The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion near Bendigo, will be 50 metres (164 feet) square at its base and nearly 50 metres high when it is completed. This will make it the largest stupa in the Western World and will be the same size and design as the Great Stupa of Gyantse in Tibet.
A stupa is a sacred monument in the Buddhist world and the word "Stupa" is a Sanskrit word meaning "to heap" or "to pile" and refers to the mound-like shape of the earliest stupas.
Currently rising 25 metres above Bendigo's bushland, it is a surprising sight surrounded by gum trees, gleaming white as it continues to slowly grow past the halfway mark. While work continues, there is already a lot to see at this project site and everyone is welcome to visit.
The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion is home to many holy objects. Amongst these will be the magnificent 2.7 metres high, 4 tonne Jade Buddha for Universal Peace, which is the largest Buddha carved from gem quality jade in the world. The jade is from Canada and the statue was carved in Thailand. The Jade Buddha has been on a world tour since 2009 and over 10 million people have seen it. When the tour is over, The Jade Buddha will come to its permanent home here.
On your visit to The Great Stupa you can see the large collection of relics and artwork as well as the large brass statue of Padmasambhava (an 8th-century Indian Buddhist master) that is inside The Great Stupa.
We visited on a Monday afternoon and a volunteer took us on a short guided tour. The tour commenced with a 10 minute DVD which talked about the building of The Great Stupa followed by a look inside the Stupa and around the gardens. Our guide was happy to answer our questions and then left us to have a walk around on our own. Tours are flexible and run daily upon visitors request. Allow between 1 - 1.5 hours. For groups of 10 people or more, they request you call ahead and book. The cost of the tours is by donation.