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Guinness comes to east Delhi: Akshardham world’s largest Hindu temple

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Preeti Jha

Posted online: Thursday , December 27, 2007 at 12:00:00
Updated: Wednesday, December 26, 2007 at 11:46:13

New Delhi, December 26 Akshardham Temple near Mayur Vihar in east Delhi is in the Guinness World Records now. On December 17, the book entered Akshardham in its records as the largest comprehensive Hindu temple in the world.

Following a presentation ceremony held in Gujarat, bold signs marking the record now dot the sprawling complex.

Initially, the signs were only prepared in English, but on Monday Hindi translations went up to reach a wider audience. “The record will probably attract more visitors. But we don’t believe in advertising the temple, it speaks for itself,” said a volunteer, not wishing to be named.

The temple is spread over expansive lawns covering an area of 86,342 square feet and receives approximately 8,000 visitors every day.

But Mani Ambalal Patel, from Pune, visited the temple only after hearing about its record winning status on television. “Learning it was the largest temple in the world spurred my interest, so I made a trip to Delhi,” she said.

After Guinness took note, many are visiting the temple for a second dekko. For Henna Patel, an NRI based in the US, the unique aspect of the temple is the contribution of its volunteers. “Akshardham is built by the people for the people.”

On top of its aesthetic appeal, the temple serves many as a learning aid. “NRIs use Akshardham Temple to teach their children about India,” Khanna said. “Too often, all foreigners see (in India) is the Dharavi slum (in Mumbai) and the poor in Kolkata. Our temple offers another slice of India — a showcase of Vedic art and architecture.” Henna Patel is one such NRI, looking forward to taking her children on the temple’s boat ride. “It’s nice for the kids to see India’s heritage and feel proud. When they go home, they can tell their American friends something they may not know about Indian history.”

A common sentiment voiced by visitors was awe at the quality of the temple’s architecture. Severina Simeonova, 22, from Bulgaria, said: “We don’t make things like this anymore in Europe. It’s all about building up and fast.” Pem Norkhang, here on a two-day visit from Himachal Pradesh, said he did not want to miss anything in the temple complex. “It’s astonishing they built it in only five years.”

Pramukh Swami Maharaj, he spiritual leader of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, the organisation responsible for creating Akshardham, also received a world record: for the most Hindu temples consecrated by a single person. According to Guinness, he has consecrated 713 temples in five continents between April 1971 and November 2007.

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