are various statues on the top. Also there’s a beautiful garden. There are spot courses in meditation offered. You can leisurely stroll around. While photography is permitted outside the main dome, it is strictly forbidden inside the main dome where people meditate. There’s also a museum which shows the life of Gautam Buddha – from his early life to the time he achieved enlightenment. This museum is worth a visit to understand the basics of Buddhism. The pagoda is open between 10 am and 6 pm on all days.
Some clicks from the pagoda
Key points to remember
- The pagoda is a place for meditation so make sure you maintain decorum at all times.
- Cooperate with the security staff.
- Respect privacy of the guests.
- Don’t carry any intoxicants like cigarettes or alcohol
- Don’t litter
Do visit this place once. Its worth
Leave your feedbacks and comments and share your pagoda experience in the comment section below. Goodbye until next time 😍