A mega temple complex, Akshardham, in New Delhi, one of the biggest and most intricate places of worship ever constructed, is drawing hordes of visitors and seems set to become a major tourist attraction. Constructed by the BAPS (Bochasanvasi Aksharpurushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha) foundation, builders of more than 600 temples worldwide, on the banks of the Yamuna river, near Noida Mor in East Delhi, it is widely being heralded as one of the greatest monuments India has ever produced.
 
 
 
 
  • The complex is huge … spread over 100 acres of land
  • It is made entirely of white marble (symbolizing purity and peace) and the red sand stone so characteristic of Delhi monuments
  • No steel has been used in its construction
  • It is a fusion of several styles of North Indian temple architecture - Rajasthani, Orrisan, Gujarati, Mughal and Jain
  • It is estimated to have cost Rs 200 crore
  • It has been funded from donations
  • It was completed in only 5 years, probably a world record of sorts
  • Over 300 million man hours of service were rendered in its completion by 11,000 volunteers
 
         
 
  • A main monument, 141 feet high, 316 feet wide and 370 feet long, and a 11-feet tall panchdhatu (5 elements) statue of
    Swaminarayan in the sanctum sanctorum. Designed and sculpted according to the ancient Indian tradition of vastu shastra, it has 234 ornately carved pillars, 9 domes, 20,000 statues, decorative arches and layers of sculpted flora and fauna. The entire thing rests on a spectacular Gajendra Pith (plinth of 148 stone elephants, each of whom has “a story”).
  • An experiential exhibition hall,
    Sahajanand Darshan, where the life of Swaminarayan is displayed through robotic shows.
 
 
  • An IMAX theatre, at the Neelkanth Darshan Hall, which screens a 45-minute film on the life of Lord Swaminarayan, the founder of the sect, who left home at 11 to traverse the length and breadth of India.
  • Sanskruti Vihar, an exhibition hall, which offers a 12-minute boat ride through tableaux that
    showcase India's glorious heritage, beginning with the Vedic age. Statues come alive as they propound values like vegetarianism and non-violence.
  • 2 huge ponds, one of which is the venue for 2 son-et-lumiere shows every evening, complete with
    dancing fountains.
  • A double-storied parikrama of red sandstone.
  • A shop that sells all the paraphernalia that goes with Hinduism - incense sticks, beads and spiritual books.
 
 

 

The complex is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entry to the complex is free. However, there is a fee of Rs 125 (Rs 75 for children and senior citizens) for the exhibition hall, theatre and boat ride. Allocate a clear 4 hours if you want to see everything.

Elaborate security arrangements are in place, and you will have to deposit your mobile phones, cameras, food and any purse bigger than a wallet.

    Click here to download Akshardham Screensaver
 
 
 
Images courtesy BAPS (c) Ministry of Tourism Government of India