New York : An American architect who has lived in India for over 30 years wants to build a Indian Vedic Center similar to one being constructed more than 100 km from Kolkata.
Alfred J. Valerio wants to start work in December on an ambitious $40-million project, which he described as "a little smaller than the Vatican", in the Southern Tier area of New York State.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or ISKCON, is building the temple of the Vedic Planetarium on the banks of the Ganges near Navadvip, north of Kolkata. Once completed, the 35-storey complex will be one of the largest religious buildings. The project was made possible by a $40-million contribution by Alfred Ford, great grandson of Henry Ford and heir to the Ford Motors legacy.
Now Valerio, 67, is seeking space and support for a similar cultural project in New York to spread Indian Vedic philosophy.
"I want to do a duplicate here," Valerio said. "It will be one of the biggest art projects in history. It would be a cultural, healing, educational and artistic centre."
The entire project would require 400-500 acres of land, which Valerio hopes to persuade New York State to donate, stargazettenews.com reported.
As Valerio envisions the project, it would contain a museum, a dairy farm, an art museum and a housing development for retirees. It would underwrite scholarships, provide support for representational art, serve free vegetarian meals and offer free education.
"It has to be near a river and have water in the northeast corner running west to east," he said.
The centre would have gardens, greenhouses and an indoor swimming pool too.
"If I can get a commitment for state land, I'll do a whole business plan on it," Valerio said. "It would employ a lot of people, and it would be one of the biggest tourist attractions in New York State."
Why an Indian cultural centre in an area that has a small Indian population compared with some major cities?
"I'd like to have it in a place where you would not expect it," Valerio said.
"India has the greatest culture the world knows," he said. "This would show the Vedic understanding of all aspects of life and spread the Vedic philosophy."