The Global Vipassana Pagoda is a short drive (1 hour) from the intensely packed Mumbai. You can also choose to go there by catching a ferry over the Gorai Khadi at Borivli. It is a great place to have a relaxed evening.
The Global Vipassana Pagoda can be seen from my home window, at a distance, ’til a new building rose up and killed the view of this beautiful structure. So I decided to go there and check it out!
There are two ways to get to the Pagoda:
1. Get to Gorai Khadi (jetty), take a ticket to Esselworld (Mumbai’s only theme park!) for Rs. 30. Get off at Esselworld gate and walk on the road which turns to the left. And voila, you are at the gates of the Pagoda.
2. Take your car, drive to Bhayndar, turn left, head to Uttan, drive on ’til Gorai and once you reach the Gorai Village, keep your eyes open for direction boards that will lead you to the Pagoda.
It is designed as a replica of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda of Yangon, Myanmar and has a distinction of housing the largest, pillar-less dome on earth (which is the meditation center)! Some of the facts about the Pagoda are fascinating.. check these out:
- The genuine relics of the Buddha are enshrined here.
- It is one of the largest stone monuments in Asia.
- The technique of inter-locking stones is used to construct the monument. This negates the need for any pillars in the construction of the Pagoda.
- At its centre is a huge meditation hall, 280 feet in diameter which has a seating capacity of 8000 people
- At 325 feet height, it is almost as tall as a 30 storey building.
- Approximately 2.5 million tons of stone was used in the construction.
- 3.87 million man-days were required to complete the monument.
- It took 11 years to finish. The foundation stone was laid in October 1997 and the construction was completed in November 2008.
When you reach the Pagoda, the size overwhelms you. It’s golden coat shines brightly in the sunlight. The Pagoda has 1000 wind bells on the top which create unique and calming melodies. The whole area also has many corners that you can sit in peacefully.
Walk into the museum to know more about Lord Buddha’s life, the science behind Vipassana meditation technique and pick up some books. There is a gallery for visitors inside the dome. It is incredible, so make sure you go there (no cameras allowed here). There are statues of Lord Buddha and his disciples, a replica of Ashoka pillar and incredibly intricate designs on the facade of the Pagoda. The red and golden color of the structure, though a bit garish, goes well with the place. You can also register for a 10-day residential meditation course, which the center runs (needs advance registration).
Around the Pagoda, you will see bits of the beach at Gorai, the Arabian Sea and the Mumbai skyline at a distance. You can visit the Pagoda anytime of the year but remember, the closing time is 5:30 PM.