Vellore: One of the biggest Hindu shrines in southern India, the Sri Puram Golden Temple a grand golden temple built by a spiritual organization in Tamil Nadu at an approximate cost of US$160 million (Rs 600 crore), the consecration (kumbhabhishekam) was performed on August 24, 2007, presence of over 30,000 devotees. The Mahalakshmi temple, located on a sprawling 100 acres of land at Sripuram, near Vellore, about 125 km from Chennai, has been constructed by Vellore-based Sri Narayani Peetam, headed by spiritual leader Sri Sakthi Amma. "The Taj Mahal was built as an expression of love for a single person but the Sri Puram Golden Temple stands for unconditional love for the entire humanity," says Amma, 31, who also goes by the name of Shakti Siddha.
"We know it is also the sign of the universal goddess – Lakshmi," says William, who gives only one name and says he is of Canadian origin. The steps that lead to the innermost section are laid with polished black and grey granite from the neighboring South Arcot and Dharmapuri districts. The grey stone called "Paradiso" because of its wavy patterns of violet with the color of iron. And this too has been used in large quantities.
"If we had built a hospital, factory, educational institution or a business, it would have ended up serving a small community. But now, Amma’s temple will sow the seeds of goodness in the hearts of everyone who visits here," Amma, clad in ochre robes, says in Tamil.
The temple, covering 55,000 sq ft area, has intricate carvings and sculptures in gold. Except the walking path, the entire structure has been covered with gold and copper. This would be more grandeur than the Golden Temple in Amritsar, mutt sources said. About 400 goldsmiths and coppersmiths, including craftsmen from Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams, have completed the architectural marvel in gold in six years. More than one and one-half ton of pure gold was glitter and gleam under the sun, Devotees hail the temple as "one of the wonders of the world," and say that it is the only temple covered fully with gold.
According to official sources, the gold bars were purchased through RBI in "a transparent manner. " First the coppersmiths set to work creating a copper base on the temple structure with engravings and etchings before the gold, beaten into nine layers of foils, was draped around it. The sanctum sanctorum will hold the Deity of Mahalakshmi made of stone granite, but covered with gold kavacham (adornments). "The Sripuram or Spiritual Park is Amma’s dedication to the world and mankind," said P. Murali, a trustee of the Peetam.
Surrounded by mountains and lush and scenic beauty, the temple, entirely conceived and designed by Amma, would be open to people of all religions. "The temple is Amma’s gift to mankind," the sources said. "When one enters the Sripuram, their focus is just on the magnificent temple. But when they leave, they cannot do so without taking some messages and gaining some wisdom," according to a booklet detailing the ‘services’ rendered by the Peetam. "In this quagmire of materialism, Sripuram rises as an inspiration to man to find the divinity wit hin him," adds a brochure.
Murali said arrangements were being made to hire personnel to throw a security cover around the temple. "But the gold sheets have been laid out in such a manner that it would cost more to rip it off than purchase the gold," said a top Vellore district official.
The Sri Lakshmi Narayani Temple located in ‘Sripuram’ (spiritual town) in Thirumalaikkodi, about seven km from here, was consecrated by Sri Sakthi Amma, head of the Sri Narayani Peedam, Thirumalaikkodi, on Friday.
It is a unique temple whose ‘Vimanam’ and ‘Ardha Mandapam’ have been coated with gold both in the interior and exterior. Twelve layers of gold foils have been pasted on copper sheets embossed with the designs of Gods and fixed on the walls. One-and-a-half tonnes of gold has gone into the design of the Sri Lakshmi Narayani Temple, which has been built at a cost of Rs.300 crore.
According to Sri Sakthi Amma, the decision to have the temple coated with gold is only to attract visitors and enable them to get wisdom through the messages of the Vedas, which they will have to read before reaching the temple located on sprawling a 100 acre-site. The temple has been designed in such a way that visitors can reach the golden temple only after going through a star-shaped pathway, which has the messages from the Vedas on both sides.