[Archive] The Dhamma-Talaka Peace Pagoda, Birmingham

Please note this page is here for archival purposes only (dating to 1997-8) - for current information on the pagoda, please go to the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara web site.

Now officially open !

Click here for the latest news (Spring '98 Newsletter), including the programme of events that took place for the official opening.

Venerable Dr. Rewata Dhamma

The Venerable Dr. Rewata Dhamma is a senior Burmese Buddhist Monk who is the prime mover behind the building of the Peace Pagoda and the new Buddhist Centre. He was trained and ordained in Burma and India and has been living in Birmingham since 1975. He teaches Buddhism, Meditation and Buddhist Psychology of the Abhidhamma all over Europe and America and is a regular participant in International Symposiums and Inter-faiths Councils. Since 1979 he has been actively engaged in the pursuance of peace in the world. A scholar, meditation master, peace advocate and author he has written several books in Hindi, Pali and English.

Dhamma-Talaka Peace Pagoda

Front view of Pagoda

The Pagoda is an oriental style of sacred tower. In Buddhism, it is called a cedi (caitya or stupa in Sanskrit). The Pagoda symbolises peace, compassion and the noble exemplary qualities of the Buddha. It is the earthly manifestation of the mind of the Buddha and, as such, stands as the prime symbol of Buddhism for all Buddhist traditions. Birmingham is becoming an international city, rich with a multitude of religions, races and cultures. Apart from a variety of churches, there are now beautiful mosques, Hindu Temples and Sikh gurdwaras in the city. However, there is no Buddhist site of architectural beauty yet. This is one reason for looking forward to building the Pagoda. This will add to the city's growing cultural merit and interest to tourists from all over the world.

The Birmingham Buddhist Vihara (a registered charity) was founded in 1978 by the Venerable Dr. Rewata Dhamma and its activities have been increasing over the years. As well as holding a variety of retreats and our own course on the basics of Buddhism, we have become the focus for a large number of visitors from educational and other institutions. We need enlarged premises and would also like to offer facilities to the large number of Buddhist groups of various traditions in our area who do not have enough space or resources. In order to provide these we applied to the City Council and were granted a piece of land near the Edgbaston Reservoir on which to develop a peace pagoda, residential quarters, and a Dhamma and ordination hall. This project has captured their interest and our progress is followed by them with some enthusiasm. The land was consecrated in 1990 at a ceremony in which Buddhists from several traditions participated.

gathering of many Buddhist denominations monks consecrate the land

The project is overseen by the Trustees and supporters of the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara, who include both Burmese and Westerners; its management is under overall Theravadin direction, but this does not preclude our working with other groups with an eventual interest in using the premises so provided.

    The pagoda has been named "Dhamma-Talaka", which means "Reservoir of Truth", this being derived from its location near Edgbaston Reservoir.

Construction of the Pagoda

The trustees decided to build a peace pagoda as in the initial phase of the project. Many generous supporters have donated sufficient money for foundations to be laid and building started in 1993. The site presented some problems because it was formerly put to industrial rather than residential use. Our architect, David Jones, and an official of the City Planning Department, therefore suggested that the foundation be deep and strong.

Concrete foundations
    The foundations being laid to a depth of 15', the concrete base being one metre deep and wide

We also needed to make provision for sewerage, water and electricity supply. This required considerable expenditure. Work has now begun on the second stage of the buiding, comprising provision of roof supports and construction of walls to roof level.

concrete framework of 8 support columns and roof
    The basic circumference of the Pagoda is 153ft made up of eight intervals of 19'03" between the eight support columns, these representing the eight directions of Buddhist thought.
Drawings of a traditional Burmese-style roof for the pagoda have been prepared by the architect and granted planning permission. It is to this stage that we must next move, and hopefully complete it before the end of this summer ['95]. Two Burmese artists have arrived in this country and are presently living in a mobile home on the site. They are engaged in modelling and carving designs for the Pagoda's accessories so that they will be ready for installation as soon as the shell is completed.

craftsmen at work
    The Burmese craftsmen, U Win Tin and U Khin Zaw Oo, at work on the decorative artifacts making them ready for inclusion in the complete pagoda in Burmese style.
Many other accessories are awaiting shipment from Burma. These include teak door covers carved to traditional designs, a five foot high marble statue of Buddha in meditation posture, the umbrella attached to the crown, made of gold-plated steel and adorned with bells, the diamond bud, made of pure crystal and the brass flag decorated with gold and semi-precious stones. The relics of the Buddha to be enshrined beneath the latter derive from those once held by the old Burmese royal family. The building will be the only example of the pure Burmese style pagoda in the West.

The City of Birmingham

In 1086 in the Doomesday Surveys, Birmingham was recorded as a small village worth just one pound sterling! Between then and 1889 when Queen Victoria granted it City status, Birmingham had already grown to a sizeable town. Now in 1995, approaching the millenium, the City covers nearly 67,000 acres and has a population of over 1 million. The makeup of this vast number of people is an exciting one with many of the new citizens coming to live here from all parts of the globe, a high percentage being from N. & S. Asia and S.E. Asia. We are sure that on the completion of the Dhamma-Talaka Peace Pagoda, which is only a mile or two away from Birmingham's centre, many of the visitors will be coming to see the Pagoda which is designed in the distinctive Burmese style.

A copy of the leaflet from which these pages have been transcribed is available from the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara. This also gives details of how to make donations.

vihara logo

Birmingham Buddhist Vihara
47 Carlyle Road
B16 9BH
United Kingdom

Phone/Fax: +44 (0)121 454 6591

Peace Pagoda
Osler Street
Birmingham B16 9EU

Phone: 0121-455 0650

May this project bring happiness to all beings!

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Last modified: 16 June 1998