Mosque to appear in Temple of All Religions

Ilgiz Khanov promises it will be the most beautiful hall of the complex

Mosque to appear in Temple of All Religions
Photo: Maxim Platonov

A Tatar hall in the form of a mosque with a transparent atrium, which will be the pearl of the unique project, will be built in the Temple of All Religions by the 1,100th anniversary of the adoption of Islam by Volga Bulgaria. After that, Ilgiz Khanov, who continued the business of his brother Ildar, plans to create a pagan hall too. He deliberately took Realnoe Vremy on an excursion to the temple, showed the almost finished Buddhist hall and the Hindu God Shiva, which will open in a month. The most surprising thing is that artist is doing the project his brother started alone, with his own money.

Like in Dalai Lamas residency

After Ildar Khanov’s death, his brother continues the construction of the ecumenical temple. He not only reconstructed all the property that was burnt, including the artist’s paintings, but also built new annexes. Ilgiz Khanov stresses that the Temple of All Religions isn’t a cult building designed to do rituals, its goal is to show people the interior, attributes of different religions and faiths, elements of different ethnicities’ cultures.

The opening of a Buddhist hall is next in line. The work on it began last winter. Now it is necessary to complete the altar’s finishing, and as Khanov says, “to make the sky” — to install timber beams with lamps on the ceiling above it. The room turned out to be very bright and richly decorated. The ceiling is adorned with painting and mosaic, the adjacent plaster frieze has an ornament and niches with gold-plated Buddha figurines.

The work on the Buddhist hall began last winter

There is an altar with the Buddha’s figure in a lotus pose and cult objects behind red columns with carved columns. A shelf with seven figurines of dogs — animals deeply respected in Buddhism — is located above the door. There is also a site designed for meditation.

“There isn’t such a hall even in Tibet. I used the Dalai Lama’s residency in Lhasa where I have been several times as an example. I am surprised myself how we have managed to make this a reality,” the artist says.

Artists who aren’t from Kazan helped Khanov to create all this splendour in a record six months. According to him, he cannot rely on local support.

I used the Dalai Lama’s residency in Lhasa where I have been several times as an example. I am surprised myself how we have managed to make this a reality

Shiva’s hall

The work Shiva’s hall goes on at the same time. Nowadays the interior finishing has ended: round columns with mosaic, white and sky-blue ceramic marble is on the floor symbolising two images of the Hindu god — destruction and creation. The ceiling and walls of the hall will be adorned with images Altai artist of Kazan origin Andrey Shinaryov (who is known as Andrey Shkiper in the artist community) is working on. Once he painted the walls of the Kazan Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral together with Ilgiz Khanov. In the Temple of All Religions, Shinaryov pained Krishna’s hall, while this March, his paintings were exhibited here. His daughter living in Moscow is making stained-glass windows for the temple.

The hall is universal: one can do yoga there, which Ilgiz Khanov practises. For this purpose, there were created special changing rooms leading downstairs to the hall.

The ceiling and walls of the hall will be adorned with images Altai artist of Kazan origin Andrey Shinaryov (who is known as Andrey Shkiper in the artist community) is working on

To save money, ready images printed on the canvas looking as fresco are placed in some halls of the complex. Such a technique allows working quite quickly: Khanov plans to open Shiva’s hall for the visitors in a month.

“I am doing everything quickly. This construction didn’t exist just three months ago,” the artist shows the walls of the hall.

He admits that he wakes up at 5 a.m. and gets down to work that doesn’t stop for a day. Moreover, Khanov not only makes up the architectural project and makes the design of the halls but also lays bricks, does different construction works.

In the Temple of All Religions, Shinaryov (right) pained Krishna’s hall, while this March, his paintings were exhibited here

Glass facades overlooking the Volga River

By the 1,110th anniversary of the adoption by Volga Bulgaria, Khanov is building a Tatar hall that will imitate the interior of the mosque. He thinks that it will be the most beautiful site in the whole complex. It will have three tiers of columns with capitals resembling several rows of white ceramic petals, which are now made in Saint Petersburg on request. The walls will be adorned with tiles ordered in Moscow. An atrium with a high cupola symbolising the greatness of Allah, which has a monolith foundation above now, is another feature of the project. The cupola will be complemented with ceramic elements on the exterior, inside, it will have a mosaic of national Tatar, Bashkir, Mari, Chuvash ornaments symbolising a union of peoples.

The Tatar hall will be divided, as it is accepted at mosques, into women and men’s parts.

A Slavic or pagan hall is next in line. The owner of the temple thinks his creation is a landmark because all monuments to Slavic architecture were destroyed.

“There will be a huge ball from titanium or steel lying like an egg, a completely glass facade overlooking the Volga River and an art exhibition of pagan ethnicities — Chuvash, Mordva, Udmurt, Mari peoples,” he shares his plans.

The construction goes on the artist’s own money

At the same time, together with the finishing works in the new halls, elements are added to existing halls too. For instance, the Catholic hall has had new glass-stained windows with Catholic orders Ilgiz Khanov himself made. In the Jewish hall, there is going to be placed an ark with angels holding Moses’s tables, which he doesn’t yet have enough money for.

Support is needed

The most surprising thing is that the construction goes on the artist’s own money. Due to the limited budget (because the building needs to be maintained), the process isn’t as fast as he would like.

“I rent a flat in Moscow, a pension and 100 rubles were collect during excursions is all my “wealth,” the owner of the complex admits.

However, a benefactor from India who arrived in Kazan gave him a million rubles for Shiva’s hall. He liked what he saw so much that he offered his financial assistance if the artist would create Shiva’s hall. But such gifts are rather an exception.

“Everything is tough. Nobody helps. It is very hard for me because nobody understands me here. I need support, federal support, moral support. People arriving from Moscow, Petersburg, Yekaterinburg are in shock at this beauty. They go down to their knees. While even a culture minister hasn’t been here,” Khanov complains.

A Klondike can be created here if at least the mayor of the city takes charge of it smartly

He acknowledges that he would go back to Moscow a long time ago, but a desire to finish the project his brother began keeps him here

After the authorities created parking near the building, tourist groups started to come here more actively. They total up to 2,000 a day. But as the artist noted, a half of them sees the temple outdoors, they don’t go inside. They say they have no time: their agenda is so tight that they will have no time to see the Raifa Monastery otherwise. Consequently, half the money isn’t received.

“A Klondike can be created here if at least the mayor of the city takes charge of it smartly. France, Italy live thanks to tourism, while neither of them has this. While we do have it. Every hall is a pearl. While just a little is needed,” the artist says.

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Eleonora Rylova. Photo: Maxim Platonov
Tatarstan