A stupa (also known as a pagoda) is the most sacred building in Buddhism. A stupa symbolises the enlightened mind and the path to enlightenment. A stupa is also a reliquary to house holy relics of the Buddha and other highly realised beings.
The idea to build a Great Stupa on the property in Bendigo was the vision of Lama Thubten Yeshe. The idea to base the design of the stupa on the Great Stupa of Gyantse, was the vision of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa were the founders of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition.
The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, being built near Bendigo Australia, is 50 metres square at its base and nearly 50 metres high. This makes it the largest stupa in the Western World.
The Great Stupa is the same design and size as the Gyantse Stupa (Kumbum) in Tibet. The Gyantse Stupa is one of the treasures of the Buddhist world. Professor David L. Snellgrove has said: “The Stupa of Gyantse may well be accounted the chief wonder of the Tibetan Buddhist world in that it records iconographically in its interior practically the whole pantheon of Indo-Tibetan religion up to the time of its construction during the first half of the 15th century.”
The Gompa (temple) inside the Stupa will have many features of traditional large Tibetan gompas including large statues of Buddhas and deities. The Gompa will be used for pujas, meditation and teachings. It is also designed to present an overview of Buddhism to visitors.
Beautiful gardens surround the Stupa and the Peace Park showcases symbols from many faiths including Catholic, Sikh, Islam, Hindu and Buddhist.
Construction of The Great Stupa is estimated to cost around $20 million – not including the cost of artwork. These funds are being raised through donations on an international basis. The Victorian Government has also contributed $2.5 million in regional development funds. Construction is taking place on a progressive basis as funds become available.