The United States is the first-ever destination to get a Kotilinga Kshetram outside of India, as it is part of the $100-million development project undertaken by the India Cultural Center and Temple in Memphis. Expected to be completed by 2025, the project will expand the temple complex from the present 12 acres to 101 acres. A 13-level stainless steel pyramid representing the universe is the focal point of the $100m project at ICCT near Memphis, Tennessee.
The Kotilinga Kshetram will have a 15-feet gold-plated bronze statue of Maha Kameswara (Lord Shiva) and Maha Kameswari (Goddess Parvati) in sitting posture atop the pyramid (Srichakra) with a height of 108 feet. The 13 levels of the holy pyramid include 3 levels of square, three round levels, one level designed as a 16-petal lotus, one level shaped as a lotus with 8 petals, and five layers of triangle. The base of the pyramid is 416 feet in dimension. Reportedly, a glass elevator inside the pyramid will take visitors to the uppermost level.
All the 13 levels will have 10 million Bana Lingams of different sizes, which will collectively amplify the positive energy of the holy pyramid. Bana Lingams are naturally formed stones resembling Shiva lingams from the Narmada River in Omkareshwar, Madhya Pradesh where one of the 12 Jyotirlinga Shiva temples is located. The egg-like shape of Bana Lingams makes the sacred stones symbolic of the Cosmic Egg or Womb that the universe is believed to have originated from.
With 10 million Bana Lingams of various sizes, the pyramid or Srichakra will become a Kotilinga Kshetram steeped in cosmic energy and will fetch celestial blessings to not only North America, but the rest of the world. Having a rare mineral composition, Bana Lingams sourced from the Narmada River in India do emit positive vibrations. The Indian Cultural Center and Temple, Tennessee is inviting devotees to sponsor lingams. In one of the sponsorship schemes, you can donate $540 for 5 lingams or $1080 for 10 lingams.
Near the Kotilinga Kshetram will stand a 108-feet tall bronze statue of Saint Annamacharya, a 15th century poet and reformer in the erstwhile Vijayanagar Empire. He is believed to have composed 32,000 holy songs eulogizing Swami Venkateshwara of Tirumala. His spiritual songs high on musical quotient are still popular with Carnatic vocalists and musicians. Born in 1408, Saint Annamacharya is regarded as a pioneering luminary in the field of Telugu art and literature.
Adding to the aesthetic beauty of the Kotilinga Kshetram at ICCT Memphis will be a 900-foot lane as part of the $100m development project. The lane will connect the main temple with the statue of Saint Annamacharya. The most interesting thing about this upcoming development is that meticulously sculpted statues of prominent figures from the fields of music and spirituality will dot the 900-foot lane.
Another focal point of the project is the existing community center that will double up as a cultural center with a 2000-seat auditorium. Building a banquet hall and a performing arts center for religious as well as community events is also on the agenda. A museum of Hinduism that has also been planned will be the first of its kind in North America. The community cum cultural center will integrate a yoga studio for all age-groups. The ICCT Tennessee authorities have also identified and focused on the need of developing interactive classrooms where Indian scriptures, mythology, Vedic literature and ancient heritage can be taught and studied in devotion.
The India Cultural Center and Temple plans to have a commercial kitchen just like the one at Ganesh Temple in Queens, NYC where delicious vegetarian meals are available at economical prices. Currently, community volunteers cook meals for Annadanam every Saturday noon and on special occasions at the Memphis temple kitchen. Since January 2003, the Saturday Annadanam program has been a ritual at ICCT, Tennessee, with its objective rooted in the faith that giving food to humans is a supreme act of serving humanity as food is a basic elixir of existence.
Built and consecrated in 1994, ICCT Memphis is a micro piece of the imperial Chola architecture that thrived across South India between the 9th and the 13th century. With Sri Venkateshwara Swami being the presiding deity accompanied by his consorts – Sridevi and Bhudevi, ICCT strives to become the “Tirumala of North America”. Sri Rama, Radha Krishna, Shiva, Ayyappa Swami, Nataraja, Ganesh, Hanuman, and Kala Bhairav are the other deities in the temple. The archway at the main entrance of the sprawling temple campus is as grand as the doorway to Heaven. Another attraction is the open-air gallery of sculptures representing the Dasavatar incarnations of Lord Vishnu and landscaping the path between the main temple and the meditation hall.
This article is part of the series – Hidden Gems of America for the Indian Community – by Indian Eagle, a most trusted travel-booking partner of Indians in the US. Travel Beats, a subsidiary of Indian Eagle, is a one-stop portal for US-India aviation news, Indian Diaspora stories, and US visa and immigration updates. Subscribe to Travel Beats for more such stories.
Tennessee’s neighboring state of North Carolina is home to Somesvara Temple atop Mount Soma, a hilly abode of Lord Shiva, thousands of miles away from the Himalayas.