Swaminarayan Akshardham reflects
the essence and magnitude of India's ancient
architecture, traditions and timeless spirituality.
The main monument, depicting ancient Indian "vastu shastra"
and architecture, is a marvel in pink sandstone and white marble that is 141
feet high, 316 feet wide and 370 feet long with 234 ornate pillars, over 20,000
sculptures and statues of deities, eleven 72-foot-high huge domes (mandapams)
and decorative arches. And like a necklace, a double-storied parikrama of red
sandstone encircles the monuments with over 155 small domes and 1,160 pillars.
The whole monument rises on the shoulders of 148 huge elephants with 11-feet
tall panchdhatu statue of Swaminarayan presiding over the structure.
attractions of the complex are three exhibition halls spaced around two huge
ponds, where one is a venue for light-and-sound show. The three halls are
"Sahajanand Darshan", "Neelkanth Darsdhan" and "Sanskruti Vihar". "Sahajanand
Darshan" is where life of Swaminarayan is displayed through robotic shows,
while "Neelkanth Darsdhan" has a huge I-Max theatre screening movie based on
the life of the Lord. Another amazing presentation is "Sanskruti Vihar" with
12-minute boat ride experience of India's glorious heritage.
The sprawling Swaminarayan
Akshardham complex spread over 30 acres on the banks of the Yamuna near Noida
Mor in East Delhi.
visitors, entry to the complex is free. However, those who want to visit
exhibition halls and theatres, Rs.125 is to be paid and for children and senior
citizens the charges are Rs.75. "Over 6,000 visitors could easily witness the
shows and enjoy boat-rides everyday, while over 25,000 people can visit the
temple. We have deployed almost 140 guides who will facilitate visitors during
their visit. It requires at least four hours to visit the entire complex
thoroughly and see all the shows," said a temple management committee member,
adding that the opening ceremony would be telecast live on Aastha channel.
Elaborate security arrangements have also been made for the entire complex.
Besides installing close circuit television cameras it has also deployed
hundreds of its own security personnel.
Rs.400-crore cultural complex, inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj of the
Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), will be
popularised by its builders as "a place for cultural education and
entertainment". The temple complex has drawn inspiration for its architecture
from the historic temples of Badrinath (Uttaranchal), Somnath (Gujarat) and
Konark (Orissa). It is the second Akshardham complex in the country after the
one at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
Even as last-minute
preparations are now on for the inauguration, curious visitors have started
coming in for a look or for offering "puja" and "abhishek".
heart of the complex is a palace-like monument built of at least 12,000 tons of
pink sandstone and white marble brought in from Rajasthan. Topped with a series
of domes, it stands 129 feet high, 275 feet wide and 315 feet long. Almost
every square inch of the exterior has been exquisitely carved with statues and
motifs of Hindu deities and Indian flora and fauna.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the
83-year-old spiritual leader of the Swaminarayan sect that has over 10 lakh
followers across the globe, has closely monitored every detail of the complex.
It took over 7,000 builders, masons and polishers to build the complex in
record time. The place is built to withstand major quakes "and to last at least
a thousand years".
complex also has two huge exhibition halls; one will take visitors on a visual
journey through India's cultural heritage, while the other "will depict Indian
moral values through a light-and-sound show". The complex also boasts of an
Imax cinema, a canteen big enough to accommodate 5,000 people at one sitting, a
research centre for "social harmony" and meditation gardens dotted with
fountains and bronze sculptures.