As an architectural wonder that helps promote peace and harmony, the Global Vipassana Pagoda near Gorai in Mumbai is a landmark monument that brings us closer to the philosophies and teachings of the great Buddha. It also has the distinction of being Asia’s tallest stone structure that majestically rises against the background of the shimmering waters of the Arabian Sea.
The Global Vipassana Pagoda has been the inspiration of the well known Vipassana meditation master Acharya S N Goenka and is representative of the teachings of Gautama Buddha. It is also an expression of the country’s heartfelt gratitude towards Emperor Ashoka and the chain of Buddhist masters starting from his teacher Moggaliputta Tissa up to the present day’s Burmese Vipassana masters like Ledi Sayadaw, Saya Thetgyi and Sayagi U Ba Khin for protecting, preserving and spreading Buddha’s teachings in India and abroad.
Built on the lines of famous Shwedegon Pagoda of Yangon, where the hair relic of the Buddha is enshrined, the Global Vipassana Pagoda houses genuine bone relics of Buddha. Some of these relics were found by the archaeology department of the imperial British government in the ruins of a ‘stupa’ in Bhattiprolu in southern India before the Second World War. They were then kept in the Museum of London and were returned to the Mahabodhi Society of India after the war. The Society presented them to Acharya Goenka to place in the Global Vipassana Pagoda for the benefit of the countless faithful who come here to meditate.
The monument is a three-storied huge hollow stone structure painted in a shining Thai golden paint. It is the world’s largest pillar-less dome especially designed for meditation. For this very reason, it is called the Vipassana Pagoda. Keeping in view the convenience of those who wish to meditate, the relics are enshrined in the centre of the middle dome and a revolving stage is created in the centre of the main dome at the ground level so that meditation can be done around it while listening to the sermons. It has the capacity of accommodating over 8,000 meditating people at a time.
The top key stone depicting the Dhamma Wheel suspended at a height of 90 feet weighs almost 4 tonnes. Besides the main pagoda there are two smaller pagodas of 60 feet height built on both sides in the north and south. The northern pagoda has a meditation hall used for teaching Anapana meditation to the general public whereas the southern pagoda contains 108 meditation cells. A grand Ashoka pillar with the Dhamma Wheel similar in shape and size to the original pillar in Sarnath has been constructed to the east of the Global Vipassana Pagoda.
The imposing complex houses a vipassana centre called Dhammapattana to the southwest of the main pagoda at the basement level where students’ courses of ten days’ duration are being conducted regularly since October 2007. The centre is well-equipped with 100 air-conditioned rooms and a meditation hall. Recently a research centre devoted to the study of Pali language and Buddha’s teachings has been established near it. There is also an audio-visual centre and a gallery of wall mounts and photographs adjacent to a book and souvenir shop. Service facilities such as rest-rooms, offices, quarters and a food court are located on the ground floor of the basement area.
Things to Do
Explore the capital of Maharashtra
Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra. It has numerous attractions for a visitor ranging from the museum visits to roadside shopping. The city is a paradise for such visitors. It truly is a city that does not sleep so it is worth exploring in the night too.
Have a Fun day at the Esselworld which is one of India’s largest amusement parks. From rib tickling crazy cups and copper choppers to scary monsters in the mist as well as adrenaline charging rocking alleys and zipper drippers, you can spend an exciting day and spend quality time with the family.
Explore the Sanjay Gandhi National Park
On the periphery of Mumbai, this is a beautiful park where tranquility prevails and the flora and fauna are allowed to have a free hand. It offers to the tourists, naturalists, bird-watchers and environment researchers a fascinating treasure of wildlife and innumerable plants and trees. In fact, almost a quarter of India’s avifauna has made their home here, including many mammals such as the elusive leopard. The park also offers various activities like boating, trekking, safaris and even a toy train ride.
Explore the Mumbai caves
The Kanheri caves have the earliest images of the Buddha in South India and were made famous across the world because Chinese monk traveller Hiuen Tsang had visited the monastery in 7th century CE and is reported to have carried a wooden image of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara to China along with numerous Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts.
Known as Mandapeshvara, the caves at Borivali, are the final chapter in the history of cave architecture in Mumbai. Along with these, the caves at Mahakali, Magathne, Elephanta, Jogeshwari etc are the testimony of the city’s rich heritage.
Distance from Mumbai: 42 kms from the domestic airport terminal in Mumbai
Global Vipassana Pagoda is located in the southwest of Mumbai, near Gorai Beach.
From the Western Express Highway, head north towards Dahisar/Borivali/Ahmedabad.
For more information log onto: www.globalpagoda.org
Contact Details: Global Vipassana Pagoda, Next to Esselworld, Gorai Village,
Borivali (West), Mumbai 400091
Telephone: 91 22 33747501 (30 lines), 022 28451204 / 1170