Enchanting Vrindavan is best known to most as a town that served as the holy playground of Lord Krishna’s childhood in times of the hoary past. In modern times it is a famous pilgrimage site not merely for Hindus but for people from all over the world. With its profusion of temples and shrines that deify the beloved Lord Krishna, Vrindavan has a lot to offer. Millions make a beeline to this town to experience the divinity of the sublime first-hand, that transcends space and time, enveloping all in its presence and making the soul dance leaving the mind unburdened. It is here in this sacred-hued north-Indian town of Vrindavan that a grand Heritage Tower and a Krishna Leela Theme Park aspire to come up. An NRI Achievers’ report:
The Vrindavan Heritage Tower seeks to harmoniously meld modern architectural styles with the ancient Indian Nagara architectural thinking to create a towering 700 foot high edifice that strives to be both urban in its flair and yet aspire to be an epitome of divine culture in its effervescence. The project seeks to portray the picturesque and mesmerizing Leelas of Lord Krsna by recreating them via virtual reality using state-of-the-art technology in an attempt to cater to the pilgrim’s penchant for ‘recreational tourism.’
Comprising of both an indoor as well as an outdoor Krsna Leela Theme Park, the structure promises a variety of wonderful attractions. The theme park with it’s climate-controlled environment, spans a collosal width of 9 acres and will play host to a number of family-oriented activities. Attractions will include four dark-ride walkthrough attractions, Sky View Galleries at heights of 140 metres (460 feet) and 175 metres (574 feet), a Kids Zone, an indoor boating experience, live shows, indoor float parades, food-courts and fine-dining restaurants, souvenir-, memorabilia- and gift stalls all celebrating the treasure of cultural heritage that is unique to Braj.
The outdoor edifice is a forest theme family park that features Braj Forest Cruise, Braj Forest Night Safari, a monorail experience, an outdoor boating experience replete with outdoor float parades, a grand musical fountain and an architectural light and projection show – the Grand Finale.
Music and dancing has always been central to the Krishna Leelas and paying proper attention to the fact, the project also features Cultural Heritage Tourism. This is composed of educative yet entertaining attractions, aptly called ‘Edutainment’ attractions for school and college students, Indophiles and special interest tourists. It includes the Center for Promotion of Indian Performing Arts, the Braj Art Gallery which will showcase ancient to contemporary Braj visual arts, the Braj Architectural Gallery to showcasing ancient and recent architectural expressions of the region and the Anchorage – the Hall of Values.
‘Educational Tourism’ is yet another feature that explores the wisdom of the holy literature that is the Bhagvad Gita, through an exclusive Bhagvad Gita Museum and a Bhagvad Gita Academy that will serve as a centre for advanced studies, the Centre for Braj Heritage Studies and the Institute for Values and Ethics.
As a contribution to ‘Spiritual Tourism’ stand the Hall of Devotion, the Vrindavan Chandrodaya Mandir and the the Srila Prabhupada Memorial. MICE Tourism stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events, catering to corporate as well as personal and family events. This flavour of tourism is directed at large groups and is expected to be booked in advance. The Heritage Tower promises premium facilities and services for a pleasant experience and conduction of MICE events. Other than corporate events, MICE events will also extend to destination weddings, food festivals, special events on public holidays et al.
‘Retirement Tourism’ focuses on providing retirement or assisted living homes for elders to enjoy the venerable life they deserve in the playground of the joyous Lord. ‘Social Infrastructure Projects’ consist of many schemes offering benefits to those visiting or residing in the Braj. It is inclusive of the ‘Visitor Feeding Facility’, ‘the Widow Feeding Facility’, a ‘Multi Level Car Parking facility’ that is set to become India’s largest such facility to ensure a smooth experience avoiding congestion,the ‘Braj Heritage Restoration’ – aimed at the restoration of environmental resources and historical assets of the Braj region, tghe ‘Young India Talent School’ – a free school for children from underprivileged families of the region, a ‘Skill Development’ facility to train locals in the various skills relevant to Braj region tourism requirements. The ‘Akshaya Patra’ centralised kitchen facility is aimed at providing midday meals to children from 2010 schools of the Mathura district, and low cost affordable housing.
In addition to the myriad bouquet of educational and entertainment features, the project is a LEED Gold certified project, which tghrough various kinds of tourism initiatoives aims to meet the sustainable development of the Braj region. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a green-building rating system. LEED certified buildings are resource efficient, judicially using water and energy – on the one hand environment friendly and on the other saving money.
The project is helmed by Sri Madhu Pandit Dasa, a Padmashri awardee and a truly unique person. Serving as the Chairman of the Vrindavan Heritage Tower, the President of ISKCON Bangalore, as the Chairman of the Akshaya Patra Foundation and as Chief Functionary of the India Heritage Foundation, he is a multi-faceted personality dedicated to working for the good and well-being of people in society.
