Nagpur, Maharashtra, India
The Nagaloka institute is located in the metropolis of Nagpur in central India. This institute is a center for training in social work focused on the upliftment of disadvantaged communities. Here in Nagpur, in 1956 Dr. Ambedkar converted to Buddhism leading millions of his followers into a casteless religion where they seek equality, upliftment and inspiration. Millions of erstwhile untouchables followed him, making Nagaloka a sacred precinct for searching enlightenment and equality. It is a place of the Buddha and a training center.
Dharmachari Lokamitra founded this institution, guided by the inspiration of Dr. Ambedkar, and by his guru, Sangharakshita. Accordingly, the Trilokya Bauddha Maha Shayak Gana trust was created to impart development skills, social work techniques and project implementation training, which are visualized as paths toward enlightenment. The activities of the trust take place through discourse, teaching, social work in slums and villages, motivated introspection, constructive debate, guided questioning and free floating thought. There are several hundred students from across the subcontinent and abroad. Thousands of pilgrims visit the site daily during religious festivals.
The campus includes an entrance gate, public sanitary facilities, an administration building, the large Dhamma Hall for discourses and lectures, a library, classrooms, a meditation pavilion or Vihara, a catering center, guest houses, dormitories for men and women and dharmashalas accommodating visitors. The central focus is a statue of the Buddha aligned on a long promenade from the entry. A statue of Dr. Ambedkar commemorates his role in leading many followers to spiritual enlightenment and social upliftment.
Situated in the outskirts of Nagpur, the campus configuration is influenced by the Deer Park at Sarnath, where the Buddha gave his Sermon of the Turning of the Wheel outlining the Fivefold Path. All of the structures are constructed of exposed brick, brick vaults, long span concrete shells and Kota stone flooring.
The Dhamma Hall is the main public meeting space where the Buddhist triad of Buddha, dhamma and sangha are brought together. The hall is used for discourses, meditation and public gatherings. Hollow exposed brick bearing walls enclose three sides of the hall. Folding wooden doors open onto the large entrance pavilion, which is also sheltered by a twenty-meter long structural shell. Within the hall five twenty meters long structural shells, each four meters wide, form a large, column free interior space. The Dhamma Hall is framed on either end by two large shells, set perpendicularly to it; the front entrance pavilion and the rear ambulatory for the statue of Buddha.
There is a separate meditation hall, or a Vihara, for practitioners to contemplate. Vihara, in Sanskrit, relates to wandering about contemplating, or visiting a reclusive grove of trees, or a garden. In short it is a place for retreat and isolation. Originally the Buddhist monks wandered about India, and beyond, to propagate the Law of the Wheel, or Dhamma, settling in retreats during the monsoons.
The meditation pavilion is, thus, completely surrounded by a secluding wall, forming an interior court. There is a vestibule, or entrance structure, and there is a shrine area. Moving in a circular pattern while entering, one looses their sense of direction. The need for orientation is replaced suddenly by the Buddha image alignment from the portal of the pavilion. One Vihara employs a square enclosure and the second, in a nearby women’s hostel, employs a circular wall and a circular ceiling that is embossed with the Dharma Wheel, reflecting Buddha’s Sermon of the Turning of the Wheel. This is also reflected in the circular floor of the space. In both of these Viharas, gardens around the edges are open to the sky providing ample ventilation, natural light and a green ambiance.
A note – vihara is usually understood in Buddhism to mean “abode” and specifically the abode of the Buddha.
LocationNagpur, Maharashtra, India
Built Up Area9,900 Square Meters
Site Area15 Acres
Khare and Tarkunde Constructions
Golden Light Constructions
Structural Design : Sharad Shah, Mumbai
Satish Marathe Consulting Engineers, Pune
Skyline Consulting Engineers
Landscape Design : CCBA Designs, Pune
MEP Design : EMEA, Pune
Interior Design : CCBA Designs, Pune
Ramprasad Akkisetti and Deepak Kaw
Prof. Christopher Benninger, Madhav Joshi, Rahul Sathe, Debashish Mitra, Smita Rawoot, Khushru Irani, Jayita Sahni, Shivaji Karekar, Jagadeesh Taluri and Bhavin Patel