Lotus Temple is one of the main architectural attractions not only in Delhi, but throughout India. Its creators sacredly believe that there is only one god on earth, and there are simply no boundaries between one religion or another.
Lotus Temple, the official name of which is the Bahai House of Worship, is located in the village of Bahapur (southeast of Delhi). The huge religious building, the shape of which resembles a half-blossomed lotus flower, is made of concrete and covered with snow-white Pentelian marble, brought from Mount Pendelicon in Greece.
The temple complex, which includes 9 outdoor pools and a huge garden, occupying more than 10 hectares, is considered the largest building of our time, built according to the canons of Bahaism. The size of this shrine is really impressive: height – about 40 m, the area of the main hall – 76 square meters. m, capacity – 1300 people.
Interestingly, the Bahai House of Worship is fresh and cool even in the most intense heat. The “fault” is the special system of natural ventilation used in the construction of ancient temples. According to it, the cold air passing through the foundation and the pools filled with water warms up in the middle of the building and exits through a small hole in the dome.
There are no familiar clergy in the White Lotus Temple – their role is played by regularly changing volunteers who not only keep order, but also conduct several prayer programs a day. At this time, within the walls of the House, you can hear acapella singing of prayers and reading the scriptures belonging to both Bahaism and other faiths.
Doors of Lotus Temple are open to representatives of all faiths and nationalities, and spacious halls in the form of flower petals have long meditations, which take place in complete harmony and pacification. Over the first 10 years since the opening, more than 50 million visitors have visited it, and during the holidays, the number of parishioners and ordinary tourists can reach 150 thousand people.
The Lotus Temple in Delhi, often compared to the Taj Mahal, was built in 1986 with money raised by Baha’i representatives around the world. True, the idea of such a construction arose much earlier – at least 65 years before. It was then, in 1921, that a young community of Indian co-religionists turned to Abdul-Baha, the founder of the Bahai religion, with a proposal to create his own cathedral. Their desire was granted, only the collection of funds necessary for the construction of this facility took almost half a century.
The foundation of the House was laid in 1976 according to the drawings developed by Fariborza Sahba. But before the world saw this unique structure, the Canadian architect had to carry out truly grandiose work.
For about 2 years, Sahba was looking for inspiration in the best architectural buildings in the world, until he found it in the famous Sydney Opera House, made in the style of structural expressionism. The development of the sketch, made with the help of modern computer programs, also took the same amount. The remaining 6 years were spent on the construction itself, in which more than 800 people took part.
The result of such painstaking work was a unique structure, which is the main temple of the Bahá’í religion, not only in India, but also in many neighboring countries. They say that about 100 million rupees were spent on its construction and decoration of the adjacent territory. The place for the shrine was also not chosen by chance – in the old days there was a mythical settlement of Bach Pur, closely connected with the history of this creed.
The idea of a cathedral that has no borders between religions has been supported throughout the world. To date, the followers of Baha’ism have managed to build 7 more such sanctuaries scattered in different parts of the world. In addition to Delhi, they are in Uganda, America, Germany, Panama, Samoa and Australia. The eighth temple, which is currently under construction, is located in Chile (Santiago). True, in religious books and in sacred circles there are references to the Bahai Houses of Worship, erected by ancient civilizations. One of them is located in Crimea, the second – in Egypt, but the path to them is known only to the initiates.
Temple idea and architecture
Looking at the photo of the Lotus Temple in India, you can see that every detail present in the architecture of this building has its own high meaning. But first things first.
Lotus is a divine flower, considered a symbol of enlightenment, spiritual purity and the pursuit of perfection. Guided by this idea, the chief architect designed 27 huge petals located around the entire circumference of the building. In this simple way, he wanted to show that human life is nothing more than a rebirth of the soul and an endless cycle of birth and death.
The number 9 in Bahaism is sacred, so it can be found not only in the holy scriptures, but also in the architecture of almost all Bahai cathedrals. Lotus Temple was not an exception to the rules, the proportions of which exactly correspond to the main principles of this dogma:
- 27 petals arranged in 3 rows of 9 pieces;
- 9 compartments combined in 3 groups;
- 9 pools located around the perimeter of the temple;
- 9 separate doors leading to the inner room.