An alumni of IIT Bombay – he had graduated with a B.Tech in Civil Engineering – his quest for the absolute truth took him to serving the mission of his Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, where he tirelessly and selflessy worked for almost three decades. The Akshaya Patra programme for one is his brainchild, a programme that serves midday meals to children from 2010 schools of the Mathura district – a monumental step towards improving education through incentives. A nutritious meal can dramatically enhance productivity of the pupil, by improving learning capacity. In 1994 he had started an integrated social development project, the beneficiaries of which are the rural people of Mysore and Mandya districts.
Madhu Pandit Dasa’s vision is to project the rich and enchanting cultural heritage of our motherland through dramatization of the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata – akin to world class presentation platforms of the likes of Disneyland, using 3D animation and theme parks. ‘Little Krishna,’ a 13-episode animated series exploring the childhood of Lord Krishna, was the India Heritage Foundation’s first project. The series has since been recognized internationally and went on to win numerous national and international awards.
Madhu Pandit Dasa’s current focus is on setting up an Indian Heritage and Culture Tourism Park. A complete visionary rooted in the cultural riches of his motherland Madhu Pandit Dasa has given his spiritual and cultural aspirations perfect shape by applying his knowledge of civil engineering as well as his expertise. He wishes to teach the youth Vedic values that are an omnipotent feature of Indian culture, however diverse and modern it may grow. He envisaged a holistic development of the young, utilising Vedic philosophies and preaching. He believes that corruption, crime and inequality, which are the banes of our society, cannot be curbed and kept under control simply through strict legislation or stringent laws. These are the evils of our contemporary society and these take root and reside in the heart of the individual. To eradicate these vices from taking over society, one’s heart and mind need to be transformed into a higher, purer space, and all other attempts to kill these vices are only external as they address the symptoms but not the roots of the problem. His understanding of society is manifest as a holistic whole, a meeting of the heart and the mind, thriving on the pillars of ethics, values, spirituality and culture. Thus, the Vrindavan Heritage Tower project aims at a kind of spiritual as well as social awakening, a hub of recreation as well as creativity, family entertainment as well as individual development. It aims to nurture talent as well as instil morals and values. He believes that India has a lot to offer to the world with its character built on ancient wisdom and contemporary knowledge, technological advancement and spiritual and social activism. He wants Indians to be Global leaders, and the centre aspires to provide the needed momentum and impetus for facilitating this transformation. In his own words, “the Vrindavan Heritage Tower aspires to restore the pride of every Indian. We want to spiritualise people’s consciousness when they come to this place, giving them an experience of the touch of the supreme spirit.”
Lending him strength in this endeavor stands his team-mate the equally brilliant President of the foundation, Sri Chanchalapathi Dasa, President of the Vrindavan Heritage Tower, Vice Chairman and Trustee of The Akshaya Patra Foundation, Senior Vice President of ISKCON Bangalore and Governing Body Member of GBC Society of the Hare Krishna Movement. Working in the field of spiritual education since 1984, Sri Chanchalapathi Dasa started working in social development in 2000, and has been working in these two fields since. As an undergraduate student with the PSG College of Technology at Coimbatore and originally inclined towards the sciences, he took a fascination to spirituality. Deeply impressed and moved by the teachings of ancient scriptures his pursuit of spirituality acquired an even more vigourous tone while doing his master’s programme in Electronics & Communications engineering at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. He joined ISCKON in 1984 and became involved with the Akshaya Patra Foundation in 2000. Combining his passion for science, his compassion and his love for Indian Spirituality, he has dedicated his life to Social and Spiritual Development of society. He continues to research, teach and talk extensively on spirituality, social development and the intersection of science and spirituality.
The Project as a whole concentrates on imparting moral values to the society through the creation of a spiritual, scientific and fun centre, catering to individuals, researchers, families, corporate groups, large groups, wedding parties, schools, colleges and many more. The project will not only boost tourism which has been only of the religious type till now, expanding its dynamic towards a group of vast and varied interests of individuals. With state of the art amenities and global standard facilities it aims to attract a diverse group of people to the Braj, which will ultimately contribute to its social as well as economic development. More importantly the project aims to meet the goals of sustainable development and is energy efficient as is evident from it being a LEED Gold Certified project. The multifaceted project will accelerate not only economic growth but will transform the Heritage site that is Braj, keeping its values intact and putting it more prominently on the global map by the use of advanced technology and science.
The vision behind the project is what makes it so immense. The spiritual awakening of the youth and the nurturing of their talents and hopes in a realm so modern in its artifice and so cultural in its spirit is a salute to the motherland. The creation of this centre where human beings from all walks of life, from any corner of the world and across all ages can reside and interact is truly a testament to the diversity of India, its heritage, its cultural values, its ancient scriptures and its values. A place where God exists with science and humans coexist peacefully is great service to the society apart from the revenue that it will generate in terms of profits increasing the value of land as well as leading to social growth and an all-round transformation. The Vrindavan Heritage Tower will ensure that the youth has in their hearts and their brains the values of our ancient culture, the importance of the arts as well as science and also that of sustainability. The centre that caters to a plethora of interests could entirely change the face of tourism in India and make it Braj the number one tourist destination nationally as well as internationally.