Convention hub at Belur Math


By Kinsuk Basu
  • Published 18.09.17
The plot in the Belur Math compound where the convention centre will come up 
(picture by Bishwarup Dutta)
Sri Ramakrishna temple at the Math

Sept. 17: An international convention centre will come up on the Belur Math premises, the first big construction project at the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission in decades.

The G+4 structure, to come up to the left of the main entrance of the sprawling Howrah campus by the Hooghly, will be in consonance with the aesthetics of the other structures in the compound.

The 15,000sq ft building will have three convention halls on different floors - with capacity varying between 300 and 1,200 - and 20 rooms on the top floor for senior monks and guests from abroad.

According to Math and Mission sources, construction is set to start after the Puja. The building is likely to be ready in a year and a half.

The plot, now used to grow vegetables, is opposite the building housing quarters for senior monks of the Math and Mission. "The vegetation on the plot will be cleared soon after Durga Puja at the Math is over to pave the way for the construction of the convention centre," a Math source said.

"We have decided to name the centre after Swami Abhedananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna," Swami Suvirananda, general secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, told Metro. "Belur Math needs such a convention centre as it lacks a dedicated centre for monastic conferences."

To be built at an estimated cost of Rs 20 crore, the convention centre will have an atrium, a hall where guests will gather for refreshments, a cafeteria and a reception hall. There will also be a help desk and an information centre. The three convention halls will have high-quality audio-visual equipment and wireless broadband connection.

The cafeteria will be the first of its kind on the Belur Math premises.

Conventions and congregations at Belur Math are held at the old library hall behind the Sri Ramakrishna temple or at Sanskriti Bhawan, at the southern end of the campus, near the residence of the president of the order. Both venues can only accommodate around 350 people.

"Besides, the old library hall and the Sanskriti Bhawan are old structures and not suitable for hosting world-class conferences," a monk said. "In 2014, when we had organised an international youth convention as part of the concluding ceremony of the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, a pandal had to be erected to the east of the main (Sri Ramakrishna) temple to accommodate the large number of delegates. The devotees' convention the same year had witnessed a turnout of 13,000. So, we have to create additional space."