Pahari Mandir in Ranchi on Friday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Spirituality meets geology meets technology.
A hillock older than the Himalayas with an age-old and imposing temple of lord Shankar — another name for Shiva — is all set to get a new look in Ranchi, thanks to blueprints prepared by the BIT-Mesra.
The site, one of the capital’s all-time landmarks, will have additions in the form of a model of New Delhi’s famous Akshardham temple, a vivaah mandap (structure dedicated to weddings), many holy peepal (Ficus religiosa) and kalptaru (baobab) trees, rainwater harvesting structures and guard wall.
BIT-Mesra, preparing the three-phase blueprint for the preservation-cum-development plan of Pahari Mandir, has submitted the first two to Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC), the hillock’s civic guardian.
A couple of years ago, BIT-Mesra was asked to prepare the blueprints by the Pahari Mandir temple committee, which is headed by the Ranchi deputy commissioner.
According to its estimate, the Akshardham model temple and vivaah mandap would cost Rs 12 crore to build. The temple committee will fund these from its own coffers.
Civic works such as tree plantation, rainwater harvesting and guard walls will cost around Rs 3 crore and be funded by state urban development department. The RMC will execute the tasks.
Earlier, the department had given some Rs 44 lakh to Ranchi Regional Development Authority (RRDA) for guard walls and pathways, vital safety needs for pilgrims.
Right now, Pahari Mandir temple management committee has funds of around Rs 1.65 crore. “It’s a fraction of the estimated budget of Rs 12 crore for the new temple envisaged at the hillock to be modelled after Akshardham. But we are sure that funds will be arranged with the help of donations of the devout who visit the temple every day,” said Daya Shankar Sharma, founder-patron of the temple committee.
“The RMC will arrange the Rs 3 crore for rainwater harvesting structures, tree plantation and boundary wall,” RMC public relations officer Naresh Sinha said.
City-based geologist Nitish Priyadarshi, who prepared a report for the temple committee on rocks of the hillock, said preservation was vital. “The rock type is khondalite and predates the Himalayas. Most Konark and Bhubaneswar statues have been carved on this type of rock but many have weathered badly,” Priyadarshi said.
He added the Himalayas were around 65-100 million years old, but the Pahari Mandir hillock was around 600-900 million years old.
“It is mind-boggling,” he said.
“Interestingly, Pahari Mandir is India’s only temple where the Tricolour is hoisted during Independence Day and Republic Day. The UPSC asked a question on this during its 2008 prelims,” Sharma added.