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Swaminarayan Akshardham

Swaminarayan Akshardham


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Swaminarayan Akshardham is the world’s largest comprehensive Hindu temple. Opened in 2005, it is located on the outskirts on New Delhi, India.

History of Swaminarayan Akshardham

Hinduism is the religion with the biggest following in India: approximately 80% of the population are adherents. The temple complex of Swaminarayan Akshardham had been planned since 1968: it was originally a vision of the Yogiji Maharaj, the spiritual head of a Hindu denomination known as BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. Little progress was made on completing this grand temple before in death in 1971.

In 1982, Yogiji Maharaj’s successor, Pramukh Swami Maharaj submitted a plan to the Delhi Development Authority to build a temple on the Yamuna. 18 years later, in 2000, 90 acres of land was offered to fulfil the project by the Delhi Development Authority and the Uttar Pradesh Government. Construction began the same year, and took around five years to complete.

The building’s foundations are comprised of 30 foot of rocks, sands, concrete and bricks in order to provide a stable foundation on which to build the monument. The main body of the building is made from 6000 tons of pink Rajasthani sandstone, much of which was carved by some of the seven thousand carvers employed. On average, around 4000 workers a day were on site for a large proportion of the five years it took to build.

The carvings are based on 8th-12th century Indian craftsmanship at sites in South India, Rajasthan and even as far a field as Angkor Wat: there are 20,000 deities, saints and mythical creatures to look for.

Swaminarayan Akshardham today

It is hard to find a sense of spirituality in Delhi’s largest temple, and whilst it is still very much used as a place of worship, security is tight and it is often swarming with tourists. Be prepared to leave virtually all of your belongings, including cameras, at the bag drop near the entrance.

However, this doesn’t detract from how beautiful the architecture of the main building is: reminiscent of Angkor Wat in style and design, it is incredibly ornate and the craftsmanship is awe-inspiring. Take some time to wander round and soak up the detail – including the 3m high gold statue of Bhagwan Shri Swaminarayan.

Entrance is ticketed, and includes a slightly bizarre theme park-esqe boat ride through 10,000 years of Indian history, including tales from the life of Swaminarayan.

The complex is also home to India’s largest step well and the lush gardens known as the Bharat Upavan, which is lined with bronzes sculptures of some of the most important figures in India’s history (according to the Sikhs at least).

Getting to Swaminarayan Akshardham

The temple lies east of the Yamuna River, and is easily accessible via the Akshadrham Metro station (Blue line). Otherwise, you should be able to get a tuk tuk or taxi from the other side of the river: the site is well known and any driver will be able to get you there easily enough.


Swaminarayan Akshardham Helpful Guide

Akshardham refers to sacred dwelling place of God. It is known as the eternal place of dedication, purity, and peace. Its spiritual message, vibrant dedication traditions, and ancient architecture are echoed in its art and architecture.

The temple pays tribute to Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830), avatars & Hindu sages. Its experience is an enlightening journey through the glorious art of India, making value, contribution to human progress, happiness, & harmony.


10 Interesting Facts about Akshardham Temple, Delhi

Delhi is a city of attractions galore, with cultural and religious destinations to be visited all over the city. One of these attractions is the famous Akshardham Temple, also known as the Swaminarayan Temple. Spread over a sprawling area of 83842 sq feet, this temple is one of the largest in the world. The grand architecture is an epitome of the history, culture and tradition of India and also stands for harmony and oneness of mankind. There is plenty to know about this amazing monument, which has become a great attraction for people across the globe.

Here is a list of 10 interesting facts about Akshardham Temple:

10. Parikrama

The Parikrama around the Akshardham Temple is framed in the form of a pavement comprising of two storeys. The 3000 feet long parikrama has 1200 pillars and 155 pinnacles.

9. Narayan Sarovar

The main building of the Akshardham Temple is surrounded by a lake called the Narayan Sarovar, which carries the water of as many as 151 sacred lakes and rivers from around the country. A series of 108 gaumukhs (faces of cows) have been made along the sarovar and these stand for the 108 Hindu Gods.

8. Garden of India

Another interesting fact about Akshardham Temple is the Garden of India, the splendid green lawns on the temple premises. These lawns have been adorned with amazing bronze statues which have been built as tribute to some of the greatest personalities of the country, such as patriots, warriors, child heroes and exemplary women of the country.

7. Lotus Garden

Akshardham Temple also houses an exquisite garden called the Lotus Garden, the name which it gets because of its shape. The garden is a symbol of spirituality as has been a part of what has been said by the historical leaders, philosophers and scientists of the country.

6. Musical Fountain Show

The beautiful temple has a great attraction for the visitors in the form of the spectacular musical fountain show called the Circle of Life, a grand 15 minute spectacle held for 15 minutes every evening. The show features the cycle of life, starting from birth till death, with beautiful colorful fountains used to depict all the events.

5. Yagnapurush Kund

Akshardham Temple hoses the Yagnapurush Kund, which is the largest of its kind in the world. The lotus shaped kund has 108 small shrines along with 2870 steps. The shape of the kund is aligned in a perfect geometrical form, such as it stands as a tribute to the ancient mathematical skills and knowledge of the scholars of India.

4. Ten Gates

Another interesting fact about Akshardham Temple is that it has 10 gates, which stand for the 10 principal directions as said in the Vedic literature. These gates depict that goodness comes in from all the directions they stand in.

