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Global Vipassana Pagoda

Tuesday, April 3, 2012



Ever since I had set eyes on this pagoda while on the Manori trip with Hithakshi, I had been entranced and had made up my mind to pay a visit to it.
 So I invited readers to join me on a visit to the pagoda. Sherwin and Grace agreed. We decided to meet at Bhayander railway station at 3 pm. From there we were supposed to take bus no 4 to the Pagoda.
 I reached Andheri station at 2 pm. The platform was crowded, as were the trains. I let two trains go by and finally the 2.26 pm Bhayander Fast train arrived. I had to get in this train, or else I would be late. Luckily I managed to board it.
The Global Vipassana Pagoda

Grace was already there. Sherwin and I boarded different coaches in the same train. We planned to meet at the ticket booking counter from where we were to proceed to the bus depot.
Grace, who I met on the platform, had already reached the ticket counter but there was no sign of Sherwin. So I called him up to locate his whereabouts, and it seemed as if in an instant, there he was right under my nose. I hadn’t been able to spot him a few seconds earlier.
For a change we were all on time and proceeded to board the bus that would take us to the Pagoda. We were quite disappointed on learning that the next bus would leave in an hour. We boarded the 3.40 pm bus and reached the Pagoda after an hour. The bus conductor told us that there were hourly return buses. The last bus from the Pagoda to the station was at 8.30 pm and the cost of the ticket was Rs. 13 one way.

Entrance to the Global Vipassana Pagoda

Rickshaws too ply to the Pagoda. I don’t know how much a rickshaw ride would cost.
The Pagoda is the last stop on this route, two stops prior to the Essel World bus stop.
 There is no charge to visit the Pagoda and even the tour guides are free of cost. The Pagoda, open from 9 am to 7 pm, has been built completely on the strength of donations. There are donation boxes kept all around.

The Bell

The Pagoda looks amazing from here. Some parts of the structure are still incomplete, and construction is on. We entered the premises via an entrance neatly carved and painted golden and red. There were carvings of two animals there. The carvings looked very impressive, but I could not identify the animals.
We later climbed the steps and saw two identical structures just ahead of the Pagoda. There was a sculpture of four huge men carrying a bell. The bell was poised on only one structure. We rang the bell. The sound was very loud, but strangely soothing.
We entered the Pagoda. The security check was very strict here unlike the kind done in our malls and railway stations. I was happy to see that.

Statue in the premises

The Pagoda was huge and painted golden. When the sun’s rays shone on it, it looked even better. There were steps leading right up to the topmost point on the Pagoda. Right on top there are wind chimes placed which ring with even the slightest movement of the wind. The sound of the wind chimes is very pleasing to the ears.
The design on the outside walls was repetitive. Again it was a combination of gold and red colours. The walls have been covered with stone tablets featuring proverbs.

The Pagoda has many entrances, but only entrances 7 and 8 are open to the public. The same design was visible on the doors and the walls.

One of the Doors of the Pagoda

The seating area was huge and could accommodate around 8,000 to 10,000 people. The guide who showed us around told us that that no cement had been used to seal the stones and that they were interlocked with each other via the central locking stone of the dome. The bone relics of Buddha are enshrined in the central locking stone. The Dome does not have any supporting pillars to carry its weight.
 There was complete silence in the dome so we refrained from making any noise ourselves but silently continued with our photo sessions.
Later we saw the other smaller domes which are still under construction.

Inside the Pagoda

By the time we finished our photo sessions, it was around 6 pm. We decided to wait until 7 pm hours as the entire place was beautifully lit up.
 We then visited the Photo Gallery below the Pagoda; it features 123 photos, mostly related to Buddha’s lifetimes. There is an audio clip available on a payment of Rs. 20, along with a deposit of Rs. 100.
 Later we headed to the store which sells Pagoda merchandise. By the time we were done it was already dark and the lights were up near the Pagoda.

Group Pic, from left Grace, Me and Sherwin

The pagoda shone beautifully in the dark. We got some really amazing shots.
 As always hunger struck so we headed to the food court nearby to have some refreshments there. The refreshments were priced quite high but as we were hungry we didn’t mind, not that we had a choice. We concentrated more on eating and drinking and finally decided to bid farewell to the Pagoda.
 Just before leaving, we visited a huge statue of Buddha near the food court. There were lights all around the statue. It looked amazing, especially set against the backdrop of the Pagoda looming large behind it. It was truly a beautiful sight.

A statue of Buddha near the Pagoda

 We were luckily in time to board the 7.30 pm bus and managed to bag some seats in the bus. Within a few minutes we were at Essel World and a mad mob of people rushed in to board the bus. The crowd was worse than the one I had seen in the train that I boarded to reach Bhayander. As we had seats we were lucky not to be pushed around. In an overloaded bus, the risk of a fight erupting is quite high. Finally after all the commotion, we reached Bhayander railway station in an hour.
I don’t understand why the BEST does not put in more buses for the convenience of passengers, especially the Essel World returnees.
Luckily we got a fast train at Bhayander railway station to take us to Andheri.

The Pagoda at night
The Pagoda looks beautiful from the outside and that too from a distance. When you get close to it, the flaws in it become more visible. I am not saying that the design is bad, but had the monks built it, it would have been a marvelous piece of art.

We then headed home. I had to plan and pack for the Matheran overnight trip. I had had good fun with Sherwin and Grace.
 Hope you had fun reading. Join me soon on my next travel post.

2 comments:

MANISH SHINDE said...

Amazing experience share by you...
its really readable and good to face pagoda at any side....

thanks for your good comments and pictures....thank you very much to your group....

Regards
manish
+91 9224452289

Merwyn Rodrigues said...

Thanks Manish,

For reviewing my work. HOpe to see ya soon on my travel outings

cheers
merwyn

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