Akshardham Temple, New Delhi
The Akshardham Temple Complex in Delhi is the recent addition made to the tourist attraction list of Delhi. The Temple built near the Akshardham Flyover in the East Delhi area, is one of the finest structures built in the modern India.The complex is considered as one of the wonders of modern India. The complex is spread over swooping 30 acres on the banks of the river Yamuna near Noida in East Delhi. The Akshardham monument or temple is one of the biggest worship places in India. Built with sandstone and mable the monument is a remakable architectural feat achieved, with several architectural temple styles.
The palace-like monument is built of at least 12,000 tons of pink sandstone and white marble brought in from Rajasthan. The temple consists of 234 intricately carved and ornated pillars. Roofed by 9 ornated domes in all the temple stands well above 129 feet high, 275 feet wide and 315 feet long.. The temple consists of 20 Shikhars and a spectacular Gajendra Pith (plinth of stone elephants). The temple houses 20,000 statues of Hindu dieties and motifs. The construction of temple took five years and The estimated Rs.400-crore cultural complex, inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), will be popular for the cultural education and entertainment”. The temple complex has drawn inspiration for its architecture from the historic temples of Badrinath (Uttaranchal), Somnath (Gujarat) and Konark (Orissa). It is the second Akshardham complex in the country after the one at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
Besides the grand monument the complex has two huge exhibition halls meant for visual journey of tourists through India’s cultural heritage and Indian moral values. The complex also houses an Imax cinema, a canteen which can accommodate a maximum of 5,000 people at one sitting, a research centre for “social harmony” and meditation gardens with fountains and bronze sculptures. Ghaziabad, Noida,Faridabad and Gurgaon are some of the nearest cities of Swaminarayan Akshardham Complex.
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.
Built without using a a single piece of steel, the Temple consists of 234 ornately carved pillars, 9 ornate domes, 20 quadrilateral shikaras along with a spectacular Gajender Pith with plinth of elephants carved on the stones. The Temple consists of 20, 000 statues or murthis of the various Hindu Deity and also includes the statues of the noble sadhus, devotees and eminent personalities. Erected out from a fusion of pink stone and white marbles the temple symbolises shakti and eternal bloom with complete purity and peace.The Akshardhanm temple was created to honour the fulfilment of the wishes of the Guru Brahmaswarup Yogiji Maharaj, the fourth successor in the spiritual hierarchy of Bhagwan Swaminarayan .A lot of hard working and endeavour was seen on the part of Pramukh Swami Maharaj the follower of the Swamiji in giving final shape to the temple. The massive piece of architecture is of height 141.3ft with a width of 316 ft having a length of 356 feet.
The majestic Temple proudly carries 9 huge domes with 234 pillars where around 20,000 carvings of the great munis, deities and the celestial creatures are carved. Almost 500 status of Paramhansas of the Swaminarayan and many statues of devotees, birds and animals are embellished and carved on the walls The interiors showcase 8 more small madapams.
The external wall of the temple is the largest intricately carved Mandovar in the whole of India. The Mandovar consists of 200 sculptured stone figures of India’s great rishis and the devotees. Created with Gajstar, Sinstar and Chhhajja, the temple has 4287 carved stones with 48 carved statues of the Deity of Lord Ganesh.
The Gajendra pith is, presented in three styles Elephant and Nature, Elephant and Man, Elephant and Divine. The vedic mantras are depicted on the piths. The pith pays tribute to elephants,which symbolizing the entire animal kingdom.. Every panel reflects the messages of social harmony, peace and spiritual faith. The Gajendra Pith is of 3,000 tons having 148 full-sized elephants, 42 birds and animals. It also has 125 human sculptures and embellished stone backdrops of royal palaces.
Devotees in thousands throng the temple premise to offer abhishek, the ritual of pouring of water to the sacred murti of Neelkanth Varni and express their reverence and prayers for peace, spiritual blessings and fulfilment of their wishes.
Places of Interest
Birla Mandir – Birla Mandir is commonly known as Lakshmi Narayan Temple. It is a famous Hindu temple, constructed in the year 1938 by Raja Baldev Das Birla and Mahatama Gandhi inaugurated it. You can visit the popular pilgrimage destination of Birla Mandir, the shrine that is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu and is located in the heart of Delhi. People of all religion and faiths can worship in the temple but one can enter the temple only bare foot. The temple incorporates numerous images and idols depicting several gods and goddess of Indian mythology. Durga and Shiva are the other major deities in the Birla Mandir temple
Lotus Temple – It is a lotus shaped structure made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand. The temple is located in Kalkaji in the south of Delhi. You can visit the Lotus Temple on your tour to New Delhi. The temple is open to all faiths and is an ideal place for meditation and obtaining peace and tranquility. It is a very recent architectural marvel of the Bahai faith.The strange thing is that this temple has no Idol and religious texts related to all religions are read inside the temple one by one. The lotus shape of the temple represents the Manifestation of God, and is also a symbol of purity and tenderness. Its significance is deeply rooted in the minds and hearts of the Indians. In the epic poem Mahabharata, the Creator Brahma is described as having sprung from the lotus that grew out of Lord Vishnu’s navel when that deity lay absorbed in meditation, there is a deep and universal reverence for the lotus, which is regarded as a sacred flower associated with worship throughout many centuries.