3. A place in the Guinness Book of Records

Akshardham Temple has found a place in the Guinness Book of Records for being the largest comprehensive Hindu temple in the world. The most amazing thing about this huge temple complex is that it took only five years to be completes, which is something surprising. As many as 11000 artisans and countless volunteers had a contribution in the construction of this temple, which was inaugurated in November 2005.

2. Attractions of Akshardham Temple

Akshardham Temple has a lot to offer to the pilgrims and tourists who visit the temple as it combines the best of architecture with tradition and spirituality. In addition to the numerous galls and buildings housed in the temple, it displays a giant film screen which shows the movie related to the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

1. History of Akshardham Temple

The credit of building the famous Akshardham Temple goes to an organization called BAPS, which stands for Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha. The spiritual head of BAPS, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, played a key role in overseeing the making of the temple.

Akshardham Temple has become an important landmark in the city of Delhi and a trip to the city is incomplete without a visit to this beautiful place.


Contents

As an adjunct to the scriptures in establishing ultimate redemption and consolidating the framework of the holy fellowship (Satsang), Swaminarayan constructed stone mandirs, buttressing Upasana – worshipping God, and devotion towards the deities. Towards the end of his second decade of work, he placed a greater emphasis on devotion than detachment – vairagya to foster love for God. [9] This emphasis on devotion culminated in the building of mandirs, which served as permanent places of worship, centres for religious gathering, instruction, the study of Sanskrit, devotional music and Vedic literature, and as centres of social services where alms, medicines and clothes were available to the poor and needy. [10] In a span of six years, from 1822 till 1828, Swaminarayan sanctioned the construction of nine mandirs in Gujarat: Ahmedabad, Mooli, Bhuj, Vadtal, Jetalpur, Dholera, Dholka, Junagadh and Gadhada.

One of the most prominent features of the heritage of Swaminarayan is its temple architecture. The images in the temples built by Swaminarayan are the evidence of the priority of Krishna. All of the temples constructed during his life show some form of Krishna, and all temples since have such worshipable figures, or murtis. In the temples of the dioceses of Ahmedabad and Vadtal, these are predominantly a central altar or a shrine. Human forms are predominant, with the exception of the Hanuman temple at Sarangpur, where Hanuman is the central figure. [4] The temples have accommodation for ascetics built next to them. Stones were quarried in far places and carried to the temple sites.

Swaminarayan temples, like other Hindu temples, have walkways around the central shrine to allow worshipers to circumambulate the shrine, which is often decorated with designs and inlaid marble. The main shrine area is divided by railings. One side of the railing is reserved for women, as Swaminarayan said that men and women should be separated in temples to allow full concentration on god. Men perform a specified number of prostrations. In front of the men's section, there is normally a small area reserved for ascetics and special guests. There is great variety in the form and nature of the central images, in front of which are gold- or silver-plated doors that open during darshan. [6] Swaminarayan ordered the construction of the following six mandirs and installed the images of various deities, such as Nara Narayana, Laxminarayan, Radha Krishna, Radha Ramana, Revti Baldevji, himself. [11]

Temples in India Edit

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Ahmedabad Edit

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is the first temple Swaminarayan constructed. It was built in Ahmedabad in 1822, and presents images of Nara Narayana, who occupies the principal seat of the temple, and forms of Arjuna and Krishna at the central altar. The left altar has murtis of Radha Krishna. The land for construction of the temple was donated by the East India Company government of the day. The task of constructing it was entrusted by Swaminarayan to Ananandand Swami. The temple is constructed as per scriptural norms with intricate carving in Burma teak and sculptural art depicting deities' episodes, auspicious symbols and religious icons representing axiomatic religion and Indian culture. The temple is believed to be a valuable cultural heritage in the socio-religious history of Gujarat and India. [12] [2] [13] The installation ceremony of the murti forms in the temple was celebrated in the presence of thousands of pilgrims from across India. Nara Narayana . [12] [2] [13]

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Bhuj Edit

On the request of devotees from Bhuj, Swaminarayan asked Vaishnavananand Swami to go there with a team of saints and build a temple. In 1822, they camped on land adjacent to the temple site and drew plans of the temple complex. within a year they had built a temple abode of Nar Narayan. [2] [13] [14] [15] [16] The Gujarat earthquake on 26 January 2001 destroyed much of the city of Bhuj, including this temple. Members of the Swaminarayan Sampraday, including saints and satsangis of Kutch residing in India and abroad, have resolved to construct a new marble temple a short distance from the site. [17] [18] The new temple, the largest in Gujarat, was opened in May 2010 by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. [19]

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Vadtal Edit

The temple in Vadtal, also known as Vadtal Swaminarayan, is in the shape of a lotus, with nine domes in the inner temple. The land for this shrine was donated by Joban Pagi, a dacoit who was later converted into a devotee by Swaminarayan. The temple was constructed under the supervision of Brahmanand Swami, was completed within fifteen months and the idols of Laxmi Narayan was installed by Swaminarayan on 3 November 1824, amidst chants of vedic hymns and devotional fervour of the installation ceremony. [20] Swaminarayan also installed his own idol in Vadtal, naming it Harikrishna Maharaj. The walls are decorated with colourful representations from the Ramayana. [2] [13] [20] [21] [22] The temple's walls are decorated with colourful representations from the Ramayana. [2] [13] [20] [21] [22]

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Dholera Edit

Dholera is an ancient port-city, 30 kilometres (19 mi) from Dhandhuka in Ahmedabad District. This temple has three domes. Its construction was supervised and planned by Nishkulanand Swami, Bhai Atmanand Swami, Akshardanand Swami and Dharmprasad Swami. The land for the temple was donated by Darbar Punjabhai. On 19 May 1826, Swaminarayan installed the idols of Madan Mohan and his own form Harikrishna, at the principal seat of the temple and invoked Gods amidst Vedic hymns. [2] [13] [23]

