MAHAVIHARA

Pune, Maharashtra, India

In 1953 an active leader of India’s vast untouchable castes, converted to Buddhism, followed by millions of his followers, seeking a new life bereft of the stigma of impurity. The Mahavihara, a Buddhist temple, is the headquarters of a trust, formed by erstwhile untouchables, inspired by Dr. Ambedkar and his students Sangharakshita and Dharmachari Lokamitra to lift themselves from untouchability and economic depression. The trust executes social work amongst poor communities in areas of health, education and women’s empowerment. An unobtrusive building, suited to its humble industrial neighborhood was built to promote these purposes on the banks of river Ramnadi.

From the entry portal, one’s line of sight connects down a long vaulted promenade to the Buddha image. On one side of the promenade is a retreat for personal study; meditation and community life, while on the other side are office areas, library, classrooms and meeting facilities. Cultural programs and meetings take place in the amphitheater steping down to the river.

The ground floor is left open for large-scale cultural activities, offering a view of the river curving its way around three edges of the campus. A large stone bund protects this center of social work and Buddhist studies from the river in its seasonal rages. The entire functional areas are raised up to the first and second levels that are covered with concrete vaults.

The fabric of the building is one of concrete columns supporting concrete vaults, spanning five meters, and covered with broken China mosaic tiles on the roof for water proofing and reflecting the hot sun. The vaults, beams and columns build up a language out of which, a highly directed and focused statement emerges. The vaults reflect the stone carved vaulted ceilings of nearby ancient cave viharas, giving Buddhist significance to the simple structures.

LocationPune, Maharashtra, India

Built Up Area1,200 Square Meters

Site Area2.25 Acres

Completion1989

Client

TBMSG, Pune

 

 

Prime Contractor

Services

Landscape Design : CCBA Designs, Pune

Interior Design : CCBA Designs, Pune

 

Photos

Ramprasad Akkisetti and Deepak Kaw

Design Team

Prof. Christopher Benninger and Madhav Joshi

Awards