AMRITSAR: In its bid to boost the ‘secular’ poll campaign, Punjab government has roped in three keshdhari Sikhs ( who do not trim their hair or beard), working as professors at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar to design the Rs 115-crore Valmiki temple in Amritsar.
The professors — Karamjit Singh Chahal, Sarabjot Singh Behl, and Rawal Singh Aulakh — work in the department of architecture in the Amritsar university.
Desperate to strengthen its political fortunes ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Akali Dal-BJP government in the state has embarked on this move to construct the temple to woo the 22-lakh-strong Valmiki community, which makes for 40% of the scheduled caste (SC) population in Punjab. The Punjab government, on Friday, held a mega stone laying ceremony in Amritsar, that was attended by several renowned people including spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, yoga guru Baba Ramdev among others.
Even though the trio dismiss the temple construction as a poll plank, they have been particular in attempting a design that is different from both a regular gurudwara and a temple.
“We have not used the dome structure of gurudwara. We have also ruled out the concept of a shikhar (the usual square or pyramid-top structures) which most of temples have. Here the top of the temple is conical in nature. But it’s a privilege for us that we have designed the architecture of such an important shrine for the Valmiki communty,” Prof Chahal told TOI.
The design was finalised over eight meetings held over six months with the chief minister, he added. The new temple would be, in addition, to the existing hut that marks the site where Sita gave birth to her two sons Lava and Kush and also still extant are Valmiki’s hut.
The chief minister’s idea to “secularise” Amritsar’s voting population may not be misplaced as a section of historians in Punjab believe that Sikhs, with Bedi as their surname trace their descent from Kush and those with from Lava.
With its height and area double the size of the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, situated just about 11km away, it is likely to emerge as the new destination for Hindu devotees.
The Golden Temple is approximately 42 feet in height and 48 feet wide. The main design of the Valmiki temple has been conceived as a central sanctum sanctorum hall with dimension of 84feetx84feetX84feet.
There is a five-tiered shikhar with a kalasha atop over the central shall comprises with two spiral staircases on each side bisecting first floor cantilevered gallery, Chahal said.
The material for temple is largely Jaisalmer stone known to have been used in monuments, sculptures in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
The central hall will be flanked by four porticos. Of them, two porticos are approached by two bridges (causeways) to allow devotees to walk to the hall. These two bridges are 60 and 100 feet respectively. The width of either bridge is the same: 29 feet and 8 inches.
The temple would later be expanded into an 11-acre site which will also have a sangat hall, with capacity of 5,000 people, a museum and panorama to highlight the life and history of Valmiki.
Originally Published by Rohan Dua of TOI