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Junagadh Edit

This temple, in the city of Junagadh on Mount Girnar, has five domes and external decoration with sculptures. Its construction was supervised by Brahmanand Swami it was built on land donated by king Hemantsinh of Jinabhai, Darbar of Panchala. On 1 May 1828, Swaminarayan installed the murtis of Ranchhodrai and Trikamrai on the principal altar of the temple, which is 278-foot (85 m) in circumference. The life of Swaminarayan is crafted in stone on the dome of the sanctum. [2] [13] [24] [25]

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Gadhada Edit

The land for the temple in Gadhada (or Gadhpur) was donated by the court of Dada Khachar in Gadhada. Darbar Dada Khachar and his family were devotees of Swaminarayan. The temple was made built the courtyard of his own residence. This shrine has two stories and three domes and is adorned with carvings. Swaminarayan assisted in the construction of the temple by lifting stones and mortar, and he installed the figures of Gopinath, Radhika and Harikrishna on 9 October 1828. [2] [13] [24]

Gadhada is also home to Laxmi Vadi. [26] This is the burial place of Swaminarayan's ashes. The site is marked by a shrine consisting of the idols of brother Ichharam, Swaminarayan himself and Raghuvirji Maharaj.

Other temples Edit

Sahajanand Swami also ordered construction of temples at Muli, Dholka and Jetalpur. Although these temples were completed after his death, the Murti pratishtas, idol installation ceremonies, were conducted by Sahajanand Swami. He installed images of various manifestations of God, such as Nar Narayan Dev, Laxmi Narayan Dev, Radha Krishna, Radha Raman and Revti Baldevji. Swaminarayan lived in Gadhpur for about 27 years he stayed at the Darbar of Dada Khachar, one of his best-known devotees. At some temples, footprints of Swaminarayan are worshiped by his followers. [27] Swaminarayan entrusted the day-to-day performance of the worship rituals in these mandirs to ascetics. [28] By 2012, there were over a thousand Swaminarayan temples across five continents.

Overseas Edit

In the 1920s, members of the sect began to move out of India to East Africa in search of work and better lives. Among these was a large number of Kutchis of the Leva Patel/Patidar community, who remained loyal to the Bhuj temple under the Nar Nararayan Dev Gadi. [29] All the temples built in Africa come under the temple in Bhuj. The first Swaminarayan temple in Africa was built in Nairobi in 1945, [30] and temples were built in Mombasa and other Kenyan towns in the following years. Temples were also built in Tanzania and Uganda. [31] The Swaminarayan temple in Karachi, Pakistan, was built in 1868 when Karachi was part of the Indian Union. [32]

After the Second World War, members of the movement in East Africa began migrating to the United Kingdom the number of migrants rose significantly in the 1960s and 1970s. [33] The first Swaminarayan temple in the UK was built in Bolton in 1973. [34] This was followed by a temple in the London suburb of Willesden, which was consecrated in 1975 and is the sect's biggest temple in the UK. Temples have been built in other parts of the UK, such as Cardiff, Oldham, Leicester and Brighton and several others in London. The temple in Leicester was opened in 1993 and was the first in Europe under the International Swaminarayan Satsang Organisation (ISSO) and was followed by one in Sweden. [35] [36]

A small number of followers migrated to the United States before 1965 as students, and following a 1965 immigration law, a large number of Indians, including members of the sect. moved there from the 1970s until 2000. [33] The ISSO was formed in 1978 in Chicago under the Nar Narayan Dev Gadi. The temple in Weehawken, New Jersey, was opened in 1987, and was the first in the US. [37] By 2012, the organisation had 20 temples in the US, in cities including Boston, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tampa, Florida, Detroit and Cleveland, Ohio, Colonia, Parsippany and Cherry Hill. [38] [39] Another organisation, International Swaminarayan Satsang Mandal (ISSM), under the Laxmi Narayan Dev Gadi, has temples in Chicago, Grand Prairie, Texas, Sunnyvale, California, Downey and Somerset, New Jersey. [40] Also under the Laxmi Narayan Dev Gadi, the Laxminarayan Dev Spiritual Organisation (LDSO) has been set up in San Francisco to promote the faith there. [41] http://www.swaminarayanvadtalgadi.org/temples/temple-international/

The movement also has temples in Australia, Seychelles, Canada, Thailand, Fiji, Mauritius, New Zealand, Oman, UAE and Zambia. [32] [42] [43]


Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, Delhi, New Delhi

The Swami Narayan Akshardham is a Hindu religious and spiritual temple complex housing shrines dedicated in tribute to Pramukh Swami, the head of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, his life and his teachings. The Swami Narayan Akshardham is worshipped by people and revered as a form of God himself. In accordance with the Swami Narayan's principles and teachings, the main temple complex has been classified as the Swaminarayan Akshardham Complex with reference to main Akshardham temple within the complex. It is believed in the Hindu mythology and by the followers of Swaminarayan that after attaining liberation or moksha all souls reside in Akshardham temple.

Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple was built in five years and the colossal devotional efforts of 11,000 artisans and thousands of BAPS volunteers. The Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple is declared the Guinness World Record as the World's Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple and temple complex was inaugurated on 6 November, 2005 (Constructed between from 2000 to 2005).

