UPDATE: Great Stupa of Universal Compassion director Ian Green has overseen the construction of the stupa since 2003.
For him, the installation of the top pieces is another huge step forward.
"It feels incredible. It didn't feel real until today and I saw the two cranes, then it sunk in - all this work we have been doing for so long is now actually going to come to a final stage," he said.
"I had been imagining how it would look but to see it, it's just an incredible experience at the end of so much work and effort."
Mr Green said in 2003 he wasn't sure how long it would take to build the stupa but he didn't think it would be 16 years.
"I was optimistic then. I envisaged it would go a lot quicker but I didn't have an idea of how complex a building like this is.
"Every bit had to be thought out. The structure had to be designed, engineered and made to last."
Work will continue for years on the decor of the building but when the four-metre finial (created in Nepal) is added in January, the exterior construction will be completed.
Production efforts in the pieces installed this week include input from as far away as Nepal.
"All the pieces (on the roof) are hand painted, mostly in the stupa," Mr Green said. "It has been an incredible operation with hundreds of people working on it.
"Running around the top are multi-coloured lotus leaves, which were all pressed in Adelaide from aluminium and painted in the stupa.
"The eyes were made by a team in Queensland, other pieces underneath were painted here, some were made in Bendigo, some in the Sunshne Coast.
"Most of gold plating work (on the parasol) was done in Kathmandu in Nepal and transported out bit by bit."
A small crowd watched intently this morning as the Harmika and parasol were lifted into place.
"A whole heap have heard about it," Mr Green said. "There's locals, some have come from Melbourne for it and some tourists yesterday stayed another night to come and see this.
"It means a lot to me but also signifies the importance of stupa. People can start to see is what a unique iconic building central Victoria has.
"There is nothing like this anywhere outside of Asia, that's why so many people coming to see it."
Mr Green said tens of thousands of people came to the stupa each year.
"Last year we had 30,000 visitors come and that doesn't include festivals," he said.
"So there is an incredible number coming. We are projecting in two or three years 50,000 people to visit (annually)."
EARLIER: The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion will add 18 metres of height to its exterior today.
Before this morning, the Stupa was close to 30 metres high. Following the installation of three more pieces today it will stand at 48 metres.
The structure is now visible from Allies Road.
Installation began at 7am with a sokshing (life-force tree) being installed in the roof and building.
That was followed by the Harmika and 13 rings which weigh around 30 tonnes.
The last 19 metres have been completely decorated with traditional Buddhist art created by a team of local artists as well as bespoke works made in Nepal.
The final piece being installed is the gold-plated parasol. It is expected to be completed by 11am.
"Raising the top of the stupa is a once in a millennium moment in what we plan to be the 1000-year life of The Great Stupa," Great Stupa director Ian Green said.
"It must be what it felt like for the builders of the great cathedrals or mosques of the world when the final spire or domes were put in place."
The final piece to put in place - a gold finial - will travel from Nepal and arrive in mid-January.
"It's about 4 metres tall and sits on top of the parasol. (When it arrives) it will be lifted up ahead of our unveiling which is set for January 31," Mr Green said.
"At times I thought I wouldn't see this much (completed) in my life but I'm so happy we can see the outside of it almost complete. It completes the shape of the exterior.
"Once the top is on, we will work our way down with decorations. The background will stay white but there will be incredible colour on each level. That will happen over time.
"(In the meantime) we will put some decorative pieces on the round level - called the bumpa - and then finishing roof for the unveiling. "
Mr Green said the original construction began in 2003.
"For the past 16 years we have been focused on concrete and steel," he said. "But the top of the stupa will be fully decorated in brilliant colours of traditional Buddhist iconography.
"It gives us a real sense of how spectacular the whole stupa will be when complete."
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