Akshardham, Delhi is the largest Hindu temple, the construction of which took as much as 5 years and required half a billion US dollars. It amazes with its beauty and grandeur, strict safety rules and an altruistic “approach to business”, because you can get into the complex territory for free.
The Hindu temple complex Akshardham, whose name translates as “the abode of God that cannot be moved,” is located on the banks of the Yamuna River. This is not only the largest, but also the most significant monument, erected in honor of the culture and spirituality of India. In addition to the prayer house, which is the central part of the whole composition, the complex has magnificent parks, its own cinema, an artificial river channel, as well as numerous cafes, food courts and souvenir shops. Well, the most impressive element of the shrine is a small lake filled with water from all reservoirs of India.
There is a lotus garden on the left side of the complex, and a fountain garden on the right. All this is surrounded by many different figures – from miniature caryatids to life-size monuments. At present, Swaminarayan Akshardham in Delhi is one of the most visited attractions in India. Moreover, in its grandeur, it has long surpassed not only the legendary Taj Mahal, but also many other world-famous buildings. For this feature, the temple was included in the Guinness Book of Records.
The history of Akshardhama could begin back in the 70s. The 20th century, when Yogiji Maharaja, the head of the BARS spiritual center, decided to build a unique sanctuary in Delhi dedicated to the great yogi and preacher Swami Narayan. However, he did not succeed in translating his idea into reality – Yogiji died of a sudden illness, and his project was dusted for many years in one of the center’s drawers.
The next time he was remembered only in 1982, when the folder with the drawings fell into the hands of one of the successors of Maharaja. But this attempt was also unsuccessful, because for the construction of the temple required just the same unbearable money – at least 500 million dollars. It took another 18 years to collect this amount, obtained through voluntary donations. And finally, it happened!
In 2000, the project management acquires 12 hectares of land on the banks of the Yamuna and begins the construction of one of the most beautiful Indian attractions. At that time, about 10 thousand craftsmen, masons and laborers who worked here for 5 years gathered in Delhi. The result of their work was a magnificent temple complex, the official opening of which took place in November 2005.
Looking at the photos of Akshardham in tourist avenues, it is impossible not to notice 10 huge gates, from which acquaintance with a modern monument of Hindu architecture begins. Passing through this gate, visitors find themselves in Mandir, a stately prayer house whose height is 43 m, length – 108 m, and width – 96 m.
Akshardham Mandir, the base of which rests on 147 figures of elephants, is built of unique Rajasthan sandstone, pink granite and snow-white marble, symbolizing peace, purity and love of God. The first thing that catches your eye when looking at this structure is the refined pilasters located along the entire perimeter of the temple. All 234 columns are decorated with hand-carved patterns and scenes from Indian mythology.
Another feature of the house of worship can be called a huge number of statues erected in honor of numerous Hindu deities (murtias) – there are as many as 20 thousand of them. The walls of each of them are decorated with graceful figures of birds, animals and dancers. The Mandir itself is divided into several parts that have a spiritual and symbolic meaning. All this magnificence is crowned by 20 quadrangular spiers and 9 domes decorated with graceful carved patterns.
It is noteworthy that the construction of the temple complex was carried out without the use of a metal frame, and cement mortar is present only in the foundation. But in this case it was simply impossible to do without him, because Akshardham stands on the bank of the river. But the remaining designs of Mandir are prefabricated – they were not only assembled as one huge puzzle, but they were also turned 90 °, creating a solid and incredibly accurate picture.
Akshardham Mandir can be divided into 3 mandapams (thematic spaces), interconnected by a chain of mazes. The first is a modern cinema with a huge multimedia screen broadcasting an entertaining 40-minute film about the life of the great teacher Narayan. And to make the sight even more interesting, the picture on the screen is accompanied by a number of visual and sound special effects.
The next mandap, called the Hall of Values, allows you to plunge into the history of the Indian people and feel like a direct participant in long-standing events. Here on every corner you can see “live installations”, the protagonists of which are realistic robot mannequins. Among them, the most interesting is the “child of Svaminarayan,” represented by the smallest in animatronics. Thanks to the ability to synchronously move, talk and gesture, “electronic people” successfully demonstrate individual scenes from the life of the famous Indian guru.
In the third hall of Akshardham, an artificial river awaits visitors, along which regular boat trips take place. The trip is accompanied by quiet music and an unhurried story of the guide about the development of ancient Indian culture. Boats connected with each other by cables leave in 10-15 minutes. In each of them there can be no more than 15 people.
