Akshardham Temple (or Swaminarayan Akshardham) in Delhi, the capital of India, is a Hindu temple complex. The complex has been designed to display eras of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, religiousness, and architecture. The temple is a tribute to Bhagwan Swaminarayan (Sahajanand Swami) – the central figure in a modern sect of Hinduism known as the Swaminarayan Hinduism. It also honours the avatars, devas and great sages of Hinduism.
The word Akshardham means the abode of God. The edifice is believed to be a temporal home of God on earth. The building was inspired and moderated by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS).
Officially opened on 6 November 2005, the temple attracts approximately 70 per cent of all tourists who visit Delhi. The 316-foot wide and 356-foot long structure ascends to a height of 141-foot. The traditionally-styled complex displays many elaborately-carved designs of flora, fauna, dancers, musicians, and deities.
“The complex features an Abhisheka Mandap, Sahaj Anand water show, a thematic garden and three exhibitions namely Sahajanand Darshan (Hall of Values), Neelkanth Darshan (an IMAX film on the early life of Swaminarayan as the teenage yogi, Neelkanth), and Sanskruti Darshan (cultural boat ride).”Wikipedia
The temple architecture follows the Vastu shastra and Pancharatra shastra principles. Mandir is built from intricately carved Rajasthani pink sandstone and Italian Carrara marble.
Some prominent architectural marvels of temple structure are 234 richly carved pillars, nine domes, and 20,000 idols of sadhus, devotees, and gurus. The Gajendra Pith at the temple features 148 life-sized elephants in total weighing a total of 3000 tons. This has been included as a unique way to pay tribute to the elephant for its importance in Hindu culture and India’s history.
An 11-foot tall idol of Swaminarayan seated in abhayamudra is placed below the temple’s central dome. The main idol is flanked by images of the faith’s lineage of gurus. Idols of Sita Ram, Radha Krishna, Shiv Parvati, and Lakshmi Narayan are also featured.
Founding of the Temple
The plan initiator of the Akshardham Temple was Yogiji Maharaj – the fourth spiritual successor of Swaminarayan in the denomination of BAPS. Though during his life time little progress was made, after his death Pramukh Swami Maharaj – the next spiritual head of BAPS, put in all the efforts to materialise his guru’s vision. A request for the plan was put forward to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). Pramukh Swami Maharaj was stern in realizing the wishes of Yogiji Maharaj to build a temple on the Yamuna. In April 2000, the Delhi Development Authority and the Uttar Pradesh Government offered land for the project. Construction on the temple began on 8 November 2000 and it was completed in 2005.
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