Swaminarayan Akshardham one of the "Must Visit" places in Delhi. It is one among the top 5 tourist spots of Delhi.

Attractions within the Akshardham Temple includes Sahaj Anand water show, Abhisheka Mandap, the thematic garden and three exhibitions namely Sahajanand Darshan (Hall of Values), Sanskruti Darshan (cultural boat ride) and Neelkanth Darshan (an IMAX film on the early life of Swaminarayan as the teenage yogi, Neelkanth).


History and Legends of Akshardham Temple

Akshardham complex is a Hindu temple that is also known as the Swaminarayan Akshardham temple. The complex has a spiritual cultural centre, museum, fountains, gardens and India’s most beautiful temple. There are three Akshardham temples in the world and the sites are New Delhi, Gandhinagar and New Jersey out of which New Delhi possesses the largest Akshardham temple.

Concept of Akshardham
The akshardham temple is built along the lines of the Swaminarayan temple and is dedicated to promoting peace and harmony. The temple doesn’t promote any one religion but urges followers of all faith to embrace their religions in a positive and constructive way. The teachings and beliefs of Lord Swaminarayan are compiled and represented in this beautiful temple.

The structure is made of a combination of wood, marble stone and sand stone and the temple spreads over 86,342 square feet. The temple is 356 feet long and has a width of 316 feet. Besides possessing exquisite carvings both on the interior and exterior, the temple is built per ancient principles of architecture. The inspiration behind this temple is Pramukh Swami Maharaj who is the spiritual figurehead of “Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha”.

Temple Structure and Associated Legends
The Gajendra peeth is the unique feature of Swaminarayan mandir as it pays homage to elephants symbolising the animal kingdom. The old shilpa Shastra of India stresses on the harmony of man, animal, nature and God and this is depicted through various stories engraved in the panels of Akshardham. Every panel has a message of spiritual faith, social harmony and peace. The 3000-ton heavy Gajendra pith has 148 elephants, 42 animals and birds, 125 human carvings and decorative stone work with a background of creepers, trees and royal palaces.

The Parikrama path is entirely built of red stones and surrounds Akshardham temple like a floral garland. Water flows through 108 Gaumukhs and the holy name of God is chanted creating an aura of divinity and celestial joy. The structure is made with the intent of promoting peace and wellbeing amongst devotees.

The garden has a beautiful lotus formation whose petals are inscribed with messages from renowned personalities and aims to spread the love of God amongst mankind. The gigantic lotus structure encompasses child gems, valiant warriors, national heroes and famous war personalities.

The Yagnapurush Kund inside the complex possesses a combination of Vedic Yagna and a musical fountain. This is the biggest Kund with 2780 steps and 108 shrines and its construction is line with Jayakhya Samhita of Pancharatra scripture. The perfect geometric symmetry is a tribute to India’s advanced mathematical prowess.

The inner sanctum of the temple contains deities of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and gurus of Parampara along with Gods of Sanatan Dharma and 24 Chaturvyuhs.

History of Construction of Akshardham
A team of 8 sages led by Pramukh Swami Maharaj were commissioned to oversee the construction of Akshardham temple. The temple construction was started in 1998 and the architecture was fully based on Pancharatra Shastra that is an ancient Hindu scripture on deities and stone carvings. The inspiration behind the temple came from Angkor Wat, Jagannath Puri, Jodhpur, Bhubaneswar temple of Orissa etc. more than 7000 carvers used 6000 tonnes of pink sandstone to construct the temple and it took over seven years to complete the project.

The opening ceremony took place in 6th November 2005 by Pramukh Swami Maharaj and the temple was dedicated to APJ Abdul Kalam and the nation. The temple made it to Guinness Book of World Records where it won the award of being World’s biggest comprehensive Hindu Temple.

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Contents

Akshardham Mandir Edit

The main attraction of the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex is the Akshardham Mandir. It rises 141-foot (43 m) high, spans 316-foot (96 m) wide, and extends 356-foot (109 m) long. [8] It is intricately carved with flora, fauna, dancers, musicians, and deities.

The Akshardham Mandir was designed by BAPS Swamis and Virendra Trivedi, a member of the Sompura family. [9] [10] [11] It is entirely constructed from Rajasthani pink sandstone and Italian Carrara marble. Based on traditional Hindu architectural guidelines (Shilpa shastras) on maximum temple life span, it makes no use of ferrous metal. Thus, it has no support from steel or concrete. [12]

The mandir also consists of 234 ornately carved pillars, nine domes, and 20,000 murtis of swamis, devotees, and acharyas. [13] The mandir also features the Gajendra Pith at its base, a plinth paying tribute to the elephant for its importance in Hindu culture and India's history. It contains 148 life sized elephants in total weighing a total of 3000 tons. [14]

Under the temple's central dome lies the 11-foot (3.4m) high murti of Swaminarayan seated in abhayamudra to whom the temple is dedicated. Swaminarayan is surrounded by images of the faith's lineage of Gurus depicted either in a devotional posture or in a posture of service. [15] Each murti is made of paanch dhaatu or five metals in accordance to Hindu tradition. The temple also houses the murtis of Sita Ram, Radha Krishna, Shiv Parvati, and Lakshmi Narayan. [15]

