President to inaugurate Rs.30 crore prayer hall in Kerala

August 7th, 2010 - 3:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 7 (IANS) President Pratibha Patil will Friday inaugurate what is believed to be the costliest prayer hall in Kerala and probably one of the fanciest in the country that was built at a cost of Rs 30 crore. It is shaped like a white lotus and will be unveiled at the Santhigiri Ashram near here.
Swami Jana Nanma Jnana Thapaswi Saturday told reporters here that the 91-foot-high lotus-shaped hall named as ‘Parnasala’ is dedicated to Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru, the Ashram’s late founder.

“The prayer hall is constructed in the shape of a full-bloomed lotus in pure white marble. The president will also kick-start a month-long celebration in connection with the ‘Parnasala’ dedication,” said the Swami.

Located 21 km from the capital city, the structural marvel has 21 lotus petals in total and took 10 years for completion.

The Ashram is the final resting place of Navajyothisree Karunakara Guru, who passed away May 6, 1999.

The concrete petals are covered with white makrana marble. Around one lakh sq ft of marble was brought from Rajasthan for the project.

According to Sreekumaran Nair, structural consultant for the project, the shaping of the lotus petals took a lot of effort as the curves had to be executed perfectly and evenly.

“The construction of each petal took almost six months. The fixing of the marble tiles took another three years,” said Nair.

However, what makes the building truly unique is that the design was not given by any professional architect.

The designing and construction of the monument were carried out completely under the direction of Sishyapoojitha Janani Amritha Jnana Thapaswini, the Guru’s foremost disciple and spiritual successor.

“The ‘Parnasala’ is a functional monument which we, the disciples of the Guru, have raised as a token of our love and respect to him,” said Rajiv Anchal, sculptor and disciple of the ashram.

The articles used by the Guru will be preserved in 12 rooms on the first floor of the ‘Parnasala’.

Started in the 1960s, the Ashram is open to all, irrespective of caste, class, region, religion or gender.

Karunakara Guru lived an austere life in the Parnasala, which was then only a one-room tenement with a tiled roof.

The Ashram has been visited by an array of dignitaries, including A.P.J. Abdul Kalam when he was the president, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani.

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