A FOUR-METRE finial was unveiled at the top of the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion on Friday - signalling the completion of 17 years of construction.
The Great Stupa now stands at a total height of 48 metres.
"It is the golden cherry on top," stupa director Ian Green said. "It's a beautiful piece of gold-plated copper that is highly symbolic.
"It's another step on the path. Now we have the top decorated, we will work our way down on the outside.
"We are also getting the main area inside completed as well. If, in my lifetime, I can see the whole outside completed and the temple decorates, I'll be over the moon."
Director Ian Green said being able to share the unveiling with so many people was a joy.
The stupa has is already internationally renowned with tens of thousands of visitors each year.
"It was always, in my mind, a very, very big international thing but it was only idea," Mr Green said. "It couldn't become a reality until we were here.
"The reason we built it was to inspire people to come here and feel peaceful and compassionate, not just a local thing but an international symbol."
During its construction, which began in 2003, the stupa has also hosted the Dalai Lama in 2007.
"That experience was amazing," Mr Green said. "We have invited him back again but I'm not sure he can come because of his ill health. He's not travelling far distances at the moment.
"(In 2007), the Dalai Lama said. this stupa would be very significant for Tibetan Buddhism and culture but also he hoped it would be a major centre of interfaith.
"That has inspired us. It's a stupa for everyone, no matter your faith."
Mr Green, City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O'Rourke, Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allen and Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards were hoisted 50 metres in the air to unveil the finial during a ceremony on Friday.
"This is a very important place of worship for people internationally," Ms Allen said. "There's been a lot of expectation around the conclusion of this project but it's great to celebrate that milestone today.
"Ian and Judy Green's vision bought so many people to this project, which is why so much private and philanthropic support has been given to it.
"You can see from the ground the attention to detail on every level. The craftspersonship that has gone into the design and detail is quite spectacular."
The state government provided 50 per cent of the funding for the completion of the stupa through the Regional Tourism Investment Fund.
Ms Edwards hoped more locals would visit the now-completed stupa.
"I don't think people realise how fortunate we are to have this feature," she said. "It's truly magnificent and I hope lots of locals come to see it because it is a sight to behold.
"You can explain to people what the vision of Ian and Judy was but can't show it in pictures. You have to see it for yourself to see the size and extent of the structure. It's unbelievable."
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