Iskcon Temple – Built on a hilly place in 1998, the ISKCON Temple is a complex of temples. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, this elegant temple is one of the largest temple complexes in India. It has a large number of Hare-Rama Hare-Krishna followers.
Chattarpur Temple – It is located beyond the Qutb Minar in Mehrauli. This temple dedicated to Goddess Durga, is built in the South Indian style. The temple complex is spread over a large area with beautiful lawns and gardens. Though devotees visit this temples throughout the year, the main festival is celebrated during Navarathri. Special bus service is provided to the devotees during the festival.
Bala Hanuman Temple – This small but elegant temple located at Baba Kharak Singh Marg near Connaught Place was built in 1724. It is very popular among the devotees of Lord Hanuman. The 24-hour chanting of the mantra ‘Sri Ram, Jai Ram, Jai Jai Ram’, since August 1, 1964, has earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
Gauri Shankar temple – Tucked behind fragrant mounds of marigolds, roses and jasmine blossoms sold on Chandni Chowk just west of the Jain temple, the large marble Gauri Shankar temple, dominated by its eight-hundred-year-old lingam, is Delhi’s holiest Shiva temple. Devotees enter up a narrow flight of marble steps, flanked by pillars carved with chains and bells, that opens onto a spacious courtyard, always a scene of animated devotional activity. Inside, offerings for sale include bilva (wood apple) leaves, chandan (sandalwood paste), marigolds, red powder, rice, and cotton threads. The main sanctuary holds bejewelled statues of Gauri (Parvati) and Shankar (Shiva) standing beneath a silver canopy, and the ancient brown stone lingam resting on a marble yoni encased in silver and draped with silver serpents. Shrines to other deities line the south wall.
Aurobindo Ashram – This ashram at Aurobindo Marg, is a centre for yoga and meditation. The main ashram is at Pondicherry. Products like handmade paper, incense sticks, etc. are available here.
Digambara Jain temple and Jain Bird Hospital – Delhi’s oldest Digambara Jain temple, directly opposite the entrance to the Red Fort, at the east end of Chandni Chowk, was built in 1526, but has been modified and added to ever since, and remains a haven of tranquillity amid the noise and chaos of the main street. Though not as ornate as the fine temples in Gujarat and Rajasthan, it does boast detailed carvings, and gilded paintwork in the antechambers surrounding the main shrine to Parshvanath, the twenty-third tirthankara. You’ll have to remove your shoes, and hand them over with your bags and all leather articles to a kiosk before entering.
Getting there and Around
By Air – Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport is connected to all the important cities of the world with almost all the major international airlines operating out of here. Palam Domestic Airport connects Delhi to the major cities in India.
By Rail – The Indian Railway with their modern and organized network connects Delhi to all major and minor destinations in India. The city has three major railway stations at New Delhi, Old New Delhi, and Nizamuddin. Luxury trains like the Palace-on-Wheels, Fairy Queen, and Royal Orient Express can be taken from New Delhi Cantonment railway station. Rajdhani Express trains connect New Delhi from the state capitals. Shatabdi Express trains connect New Delhi to the neighboring cities.
By Road – Delhi is well connected to all the major cities of India by a network of highways and roads. Buses can be taken from the three Inter State Bus Terminuses (ISBT), at Kashmere Gate, Sarai Kale Khan and Anand Vihar, as well as many starting points in and around the city, from which various state-managed and privately run transport facilities like airconditioned, deluxe and ordinary coaches operate
Best way to travel in Delhi – For travel in Delhi there are buses, the Metro train, auto-rickshaws and cycle- rickshaws. Tourist taxis ply interstate while the yellow and black taxis can be used to commute anywhere within the city and are safe but relatively expensive. Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses go anywhere in the city and are the cheapest mode of transport. Auto rickshaws are another option, but it is always important to bargain for a reasonable fare. Luxurious special tourist buses are also available with packaged tours to all the tourist attractions in Delhi.The recently introduced Delhi Metro railway line is a convenient and efficient mode of transport connecting all major places within the city.
There are thousands of hotels in Delhi, so, accommodation can’t be a problem.Some of the best hotels that provide comfort and luxury to the visitors coming to the Akshardham temple are the Ashoka hotel in the heart of the city, the Centaur Hotel near the airport and Holiday inn Crown plaza in Connaught Plaza and the Hyatt Regency. All of these hotels are star category hotels and provides good services.
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