NOVEMBER 23 , 2015 : INAUGURATION OF TORANA GATE, LITTLE INDIA, BRICKFIELDS IN KUALA LUMPUR
NOVEMBER 23 , 2015
INAUGURATION OF TORANA GATE, LITTLE INDIA, BRICKFIELDS IN KUALA LUMPUR
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India His Excellency Shri Narendra Modi visited Malaysia between 21-23 November, 2015, for an official bilateral visit, as well as to attend the India – ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit. The highlight of the visit was the joint inauguration of the Torana Gate in Little India, Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Malaysia H.E. Dato Sri Najib bin Tun Razak and the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi on 23 November, 2015.
The Prime Ministers of India and Malaysia hailed the Torana Gate as a symbol of India-Malaysia friendship and a high-point of the historical and cultural relationship between the two countries.
At the inaugural, the Hon’ble Prime Minister of Malaysia observed that the Torana Gate will become a new landmark in Kuala Lumpur and marks another high point in the long-standing history of good relations between Malaysia and India.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister of India mentioned that the Torana Gate is not merely a piece of art carved out of stone but it also connects two great nations and two great cultures. He recalled the message of Peace of Lord Buddha, which spread across Asia over the centuries.
The Torana Gate in Little India is a gift from the Government of India to Malaysia.
Torana is an elaborate gateway, usually in Buddhist, Hindu and Jain traditions, defining the entrance to a shrine, stupa or temple. Such gateways are one of the remarkable specimens of Indian art and architecture. The Torana Gate in Kuala Lumpur has been designed on the model and proportions of the Torana Gates at the Great Sanchi Stupa.
The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India commissioned by Emperor Ashoka in 3rd Century B.C. Four monumental elaborately carved Torana Gates dating back to First Century B.C. encircle the Stupa structure. Each gateway, having extensive carvings, is in the form of three curviformed architraves springing between two columns and cantilevered outward with decorative spiraling ends. The subject-matter of the carvings on the gateways may be broadly classified as scenes from the Buddhism as well as other scenes and decorations. These monuments are UNESCO Heritage sites.
While generally Torana Gates are single plane structures, the design of the Torana Gate in Kuala Lumpur merges two Torana Gates with a patterned ceiling comprising carved stone panels, thereby creating a pavilion. The total height, from ground up to the Chakra on top, is 10.4 meters and width at its maximum point is 7.3 meters. Each facet of the Gate has been adorned with decorative motifs and carvings, in buff-coloures sandstone panels from India. The artwork has been sensitively designed to convey rhythm, symmetry & decorative beauty, while remaining a timeless reminder of Indian craftsmanship.
RELIEFS ON TORANA GATE
The carvings at the Torana Gates around the Great Stupa of Sanchi depict the Jatakas of Gautama Buddha. Jatakas are stories of the previous birth of Gautam Buddha, who is believed to have past innumerable existences, in both human and animal forms, persistently qualifying himself for Buddha-hood.
The setting of the stories richly reflects the life in the towns and villages. The reliefs are the most important visual record of the architecture and lifestyles of that period. The Buddha is represented by symbols.
The reliefs on the Torana Gate at Little India, Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur, though broadly derived from the carvings at the Torana Gates of Sanchi, are yet different and intended to portray Indian art in a contemporary manner, adapted to suit the locational context.
The Wheel represents the first teaching of the Buddhist Dharma, the Bodhi Tree represents Enlightenment, while Footprints proclaim the presence of the Enlightened One.
Water is represented in various forms in the artwork. While one design reflects water ripples, in the vertical panel, effect of water is subtly represented by the presence of ducks. At the bottom, an elephant is seen with a lotus stem in its mouth, which is richly adorned with a lush variety of flowers.
Tri-ratna or the Three Jewels used in the Buddhist Torana depict three things that Buddhists look towards for guidance and take refuge in
The Dharma Chakra represents Gautama Buddha’s teachings for the path to Nirvana since the time of early Buddhism. It is one of the oldest known Buddhist symbols found in Indian art, from the time of the King Ashoka. The Buddha is said to have set the Dharma Chakra in motion when he delivered his first sermon. Buddhism adopted the Wheel symbolizing the ability to cut through all obstacles and illusions.
Gautam Buddha is represented in this panel in the form of Stupa. Animals depicted are sitting in harmony with each other and paying obedience to Lord Buddha.
Gautam Buddha is represented in this panel in the form of Bodhi Tree. The artwork for this panel is broadly derived from the Chhaddanta Jataka tale.
This panel represents the teachings of Gautam Buddha through the Dharma Chakra, which is said to have been set in motion when he delivered his first sermon. The panel also represents abundance and prosperity through elaborate floral motifs.
The figures of birds such as peacocks have been used along with varieties of floral motifs to create an impression of continuous stream of life. The spiral at the ends of beams signify the unfolding of parchment scroll with scenes of life.
A large number of decorative elements have been used on the columns and architraves that include carved panels as well as sculpted blocks.
The Torana Gate structure has been designed with two distinct elevational profiles. However, both are symmetrical to their respective axis and clad with intricate carved stone panels. The three curviformed architraves are connected with carved uprights and is enriched with sculptures such as elephants, floral brackets, Tri-ratna and Chakra.
The gateway structure is transparent in both the directions. Although the two elevations are in contrast to each other, they are harmonious and unified through the use of carved stones.
The curvilinear ceiling of the Torana Gate structure has been designed with ribs running in both the directions. These structural ribs, creating 24 coffers, are supporting carved stone panels, which are square in shape and have intricate floral carvings.
The paved area around the Torana Gate, up to the piazza around existing fountain, consists of flame-finished granite stone panels, patterned with bands of polished granite stone. The pedestrian spine along the central axis is designed with a variety of geometrical motifs in varied shades of granites.
The Torana Gate has been visualized to act as a symbolic gateway and a focal element along the axis of the main road leading to Little India, Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur. The Torana Gate relates with the surrounding roads as well as the pedestrian movement and conceived as a graceful structure, set amongst the landscaped piazza in an urban context.
M/S Akshaya Jain & Associates, provide consultancy services in the field of architecture, urban design, planning, interior design and construction management. The Partners of the Firm have ample experience in planning and design of various types of projects in India and abroad.
Akshaya Kumar Jain has 41 years of professional experience, and established his erstwhile partnership firm in 1986. Two of his projects have also been awarded with Excellence in Architecture by the Indian Institute of Architects.
Kshitij Jain, with 15 years of professional experience, has been involved with a vast range of projects, in India and abroad. Projects handled by him have garnered international recognition.
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The Global Estate Management Division (Projects), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India and the High Commission of India in Malaysia were involved in the construction of Torana Gate from the Indian side.
On the Malaysian side, the following Ministries/agencies of Malaysia were actively involved:
(i) Ministry of Federal Territories, Government of Malaysia
(ii) Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)
(iii) M/s Veritas Architects Sdn Bhd., the Malaysian Consultant
(iv) MRCB Engineering Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian Contractor