Gangtok, May 9: After the world's tallest statue of Guru Padmasambhava, Sikkim's unique experimentation in uniting tourism and religion is set to acquire another dimension as erection works began last week for a massive Lord Buddha statue and an eco-garden at Rabong in south Sikkim.
''This statue of Sangay Chomden Dey (Lord Buddha for Buddhists in Sikkim) in a sitting mudra will be of 125-foot from the base to the top. It is expected to be one of the biggest statues of Lord Buddha in the world,'' said Navin Pradhan from Pan Architecture, the consultant for the project.
The height of the Buddha statue will be 90-foot and the total height from top to base, including the throne, is expected to be 125-foot. The statue will be made of Nickel-aluminium bronze alloy with steel frame inside, said Mr Pradhan.
''We are also roping in metal experts from IIT, Kanpur, earthquakes and structural experts for the project,'' said Mr Pradhan.
The 'Shakyamuni' project also envisages two more statues (25 ft each) on both sides of the main Buddha statue and statues of five disciples in front in sitting posture, the consultant said.
The total cost of the project is estimated at Rs 30 crore and is expected to be completed by 2009.
Spanning across an area of 22.5 acres, the project will come up on the road to Ralang monastery some 1.5 km away from Rabong town and will have all the tourist amenities, said Mr Pradhan.
The project will have provisions for prayer halls, an interpretation hall, preaching hall, the main reception block, a viewing deck, restaurant, cafeterias, rooms for pilgrims and tourists with a reference library. The eco-garden will be set amidst the landscape where herbal and medicinal plants and rare species of plants will be planted and grown. A musical fountain will also be located in the midst of the garden.
The foundation stone for the Buddha statue was laid by Chief Minister Pawan Chamling on August 28 last year during the Pang Lhabsol festival held in Rabong that marked the 2550th birth anniversary of Lord Gautam Buddha.
Apart from being a landmark effort in integrating tourism and religion, the project is also aimed at drawing large number of pilgrims in the state. Sikkim has long played a part in the religious and Buddhist circuit due to the vast number of monasteries and holy sites located in the state.
The statue of Guru Padmasambhava, the patron saint of Sikkim is also located at Samdruptse near Namchi some 25 kilometres from Rabong.