| Gol Park barricaded to create the eight-ft-high cemented pedestal on which the new bronze likeness of Swami Vivekananda will stand. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Dwarfed by development, the seven-ft white marble statue of Swami Vivekananda opposite Ramakrishna Mission, Gol Park, will be replaced by a more imposing 12-ft bronze likeness next month.
Installed in 1966, the old statue has already been shifted to the Mission building to make way for its successor. It was believed to be the first statue of Vivekananda in the city, unveiled 64 years after the monk's death by then chief minister Prafulla Chandra Sen. Swami Bireswarananda Maharaj was president of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission at the time.
'Today, the small statue of Swamiji does not fit in with the development of Gol Park and south Calcutta,' said Swami Gahanananda Maharaj, newly-elected president of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, on Sunday.
He had previously pointed out the need to replace the statue with a larger one, as had devotees from across the country.
'In response to pleas from our devotees, we decided last year to replace the present statue with a new, 12-ft bronze one,' said Swami Prabhananda, Mission secretary. The new statue will be mounted on an eight-ft-high cemented pedestal in the park, giving it better visibility in the congested thoroughfare.
Anit Ghosh of the Government College of Art and Craft has been assigned the job of creating the image, at a cost of around Rs 12 lakh to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.
'I readily agreed to bear the cost when I was shown a few letters from devotees suggesting the installation of a giant statue of Swamiji at Gol Park in place of the old one. This is a necessity, in the light of overall development of the Gol Park area,' said mayor Subrata Mukherjee.
The artist said he is working overtime with a team of around 25 to complete the job on time. 'The statue is being made of nearly 1.5 tonnes of bronze,' he said. The bronze casting is in progress at Ghosh's Khardah foundry.
'We will be preserving the old statue on the Mission campus,' added secretary Swami Prabhananda.