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The family from Palitana town in Gujarat has built numerous grand temples around the country and elsewhere, including the grand Somnath Temple that was opened in 1951, the Akshardham temples, and the Krishna Janmasthan in Mathura. The Ram Temple in Ayodhya, whose ‘bhoomi pujan’ was performed by PrimRead more
The family from Palitana town in Gujarat has built numerous grand temples around the country and elsewhere, including the grand Somnath Temple that was opened in 1951, the Akshardham temples, and the Krishna Janmasthan in Mathura.
The Ram Temple in Ayodhya, whose ‘bhoomi pujan’ was performed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday (August 5) is being built by the Sompura family of temple architects, led by the patriarch Chandrakant Sompura who first visited the site where the Babri Masjid once stood more than 30 years ago.
From Somnath to Ayodhya, a family of temple builders
Chandrakant Sompura, 77, had started work on the temple to Ram Lalla in Ayodhya 30 years ago, after he first visited the site with then Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) president Ashok Singhal. Industrialist Ghanshyamdas Birla asked him if he would take up the Ram Mandir project, and introduced him to Singhal. Sompura had worked on several of the Birla temples then.
Sompura has decided not to go to the site because of his age and the coronavirus pandemic. But his son, Ashish, 49, who has made the site plan of the Ram Janmabhoomi temple, is in Ayodhya to work out the details with Larsen & Toubro, the company that has been awarded the contract to build the temple.
The art of temple building came to Ashish largely from his father and great grandfather Prabhashankar, who built the Somnath Temple in Prabhas Patan on the Gujarat coast inaugurated by the first President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad, in 1951. Prabhashankar, who was later honoured with the Padma Shri, lost his son, Balwantrai, who was then 51, in an accident while Balwantrai was returning from a renovation project of the Badrinath temple.
But for the family, the Somnath temple is the closest to their heart. The Sompuras believe that their ancestors were taught the art of temple building by the divine architect Vishwakarma himself. The Sompuras, who come from Palitana town of Bhavnagar, consider themselves to be ‘residents of the moon’ (Som = moon and pura= city).
The last time Sompura himself went to Ayodhya was around five years back. His sons Nikhil, 55, and Ashish have taken over the execution of the project, and Ashutosh, 28, the civil engineer son of Nikhil, has joined them after training for two years in temple architecture through site visits and home schooling.
Among Ashish’s projects has been the private temple in the Ambani home at Antilla in Mumbai. The family has built the Akshardham temples in the country, as well as the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purshottam Swaminarayan (BAPS) Sanstha temple in Neasden, United Kingdom.