Replica of historic Angkor Wat temple to come up in Bihar

Replica of historic Angkor Wat temple to come up in Bihar

Nearly nine centuries after the world’s tallest Hindu shrine – Angkor Wat temple - was built in Cambodia, its replica is all set to come up in Bihar’s Vaishali district.

A file picture of Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia .

The foundation stone for an identical shrine of Angkor Wat – a Unesco world heritage site – was laid near Hajipur (Vaishali) recently.

The proposed temple will come up on the sprawling campus of 15 acres of land on Hajipur-Biddupur road at an estimated cost of Rs 100 crore. “The temple, much like the original structure at Angkor (Cambodia), will be five-storeyed and have five shikhars (pinnacle). The height of the central shikhar will be 222 feet,” Acharya Kishore Kunal, secretary of the Mahavir Mandir Trust, told Deccan Herald. The Trust is building the temple.

The Angkor Wat temple was built in the 12th century during the reign of Cambodian King Suryavarman II. As of today, this temple has the highest shikhar in the world. “In India, the 214 feet shikhar of Brihadeeswarar temple of Thanjavur is the highest/tallest one,” said Kunal, a retired IPS officer, who is also the administrator of Bihar State Religious Trust Board (BSRTB).

To be named Virat Angkor Wat Ram Mandir, the temple near Hajipur will be spread over one lakh square feet and have deities such as Rama-Sita, Radha-Krishna, Shiva-Parvati, Ganesh, Surya and 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Kunal said the idea to create a replica of Angkor Wat temple cropped up about two months back when some people of the Hajipur area urged him to construct a mandir on the Trust land. “It was then that I decided a replica of Angkor Wat temple could come up and be named after Lord Rama,” said Kunal, who has worked closely with three Prime Ministers - VP Singh, Chandrashekhar and PV Narasimha Rao. He was also involved in the crucial Ayodhya talks in early 90s during his stint as a member of Ayodhya cell in the PMO besides being an OSD in MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs).

When he was in the IPS, the mere mention of his name used to send shivers down the criminals’ spine. A Gujarat-cadre officer, who served Bihar for more than 20 years in different capacities, (right from Senior SP of Patna to IG, CISF), Kishore Kunal is known as much for his impeccable integrity as for streamlining the functioning of various temples in Bihar.    
Having opted for VRS in 2001, Kunal, as chairman of Bihar State Religious Trust Board, has today virtually turned the Bihar temples into a money-spinner. No wonder, a cancer hospital and various schools are being run under the aegies of Mahavir Mandir Trust. And all this with the offerings from lakhs of devotees across the State.
“On March 5, the Bhoomi Puja (foundation prayer) for the Virat Angkor Wat Ram Mandir was performed on the land near Hajipur-Biddupur road.  The value of the land is around Rs 30 crore and the construction cost of the structure is expected to be around Rs 30 crore. It’s finishing and installations of the deities will require another Rs 40 crore,” said Kunal.

“I hope the temple structure will be complete in the next five years,” added Kunal, who has also proposed the area to be known as Angkor Nagar.

No sooner the bhoomi puja was over than help for construction of the temple started pouring in. Piyush Sompura of Gujarat, who specialises in temple architecture, has offered his services for the project. “I received a call from Sompura, who has offered his services. I was pleasantly surprised,” Kunal, who earlier also served in Gujarat as an IPS officer, said.

Sompura has offered to stay in Patna throughout the construction of the temple so that he could personally supervise the project. The renowned architect said it would be an honour for him to be associated with the construction of this huge temple, which will be identical of the world’s largest shrine - Angkor Wat temple of Cambodia.

He is likely to come over to Bihar to discuss the nitty-gritty of the project with Kunal, who is mulling over the proposal to visit Cambodia in June this year to collect the finer details of the Angkor Wat temple. “A team of architects, who are supposed to execute the project, will also be sent to Cambodia,” averred Kunal before signing off.

The Archaeological Survey of India carried out restoration work on the temple between 1986 and 1992. Since the 1990s, Angkor Wat has seen continued conservation efforts and a massive increase in tourism. The temple is part of the Angkor World Heritage Site, which has provided some funding and has encouraged Cambodia to protect the site.

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