April - July 2002, Houston,
His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj
performed the Shilanyas Vidhi (Foundation-Stone Laying Ceremony)
of the new traditional Shree Swaminarayan Mandir in Houston on September
3, 2000. Since then, the devotees of BAPS Southwest region have
come together to fulfill the vision of their guru by planning the
construction of the mandir. To mark the beginning of construction
of this wonderful splendor in stone and marble, approximately 700
devotees preformed a mahapuja on March 3, 2002 in the presence of
pujya santo. At the conclusion of the mahapuja the santo along with
Harikrishna Maharaj and the devotees went to the site of the new
Mandir and performed pujan of the construction equipment. The commissioner
of Fort Bend County Mr. Grady Prestage, members of the Engineering
and Construction team and friends and well wishers of BAPS were
also present on this auspicious occasion.
First pour of a 3-foot thickness
in the Grabhgruh area was completed on June 18, 2002. Total concrete
poured was 600 cu.yds.
Second pour of 1-foot thickness in
the Garbhgruh area was completed on June 25, 2002. Total concrete
poured was 200 cu.yds.
Third pour of 1-foot thickness around
the Grabhgruh area was completed on July 2, 2002. Total concrete
poured was 400 cu.yds.
Fourth pour of 3-foot thickness for
entire temple area was completed on July 13, 2002. Total concrete
poured was 1600 cu.yds.
One of the unique features of the foundation and the Mandir as a
whole is that no steel or metal will be used in any part of its
structure. This unique feature along with a special concrete mix
for the foundation and use of marble and stone for the Mandir will
help extend the life span of the Mandir to over 1000 years. The
excavation and preparatory work for this historic project commenced
on March 25, 2002. After a number of soil tests the engineering
and construction team decided to excavate the soil in and around
the foundation area and replace it with special soil. After extensive
tests, Dr. P.K. Mehta, a material expert and authority in the area
of the foundation mix design along with Dr. Shondeep Sarkar of Sarkar
& Associates, Maverick Engineering and the BAPS Development team
worked closely together for several months to develop an optimized
special concrete mix for the foundation.
On May 9, 2002, work on the piers started and it was completed on
the June 20, 2002. A total of 244 piers will support the foundation
raft. The piers are 30 ft. deep with diameters ranging from 30 inches
to 54 inches. The foundation raft is 6 feet. thick in the Grabhgruh
(Main Shrine) area and 5 feet thick in the rest of the temple area.
The concrete pour for the foundation is divided into seven phases
and currently phase 4 has been completed. Foundation work is scheduled
to be completed by the end of August 2002 and when completed the
total elevation of the foundation will be 11 ft. Special care has
been taken to remove even the smallest metal part like nails from
the Mandir area using magnets. Quality control of the concrete mix
by taking samples for lab tests has been performed at every phase
of the foundation work.