Exhibits Edit

Sahajanand Darshan [Hall of Values] Edit

The Hall of Values features life-like robotics and dioramas which display incidents from Swaminarayan's life, portraying his message about the importance of peace, harmony, humility, service to others and devotion to God. Set in 18th century India, the audience experiences eternal messages gleaned from ancient Hindu culture such as non‐violence, vegetarianism, perseverance, prayers, morality, and family harmony through 15 3-dimensional dioramas which make use of state of the art robotics, fibre optics, light and sound effects, dialogues, and music. [16] [17] The hall also features the world's smallest animatronic robot in the form of Ghanshyam Maharaj, the child form of Swaminarayan. [18]

Nilkanth Darshan [Theatre] Edit

The theatre houses Delhi's first and only large format screen, measuring 85-foot (26 m) by 65-foot (20 m). The theatre shows a 40-minute film specially commissioned for the complex, Neelkanth Yatra, to recount a seven-year pilgrimage made by Swaminarayan made during his teenage years throughout India. Mystic India, an international version of the film produced by BAPS Charities, was released in 2005 at IMAX theatres and giant screen cinemas worldwide. [19] A 27-foot (8.2 m) tall bronze murti of Neelkanth Varni is located outside the theatre. [20]

Sanskruti Vihar [Boat Ride] Edit

The Boat Ride is a 12-minute journey through 10,000 years glorious heritage, using life size figures and robotics to depict life in Vedic India, from family life to bazaars and teaching. [21] [22] It also shows the contributions of Vedic Indians to various fields such as science, astronomy, arts, literature, yoga, mathematics, etc. by eminent persons like mathematician-astronomers Aryabhata and Brahmagupta, grammarian Pāṇini, contributors to the ancient art and science of Ayurveda like Sushruta and Charaka, Classical Sanskrit writer Kālidāsa, philosopher, economist and royal advisor Chanakya, among others. It shows the world's first university, Takshashila and the subjects taught there such as horse riding and warfare. It moves on to the Middle Ages to Sufi saints like Kabir and saints from the Bhakti movement such as Meera and Ramananda and then to recent times highlighting the contributions of modern Indian mathematicians such as Jagadish Chandra Bose, Srinivasa Ramanujan, C. V. Raman and Satyendra Nath Bose and philosophers like Swami Vivekananda.

Musical fountain Edit

Musical fountain, also known as the Yagnapurush Kund, is India's largest step well. It features a very large series of steps down to a traditional 'yagna kund'. During the day, these steps provide rest for the visitors to the complex and at night, a musical fountain show named Sahaj Anand - Multi-Media Water Show is shown. Sahaj Anand Water Show is a breathtaking 24-minute presentation which unites a variety of intriguing media to bring to life a story from the Kena Upanishad. Multi-color lasers, video projections, underwater flames, water jets and surround sound in symphony with lights and live actors produce a captivating and inspiring presentation. International experts contributed their expertise with BAPS volunteers and swamis to produce this one-of-a-kind presentation. [23] [24] The fountain is named after the founder of the Hindu organization BAPS, Shastriji Maharaj. [25] The fountain measures 300 feet (91 m) by 300 feet (91 m) with 2,870 steps and 108 small shrines. In its centre lies an eight-petaled lotus-shaped yagna kund designed according to the Jayaakhya Samhita of the Pancharatra shastra.

Garden of India Edit

Also known as the Bharat Upavan, this garden has lush manicured lawns, trees, and shrubs. The garden is lined with bronze sculptures of contributors to India's culture and history. These sculptures include children, women, national figures, freedom fighters, and warriors of India, including notable figures such as Mahatma Gandhi. [26]

The complex is accessible by Delhi Metro. The Akshardham Metro Station is proximate to the complex.

Additional features Edit

Temple Timings Edit

Darshan: 5PM to 6.30PM (Due to COVID, timing has been changed)

Yogi Hraday Kamal Edit

A sunken gardinene, shaped like a lotus when viewed from above, features large stones engraved with quotes from world luminaries ranging from Shakespeare and Martin Luther King Jr. to Swami Vivekananda and Swaminarayan. [26]

Nilkanth Abhishek Edit

Devotees offer abhishek, a ritual of pouring water on to the murti of Nilkanth Varni, and express their reverence and prayers for spiritual upliftment and fulfilment of wishes. [27]

Narayan Sarovar Edit

The Narayan Sarovar is a lake that surrounds the main monument. The lake contains holy waters from 151 rivers and lakes that are believed to have been sanctified by Swaminarayan, including Mansarovar. Surrounding the Narayan Sarovar are 108 gaumukhs, symbolising Janmangal Namavali or the 108 names for god, from which holy water issues forth. [28] [29]

Premvati Ahargruh Edit

The Premvati Ahargruh/the Premvati Food Court is a vegetarian restaurant modelled on the Ajanta and Ellora caves in Maharashtra, India and an Ayurvedic bazaar. The restaurant caters a variety of traditional dishes. [30]

AARSH Centre Edit

The Akshardham Centre for Applied Research in Social Harmony or the AARSH Centre is a centre within the complex that applies research of social harmony and related topics. Scholars and students may conduct practical research through AARSH. Researchers have the ability to carry out their research projects and affiliate their papers with AARSH. Studies on education, medicare, tribal and rural welfare, ecology, and culture are conducted within the centre. [31] [32]

Planning Edit

The building had been planned since 1968 as a vision of Yogiji Maharaj. [33] Yogiji Maharaj, the spiritual head of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha at the time, expressed his desire for wanting a grand temple built on the banks of the Yamuna river to two or three devotee families of Swaminarayan that resided in New Delhi at the time. [34] Attempts were made to start the project, however little progress was made. In 1971, Yogiji Maharaj died.