In the outlines of the Bahá’í House of Worship, not a single straight line can be found. They gently flow over the bends of half-opened snow-white petals, indicating the free flow of thoughts, aspiring to higher matters. It is worth noting the rounded shape of the sanctuary, symbolizing the movement of life along the Wheel of Samsara and reminding people that they came to this world only in order to get a certain experience.
The nine doors to the Lotus Temple in Delhi (India) indicate the number of major world religions and provide freedom of religion to anyone who comes within its walls. At the same time, they all lead from the central part of the hall to the nine outer corners, hinting that the abundance of creeds existing today only leads a person away from the direct road to God.
The architect who worked on the Lotus Temple, took into account all aspects and thought out not only the shape of the cathedral, but also its surroundings. It is for this reason that the temple complex was built a few kilometers from the city, so that everyone could forget at least for a while about their daily worries and fuss. And along its perimeter 9 pools appeared, creating the impression that a stone flower actually glides along the surface of the water.
With the onset of darkness, this whole structure is highlighted with powerful LED lamps, which make it even more realistic. The originality of this building did not go unnoticed – it is regularly mentioned in journal and newspaper articles, as well as awarded with various prizes and architectural awards.
Looking at the photo of the Lotus Temple in New Delhi inside, you will not see expensive icons, marble statues, altars, or wall paintings – just prayer shops and a few simple chairs. However, such asceticism is in no way connected with the lack of money for arranging one of the main attractions of India. The fact is that according to the scripture, Bahai temples should not contain any jewelry that does not have the slightest spiritual value and only distract the parishioners from its true purpose.
The only exception is the huge nine-pointed Bahai sign, made of pure gold and placed under the dome of the shrine. If you look closely, you can see the phrase “God Above All,” written in Arabic. In addition to the central hall, there are several separate segments dedicated to all world religions. A separate gate leads to each of them.
Free tours of the complex are held daily. To do this, specially trained employees stand before entering the Lotus Temple in India, who gather all people in groups, explain the rules of conduct to them, and then pass them on to professional guides. To avoid hustle and bustle, people are launched in portions, however, foreign tourists have an advantage over the inhabitants of India, so you definitely will not have to languish in anticipation of your turn.
The duration of the tour is one hour, after which the group is taken to the courtyard, where she is expected to walk in the park. The number of groups let in at the same time depends on the total number of visitors (there can be either 1, 2, or 3). At the same time, they try to keep representatives of European countries together, and tours for them are conducted in English (there is no audio guide, but if you are very lucky, you can find a Russian-speaking guide).
Lotus Temple (New Delhi) is open year-round from Tuesday to Sunday. Opening hours depend on the time of year:
- Winter (01.10 – 31.03): from 09:00 to 17:00;
- Summer (01.04 – 30.09): from 09:00 to 18:00.
On Sundays and public holidays, the Prayer Hall is closed until 12 noon.
You can find this important Indian attraction at: Near Kalkaji Temple, East of Nehru Place, New Delhi 110019, India. Entrance to the territory is free, but you can leave a small donation if you wish. Look for more information on the official website – http://www.bahaihouseofworship.in/
Before you go on an excursion to the Lotus Temple, take a note of some useful tips:
- Before entering the territory of the sanctuary, shoes are left in free lockers – this condition is mandatory.
- Absolute silence should be observed in the Bahai House of Worship – thanks to the unique acoustics, your every word will be heard by everyone present.
- Using photo and video equipment inside the House is prohibited, but outside you can shoot as many as you like.
- The best photos of the cathedral are obtained in the morning.
- Before you get to the park, you will have to pass a test. At the same time, not only the bags are searched, but also the visitors themselves (there are 2 separate lines for women and men).
- It is forbidden to bring food and alcohol to the territory of the complex.
- To make your visit to Lotus Temple even more impressive, come here during prayer hours (10:00, 12:00, 15:00 and 17:00).
- The most convenient way to get to the place is from the Nehru Place or Kalkaji Mandir metro stations. But for those who are not very well oriented in the city, it is better to order a taxi.
Lotus Temple in Delhi aerial view: