Pictured below are some images of the unveiling of the first model of the TOVP, made under Srila Prabhupada’s personal guidance and direction in 1971. An initiation ceremony also took place on this occasion. Later, he changed the design to include a dome that resembled the US Capitol Building dome in Washington, D.C.. Below is Bhavananda’s recollection of this first showing of the TOVP model by ISKCON’s original fundraiser, Srila Prabhupada, as he unveiled the model before a group of potential donors.
“The photos are circa November, 1971 in the temple room of the Alberta Rd. ISKCON temple in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata). Prabhupada was initiating a few devotees. Everything was very simple at that time. The model being displayed is the Mayapur project.
In August of the same year at the Bury Place temple in London, Prabhupada would meet with Ranchor, Nara Narayan and myself every morning and he would describe what and how the temple should look, and Ranchor would do the drawings which Prabhupada would look at. When we all arrived in Calcutta a few months later via Nairobi, Mombasa and Bombay, Prabhupada had the model made and displayed in the temple room for fundraising.
The model had four guesthouses at the rear of the land of which the present Lotus building was the first, and the temple filled the balance of the ISKCON land with the entrance from Bhaktisiddhanta Road. Of course, things have changed somewhat, but height and grandeur have remained. Prabhupada’s main desire for a “big dome” has always been the main feature of the temple.”
Some of Srila Prabhupada’s Instructions for the TOVP Architecture:
Prabhupada: We are just attempting a big planetarium in Mayapur. We have asked government to acquire land, 350 acres. That is negotiation going on. We shall give a Vedic planetarium.
George Harrison: Is that the one you were talking about? With all the…
Prabhupada: In the Fifth Canto.
Gurudasa: The planetarium will be 350 feet high and show the cosmology of the spiritual world.
Prabhupada: The construction will be like your Washington Capitol, like that.
George Harrison: A big dome.
Prabhupada: Yes. Estimated eight crores of rupees.
Room Conversation — July 26, 1976, London
We must have a nice center at Mayapur because we are expecting there students from all over the world. Plans of the temple have already been made and you should have received them by now. The buildings should be exactly in the same pattern. The size may be changed according to the engineering technology. I have shown in London the Westminster Abbey to Syamasundara, Bhavananda and Nara Narayana. Perhaps you have also seen it. I want the inside just like the Westminster Abbey. You will understand from the plans what is my desire in this connection.
Letter to Tamala Krishna — September 16, 1971, Mombasa, Kenya
Prabhupada: I wanted both of you to take various detailed photographs of that Capitol.
Yadubara: The Capitol Building. For what purpose, Srila Prabhupada?
Prabhupada: We shall have picture, planetarium in Mayapur.
Room Conversation — July 6, 1976, Washington, D.C.
To view the entire collection of photos, go to the First TOVP Model page on the TOVP website.
© Bhaktivedanta Book Trust International. Used with permission.