Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday inaugurated the world’s largest dome at the Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT)’s World Peace University (MIT-WPU) campus at Loni Kalbhor on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Institute authorities have said the structure, called the ‘World Peace Monument’ dome, took nearly 13 years to build. At 160 ft in diameter and 263 ft tall, it is larger in area than the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (which is 136 ft. in diameter and 448 ft. in height). Speaking on the occasion, Naidu said, “Terrorism, violence, discrimination and poverty are among the most daunting challenges facing us today. No religion in the world advocates terrorism. All nations across the globe must unite to combat the scourge of terrorism.”
Remarking on the MIT-WPU dome, he said, “This enormous structure is an architectural wonder. Constructing a 160 ft diameter structure with only 24 columns as the foundation is a remarkable feat. I am delighted to inaugurate one of the largest domes in the world and appreciate the efforts of MIT for this structure.” The dome is built atop the MIT World Peace Library and the World Peace Prayer Hall, which are named after the 13th century poet-saint and philosopher Dnyaneshwar — a pivotal figure of the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra.
Each of the 24 massive columns in the ‘World Peace Monument’ dome stand 63 feet tall. The prayer hall can accommodate about 3,500 people and is embellished with more than 50 statues of saints, philosophers, scientists and statesmen from India and the world. Each of the statues, created by the noted artist, Ram V. Sutar, is four meters in tall and weighs up to two tonnes.
“It is indeed a historic moment and an honor to be part of this ceremony on a day when we are entering the 150th birth anniversary year of Mahatma Gandhi. It was Gandhiji who gave us the biggest weapon of world peace and that was non-violence,” said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, speaking on the occasion. Observing that the hall and library had been aptly named after Saint Dnyaneshwar, Fadnavis said the poet-saint had always preached that people were not evil and advocated eradicating evil ideas instead.
The dome, said to be built without the design expertise of a professional architect, is the brainchild of Dr. Vishwanath Karad, founder-president of the MIT World Peace University. The rationale behind it is to symbolize the unity of the Indian identity through its religions, ideologies and literature, Dr. Karad said. The MIT-WPU has organised a four-day world parliament of science, religion and philosophy at this campus, which begins on Tuesday.