Lotus Temple, New Delhi

lotustemple

Located in Kalkaji in the south of Delhi, it is lotus shaped and has rightly been given the name. Its also known as Bahai Temple.It is made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand. It 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. Lotus temple signifies peace and purity. Lotus is the manifestation of God. The pure lotus rising above the stag anent and muddy waters is the symbol of detachment from material things. Lotus is deeply attached to the mythology and culture of Hinduism. Visitors to Lotus Temple have admired the teachings of Bahai Faith and have also liked the structure of the temple.

Contrary to popular belief, the Lotus temple is not a temple but a prayer hall of Bahai Faith. Located near the famous ISKCON and Kalka Ji temple, this structure is famous throughout the world for its manifestation in design. This is supposed to be the only worship place of the Bahai faith in Asia. The maintainer of this place stresses on keeping quiet. So if you are a chatter-box and can’t shut your mouth, Lotus Temple, the most visited place in India after Taj Mahal, is out of bound for you.

The structure is situated in the sprawling lush-green 26 acres campus. The building was commissioned in the year 1980 to an Iranian architect named Fariburz Sabha and was completed in the year 1986. It was opened for the general public in the same year. The temple is set among numerous pools and a sprawling garden. This has been deliberately done in order to create a feel that this Big Lotus is floating in a pond. The Lotus, as seen from outside or from airplane, has three sets of petals. These petals are made of special concrete mould in white cement and decorated with white marble. These stones were brought from all over the world including the famous Mount Olympus in Greece and Macedonia.The temple rises 40m (roughly 125 feet) high and is constructed mostly of white marble.These 27 giant petals in the shape of a half opened lotus rise from 9 ponds simbolizing the 9 spiritual paths in the Baha’i faith.Completed in 1986, the Lotus temple became a prominant feature on Delhi’s tourist circuit, both for locals and visitors.The Bahai’ faith, practiced by the followers of Baha’ullah came into being only as late as 19th Century. The religion believes in oneness of god, and focuses on prayer and meditation.In a country with 5000 years of history and religious and spiritual depths that have no floor, a modern religion with a new monument surprised a lot of people, but the choice of a lotus (a flower very significant in Hindu tradition) as the temple’s architecture was an instant attraction.There are 7 main Baha’i houses of worship in the world today, including one in Wilmette IL, just outside of Chicago. The seven temples are very different in their architecture and construction, but all share 9 sides and a central meditation hall.The temple in Delhi requires visitors to take their shoes off before going up the stairs to the main entrance. This perhaps is to be like Hindu temples which also require footware to be taken off. The temple in Wilmette has a board in the lawns that states “No shoes, no shirts, no service.” Lack of its own rules and principles in the Baha’i faith? Perhaps. But its flexibility makes it more appealing to the locals of where ever they exist.

The Bahai faith is an off shoot of Islam and thus is heavily inspired from the basic tenets of Islam such as monotheism. You will not find any Idol in the temple. It is just a hall to pray and salvage. There is an Information Center at the Bahai House of Worship that provides information on different facets of the Bahai Faith in the form of photographs, books, miniature and short films.

Visiting Hours

Bahai Temple is closed on Mondays.
Summer (1 April – 30 September) -> 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Winter (1 October – 31 March) -> 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

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

Chattarpur Temple – Read Details here

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.

Akshardham Temple – Read Details here

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.

Accommodation

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 Delhi 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. Budget hotels are available in Karol bagh and Paharganj area of Delhi.

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