A Hindu temple based in Tividale that is the biggest in Europe has revealed a major expansion plan to construct a new building for processions and festivities.
Ambitious proposals for the 21-acre Balaji Temple complex in Tividale have been submitted to Sandwell Council.
These set out a scheme to construct a 15-metre tall building, which would house a festival chariot, and build a processional route around the site in Dudley Road East.
The temple has already grown in the past 15 years to become ‘the largest Hindu temple of its kind in Europe’, according to the planning application.
Temple trustee Dr Venkataramana Rao said the scheme would ensure the temple was better equipped to host some of the key Hindu festivals.
Dr Rao told the Express & Star: “The new building will help with the festivals.
“At the moment we can’t keep the chariot anywhere outside because it’s made of wood – that’s why we need to build this new building.
“It’s part and parcel of the Hindu community.
“All the temples in India and also those in London have chariots and places to keep them.
“It is an important part of the worship of Hindu gods, that’s why we have a chariot and need this new building.
“At the moment the route around the temple won’t hold the weight of the chariot.
“We need to make changes to the processional route.
“The chariots are normally pulled by 20 or 30 devotees at one time so the route needs to be covered in Tarmac.”
Dr Rao said the chariots are created for every festival in the Hindu calendar and at present the temple lacks a place to store them.
Currently this is not in a fit state to bear the weight of the chariot and the people carrying it.
If the work gets the go-ahead it will reaffirm the temple’s status as one of the most highly regarded in Europe.
The chariot house will be a key landmark for the temple site, acting as the start and finish of the processional route, according to the plans.
The application states: “The Chariot House is a storage building for the chariot used during the Ratha-Yatra festival.
“The design of the Chariot building has been developed to be in keeping with the surrounding buildings in the complex.
“To accommodate a large chariot, the internal floor area is 30 sq m and height of the building reaches 14.9m.
“11m tall roller shutters have been incorporated into the design for easy movement of the chariot in and out of the building.
“Pulling the chariot through the processional route is the main event of the festival.
“The route will start and finish at the proposed Chariot House.
“The route goes through the existing driveway at the complex and along the southern boundary towards the canal.
“It follows up north along the canal and then crosses across the northern part of the site to connect on to the existing driveway.”
Council planners will rule on the application in due course.