In 1982, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj's successor as the spiritual head of BAPS, started to continue fulfilling the dream of his guru Yogiji Maharaj and prompted devotees to look into the possibility of building the temple in Delhi. A request for the plan was put forward to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), and several different places were suggested, including Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, and Faridabad. Pramukh Swami Maharaj stood firm in following the wishes of Yogiji Maharaj to build a temple on the Yamuna.

In April 2000, after 18 years, the Delhi Development Authority offered 60 acres (240,000 m 2 ) of land, and the Uttar Pradesh Government offered 30 acres (120,000 m 2 ) for the project. [35] Upon receiving the land, Pramukh Swami Maharaj performed puja on the site for success in the project. Construction on the temple began on 8 November 2000 and Akshardham was officially opened on 6 November 2005, with the building being completed in two days short of five years. [36]

Environmental clearance Edit

An amendment to the Government of India's Environment Impact Assessment Notification of 1994 was made in 2004, which required that environmental clearance be granted to any parcel of land that falls under the Yamuna floodplain before beginning any construction activities. [37] Since Akshardham commenced construction activities in 2000, prior to the enactment of this amendment, it did not apply to Akshardham. [36] However certain NGOs and activists felt that the temple was constructed without obtaining the necessary environmental clearances. [38] On January 2005, the U.P. Employees Federation presented their case before the Supreme Court of India that the temple had not obtained necessary environmental clearances and that it would be harmful to the environment. After hearing the case, the Supreme Court observed that in the construction of Akshardham, all the Land Use Plans had been adhered to and clearance of expert bodies like the Central Water Commission and the National Environment Engineering Research Institute has been obtained. Thus, the Supreme Court ruled that the Akshardham construction was lawful and did not violate environmental norms. [39] [40] Despite this ruling, some activists and politicians continued to assert that the Akshardham construction was illegal and posed a threat to the Yamuna River floodplains. [41] [42] In a 2009 ruling on a related issue, the Supreme Court further clarified that it rejected as false the assertions that Akshardham did not have environmental permissions and was harmful to the Yamuna riverbed. It reiterated its earlier 2005 Ruling that Akshardham had received all necessary environmental permissions from Central Water Commission and NEERI, which is an autonomous body, and that the Akshardham site was not located on the Yamuna “riverbed” or “floodplain”, but 1700 meters away from the Yamuna River bank. [43] [44]

Development Edit

A team of eight swamis were assigned to oversee the Akshardham project. [34] The majority of the team had gained experience from work on the Akshardham in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, Delhi Akshardham's sister complex. [45] During development, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was consulted in many aspects of the monument's construction. [34]

Around 1997 and 1998, the idea to start development on the temple, by beginning the stone carving, had been requested. However, Pramukh Swami Maharaj asserted that the construction should only start after the land was acquired. The initial work done on the site was on the foundation. Initially, the site wasn't considered ideal for construction. As a result, a deep foundation was imperative. To construct a stable foundation, 15-foot (4.6 m) of rocks and sand were entwined with wire mesh and topped by five feet of concrete. Five million fired bricks raised the foundation another 21.5-foot (6.6 m). These bricks were then topped by three more feet of concrete to form the main support under the monument. [34]

On 2 July 2001, the first sculpted stone was laid. [46] The team of eight swamis consisted of scholars in the field of the Pancharatra Shastra, a Hindu scripture on architecture and deity carving. The swamis watched over stonework as well as the research on carvings on Indian craftsmanship from between the eighth and twelfth centuries. This research was done at various sites such as Angkor Wat, as well as Jodhpur, Jagannath Puri, Konark & temples of Bhubaneswar of Odisha and other temples in South India. [34]

Seven thousand carvers and three thousand volunteers were put to work for the construction Akshardham. [34] With over 6,000 tons of pink sandstone coming from Rajasthan, workshop sites were set up around places within the state. [47] Amongst the carvers were local farmers and fifteen hundred tribal women who had suffered from a drought and received economic gain due to this work. The initial stone cutting was done by machine, while the detailed carvings were done by hand. Every night, over one hundred trucks were sent to Akshardham, where four thousand workers and volunteers operated on the construction site. [34]

Opening ceremony Edit

Akshardham was consecrated on 6 November 2005 by Pramukh Swami Maharaj [48] and ceremoniously dedicated to the nation by the President of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, [49] the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Indian Parliament, Lal Krishna Advani, with the presence of 25,000 guests. [34] [50] After touring the central monument, president Kalam then gave a speech on where Akshardham fits within the society, and finished by saying,

"Pramukh Swamiji Maharaj has inspired thousands of people across the country and abroad and brought together the best of the minds for creating a beautiful cultural complex. It has become a place of education, experience and enlightenment. It creatively blends the traditional stone art and architecture, Indian culture and civilisation, ancient values and wisdom and the best of modern media and technology. Multiple layers of this complex express the strength of the mind, willpower of the human being, indomitable spirit, flowering kindness, fusion of scientific and medical talent, myriad colors of varied cultures and ultimately the power of knowledge. In essence, it is a dynamic complex with lively images. . Akshardham has happened at the dawn of the 21st century with the commitment and dedication of one million volunteers. What has happened today at Akshardham inspires me and gives me the confidence that we can do it? The realisation of developed India is certainly possible before 2020 with the millions of ignited minds like you." [51]

Prime Minister Singh followed by hoping that this would usher in religious tolerance and praised the architecture of the complex. [34] He made note of it becoming a future landmark of India [50] while L. K. Advani called it "the most unique monument of the world." [34] Pramukh Swami Maharaj ended the night's speeches and expressed the wish that "In this Akshardham, may one and all find inspiration to mould their lives and may their lives become divine. Such is my prayer to God." [52]