The interior of the temple deserves no less attention. Thus, the entrance doors of Akshardham are decorated with carved incarnations of Sri Vishnu, the walls are decorated with illustrations for ancient parables and images of Hindu deities, and the walls made of white marble are inlaid with gilding and natural stones. The arched ceilings of the halls are supported by multiple columns, reflected in the mirror surface of the polished floor, and the domed arches amaze the imagination with delicate openwork weaving.
Another feature of Mandir is a huge number of various sculptures, among which a special place is occupied by the 3-meter statue of Swami Narayan, installed under the central dome of the temple and surrounded by small statues of his students. In accordance with Hindu traditions, 5 different metals were used for their manufacture – copper, tin, iron, zinc and gold, silver or nickel (the last metal was chosen depending on the sacred value of the product). A little further you can see the rosary, shoes and footprints of the great sage, as well as more than a dozen artistic paintings that tell about his earthly being. And in the alcove of the temple are the remains of the guru.
When you get acquainted with the photo and description of Akshardham in Delhi, you will probably come across information about the Sahaj Anand water show, which is held in the open air after dark. The main participants in this spectacle are musical fountains made in the form of a lotus and placed inside a huge stone amphora. The inner surface of this bowl plays the role of steps (there are 2870 of them) and seats designed for several thousand spectators.
The design of the main pool, decorated with 9 lotus fountains, is an exact copy of the ritual yantra, a special pattern used in sacred Hindu ceremonies. In the center of this well is a bronze statue of Murti, whose height reaches 8.5 m.
The show, which lasts about 20 minutes, combines several special effects at once – a video projection, multi-color lasers, luminous jets of water and underwater flame. In combination with the skillful play of real actors, all this creates a fascinating and incredibly spectacular presentation.
Admission Ticket Price:
- Adults (from 12 years old) – $ 1.2;
- Children 4-11 years old – $ 0.7;
- Children under 4 years old – free of charge.
When visiting Mandir, certain rules of conduct must be observed:
- Backpacks, bags, mobile phones, as well as photo and video equipment will have to be left in free left-luggage offices. Worry about their safety is not worth it. Firstly, each visitor is given a special token, and secondly, the store employee will photograph you along with their checked baggage.
- The security system in Akshardham provides not only the passage of a frame with a metal detector, but also a personal inspection of each tourist. Pockets are felt very carefully, so it’s unlikely that they can hide a prohibited item in them.
- The mandir, like any sacred place, requires an appropriate dress code. So, both women’s and men’s clothing should completely cover the shoulders, chest, upper arms, belly and knees. Those whose appearance does not meet these requirements can take a free sarong (pay $ 1.5 and get them back when you return the sarong at the exit).
- At the entrance to Akshardham, they remove not only hats, but also shoes.
- All offerings in the temple are served with the right hand.
- If you want to relax or pray, in no case do not sit with your feet on the altar – take a lotus position or bend your legs under you. And one more thing – men sit on the left side of the hall, and women – on the right.
- Any exclamations and loud conversations are prohibited in the house of worship.
- Akshardham Temple, located at Nh 24 | Akshardham Setu, New Delhi 110092, India.
- Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 09:30 to 20:00.
- Entrance to the complex is free. But excursions, water shows and photographic services are provided for a fee.
- Look for details on the official website – https://akshardham.com/
Having decided to visit Akshardham, Delhi, take note of a few useful tips:
- When setting off for a temple inspection, limit yourself to a wallet or small handbag. Believe me, no matter how you try, it’s still impossible to bring a telephone or a video camera to the territory of the sanctuary. If you come light, you can avoid the huge lines lining up for left-luggage offices. By the way, the largest number of people in front of him gather before the start of the water show.
- The best way to get to Mandir is by metro – look for the station of the same name.
- Despite the hot climate, the temples are pretty cool. Feet are especially cold – it is worth grabbing socks.
- Official photographers work in the complex, so if you really want to bring at least 1-2 pictures from Akshardham, you can use their services.
- Tours of the temple are conducted in two languages - Hindi and English. 4-5 Indian groups account for one English. You may have to wait about half an hour for its formation, but it’s worth it – you can hear many interesting stories from the life of Bhagavan Swami Narayan.
Visiting Akshardham Temple and Indian Bazaar: