While the Centre on Wednesday averted a possible row over the proposed construction of a huge Ram temple in Bihar, saying in the Rajya Sabha that it would not be a replica of Angkor Wat, the temple promoters have termed misleading the statement to the effect that the project would be changed or abandoned. Mahavir Mandir Temple Trust secretary Kishore Kunal said on Thursday that it was never meant to be a replica of the Cambodian temple. But the Trust had not changed or abandoned the project.
Talking to The Hindu from Patna, he said: “The Trust never claimed that it would be an exact replica of the Angkor Wat temple. We mentioned that the temple would be larger than the Cambodian one. We had named the temple the Virat Angkor Wat Ram Mandir, but after we came to know that it would upset people in Cambodia, we changed it to Virat Ramayan temple.”
In March, following reports on the project, Cambodia conveyed its displeasure over attempts to replicate its iconic 12th century temple dedicated to Vishnu.
While claiming that the project was not a copy of the Angkor Wat temple, the Trust said there was no law prohibiting replication of an architectural monument. “A few years ago, when the Taj Mahal was reproduced in Bangladesh, India did not object,” Mr. Kunal pointed out.
However, a drawing of the proposed temple published by the Trust presents a striking similarity.
In a release on Thursday, the Trust said Angkor Wat has only nine shikharas or spires, while its temple would have 18. Though it had modelled the shikharas on the Cambodian temple, it had borrowed the gopuram, or entrance gate tower, and other features from south Indian temples. On June 20, the Trust said the 270-foot tall temple tower was inspired by the Angkor Wat, Madurai Meenakshi and Rameswaram temples.