Garbhagruh renovation and other events Edit

On 13 July 2010, a newly designed garbhagruh, or inner sanctum, was inaugurated by Pramukh Swami Maharaj in the main monument within the Akshardham complex. The new garbhagruh includes a decorated, canopied sihasan, upon which the murti of Swaminarayan rests and features intricate carvings and gold-leafed designs. [53]

Akshardham served as a featured attraction during the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi. Through the duration of the Games, hundreds of athletes, teams, and enthusiasts from around the world visited the complex. [54] On 14 November 2010, the Swaminarayan Research Institute at Akshardham was inaugurated through an event organised by the women's faction of the organisation, highlighting the value of seva, or socially beneficial volunteer efforts, in society through mandirs, churches, mosques, and other places of worship. [55]

On 17 December 2007, Michael Whitty, an official world record adjudicator for Guinness World Record, travelled to Ahmedabad, India to present a new world record to Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, for the Akshardham complex. [56]

The record was presented for Akshardham as the World's Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple (certificate). [57] [58]

"BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi, India, is the world's largest comprehensive Hindu temple. It measures 356 ft (109 m). long, 316 ft (96 m). wide and 141 ft (43 m). high, covering an area of 86,342 sq ft (8,021.4 m 2 ). The grand, ancient-style, ornately hand-carved stone temple has been built without structural steel within five years by 11,000 artisans and volunteers. Pramukh Swami, revered spiritual leader of BAPS, consecrated the temple on 6 November 2005. Akshardham showcases the essence of India's ageless art, borderless culture and timeless values. [59]

Upon presentation of the award, Michael Whitty stated, "It took us three months of research, poring over the extensive architectural plans of the Akshardham and also those of other temples of comparable size, visiting and inspecting the site, before we were convinced that Akshardham deserved the title. " [60]

There are three temples, the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai, the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, and the Annamalaiyar Temple in Thiruvannamalai, all located in Tamil Nadu, India, which claim to be larger than Akshardham. The trustees of these temples have reportedly disputed the Guinness World Record. [61]


Swaminarayan Akshardham - History

Concept & Blessings

Sponsorship Opportunities

Online Donations

Tapomurti Nilkanthvarni Murti Sthapan Vidhi will be held at the Swaminarayan Akshardham Complex in Robbinsville, New Jersey in the summer of 2021 (the exact date will be announced later). Please note that this will be a virtual event due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We request that you please select your LOCAL center when donating so that we can ensure that you receive the Puja Vidhi Samagri for this virtual event.

Hinduism has a rich history of ascetics, monks and yogis performing incredible feats of penance and austerities as a means to elevate one’s self and connect to the divine. Nilkanth Varni, Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s youthful yogi form, embodied the principles of yoga and austerity as a spiritual practice to remove attachment from the material world.

At the age of 11, Bhagwan Swaminarayan left the comforts of His home and family, embarking on a seven-year journey that would take him across the length and breadth of India. Nilkanth Varni only had one mission – to help guide spiritual aspirants on the path of ultimate liberation. Like a true yogi, Nilkanth Varni carried with Him few possessions in His 12,000-kilometer trek through the diverse terrain of India – from the frost covered peaks of the Himalayas to the sandy beaches of southern India.

Nilkanth Varni is popularly depicted standing on one foot with both arms firmly raised in the air. This is the stance of a master yogi. For followers of the Swaminarayan faith, the image of Nilkanth Varni in His ‘tap mudra,’ or penance stance, is significant because it showcases the severe penance that Nilkanth Varni underwent for two months and twenty days. On August 29, 1793, Nilkanth Varni arrived at Pulhashram in the Himalayas, known today as Muktinath. At the age of 12, amidst the slashing rains and piercing winds of the monsoon season, Nilkanth Varni held both of His hands high and stood on one leg with His gaze fixed at the tip of His nose, without food or water. It was such moments in Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life, which revealed his divinity and would inspire countless people for ages to come.


Things to Do At Akshardham Temple

Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple Complex is not only about the Akshardham Temple, but it also offers numerous activities and things to do for the visitors and entertain their guests.

Sahajanand Darshan or the Hall of Values

This exhibition hall offers robotic displays of Swaminarayan and has the smallest robot in the world, Ghanshyam Maharaj, the childhood form of Swaminarayan.

The hall has audiovisual displays that teach morals to the visitors and promotes non-violence, vegetarianism, etc. You can spend an hour or so in this hall gaining knowledge about the deity.

Cultural Boat Ride

The cultural boat ride lasts for about 15 minutes. It, with the help of robots, explains the contributions of various people in the courses of study. It also then focuses on the lineage of time, starting from the Takshila University to middle age and then finally the modern age.

Nilkanth Darshan

This is actually an IMAX theatre that runs a 40-minute show on the pilgrimage of Swaminarayan. The show is very informative and can be enjoyed by all visitors.

Yagnapurush Kund or Musical Fountain

The Musical Fountain is actually a stepwell and the largest one in India. During the day, it is used as a resting place for sages and pilgrims, but at night the place hosts a spectacular fountain show that uses actors, lights, water jets, dancing fountains to explain the life of a sage.

Bharat Upavan or The Garden of India

The Bharat Upavan is actually a garden that has numerous bronze sculptures of deities, freedom fighters, leaders and important personalities of our country.


Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple

The Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham complex is a Hindu mandir, and a spiritual-cultural campus in New Delhi, India. Also referred to as Delhi Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham, the complex displays millennia of traditional Hindu and Indian culture, spirituality, and architecture. The temple, which attracts approximately 70 percent of all tourists who visit Delhi, was officially opened on 6 November 2005 by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam] It sits near the banks of the Yamuna adjacent to the 2010 Commonwealth Games village in eastern New Delhi.[6] The temple, at the centre of the complex, was built according to the Vastu shastra and Pancharatra shastra. 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). According to Swaminarayan Hinduism, the word Akshardham means the abode of God and believed by followers as a temporal home of God on earth

About the temple

The main attraction of the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex is the Akshardham Mandir. It rises 141-foot (43 m) high, spans 316-foot (96 m) wide, and extends 356-foot (109 m) long. It is intricately carved with flora, fauna, dancers, musicians, and deities. Designed in accordance with the standards of Maharishi Vastu Architecture, it features a blend of architectural styles across India.It is entirely constructed from Rajasthani pink sandstone and Italian Carrara marble. Based on traditional Hindu architectural guidelines (Shilpa shastras) on maximum temple life span, it makes no use of ferrous metal. Thus, it has no support from steel or concrete.

The mandir also consists of 234 ornately carved pillars, nine domes, and 20,000 murtis of sadhus, devotees, and acharyas. The mandir also features the Gajendra Pith at its base, a plinth paying tribute to the elephant for its importance in Hindu culture and India's history. It contains 148 life sized elephants in total weighing a total of 3000 tons. Under the temple's central dome lies the 11-foot (3.4m) high murti of Swaminarayan seated in abhayamudra to whom the temple is dedicated. Swaminarayan is surrounded by images of the faith's lineage of Gurus depicted either in a devotional posture or in a posture of service. Each murti is made of paanch dhaatu or five metals in accordance to Hindu tradition. The temple also houses the murtis of Sita Ram, Radha Krishna, Shiv Parvati, and Lakshmi Narayan.

Exhibits

Sahajanand Darshan [Hall of Values]

The Hall of Values features lifelike robotics and dioramas which display incidents from Swaminarayan's life, portraying his message about the importance of peace, harmony, humility, service to others and devotion to God. Set in 18th century India, the audience experiences eternal messages gleaned from ancient Hindu culture such as non-violence, vegetarianism, perseverance, prayers, morality, and family harmony through 15 3-D dioramas which make use of state of the art robotics, fibre optics, light and sound effects, dialogues, and music. The hall also features the world's smallest animatronic robot in the form of Ghanshyam Maharaj, the child form of Swaminarayan.

Nilkanth Darshan

The theatre houses Delhi's first and only large format screen, measuring 85-foot (26 m) by 65-foot (20 m). The theatre shows a 40-minute film specially commissioned for the complex, Neelkanth Yatra, to recount a seven-year pilgrimage made by Swaminarayan made during his teenage years throughout India. Mystic India, an international version of the film produced by BAPS Charities, was released in 2005 at IMAX theatres and giant screen cinemas worldwide. A 27-foot (8.2 m) tall bronze murti of Neelkanth Varni is located outside the theatre.

Garden of India

Also known as the Bharat Upavan, this garden has lush manicured lawns, trees, and shrubs. The garden is lined with bronze sculptures of contributors to India's culture and history. These sculptures include children, women, national figures, freedom fighters, and warriors of India, including notable figures such as Mahatma Gandhi. A sunken garden, shaped like a lotus when viewed from above, features large stones engraved with quotes from world luminaries ranging from Shakespeare and Martin Luther King to Swami Vivekananda and Swaminarayan. Devotees offer abhishek, a ritual of pouring water on to the murti of Nilkanth Varni, and express their reverence and prayers for spiritual upliftment and fulfilment of wishes. The Narayan Sarovar is a lake that surrounds the main monument. The lake contains holy waters from 151 rivers and lakes that are believed to have been sanctified by Swaminarayan, including Mansarovar. Surrounding the Narayan Sarovar are 108 gaumukhs, symbolising Janmangal Namavali or the 108 names for god, from which holy water issues forth. The Premati Ahargruh or the Premvati Food Court is a vegetarian restaurant modelled on the Ajanta and Ellora caves in Maharashtra, India and an Ayurvedic bazaar. The restaurant caters a variety of traditional dishes.

Accessibility

FROM AKSHARDHAM METRO STATION
Exit Station and Turn Right
Walk 100 meters and Turn Right
Walk 250 meters & Enter Akshardham - Gate 1

FROM AIRPORT (1HR 30 MINS)
Take Orange Line to New Delhi Metro Station
Disembark at New Delhi Metro Station
Take Yellow Line (toward HUDA City Centre)
Disembark at Rajiv Chowk Metro Station
Take Blue Line (Towards Noida City Centre)
Disembark at Akshardham Metro Station

FROM NEW DELHI RAILWAY STATION (40 MINS)
Walk towards Ajmeri Gate Exit
Walk towards New Delhi Metro Station
Take Yellow Line (toward HUDA City Centre)
Disembark at Rajiv Chowk Metro Station
Take Blue Line (Towards Noida City Centre)
Disembark at Akshardham Metro Station

FROM OLD DELHI RAILWAY STATION (45 MINS)
Walk towards Chandani Chowk Metro Station (350 Meters)
Take Yellow Line (toward HUDA City Centre)
Disembark at Rajiv Chowk Metro Station
Take Blue Line (Towards Noida City Centre)
Disembark at Akshardham Metro Station


Watch the video: Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi (June 2022).


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