Saturday, September 26, 2009

Akshardham Temple is a magnificent Hindu shrine, situated in the east region of New Delhi. Located on the banks of River Yamuna, it was inaugurated in November 2005, by the former President of India - APJ Abdul Kalam, the Prime Minister - Manmohan Singh and Pramukh Swami Maharaj - the spiritual leader of BAPS. Pramukh Swami Maharaj is the current spiritual leader of Swaminarayan Sanstha, BAPS. Swaminarayan Akshardham was constructed under his guidance, after his guru, Yogiji Maharaj, expressed a wish for the same.

As a spiritual leader, Swamiji constantly travels and meets people across the world, to help them lead better lives. There are various cultural and educational activities conducted by the Swaminarayan Sanstha. Akshardham is also a part of BAPS's initiative to promote Indian art, culture and values. BAPS also has a charitable arm, known as BAPS Care, working for the betterment of the people. The main shrine in the complex is dedicated to Bhawgwan Swaminarayan.

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The temple enshrines 11 ft tall gilded statue of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. The building is constructed entirely from Pink Sandstone and Italian Marble, without any concrete or steel. The intricate carvings, magnanimous structure and the backdrop of River Yamuna, render the temple a masterpiece of art. Other than the main temple, there are a number of buildings in the complex where you can enjoy cultural and spiritual activities.

The Halls

'Sahajanand Pradarshan' is the first Hall in the complex. It features life size robots, dioramas, and incidents from Bhagwan Swaminarayan's life. It also houses world's smallest animatronic robot, in the form of Ghanshyam Maharaj, the child form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

'Nilkanth Kalyan Yatra', Hall 2, houses a large format screen. Here, a movie, specially commissioned for the complex, shows the journey of Bhagwan Swaminarayan throughout India.

'Sanskruti Vihar', Hall 3, takes visitors on a journey through 10,000 years of Indian history in 10 minutes. Visitors are seated in specially designed peacock boats that make their way around an artificial river.

The Yagnapurush Kund
The Yagnapurush Kund is India's largest step well. It descends down, via a series of steps, to a traditional 'yagna kund'. At night, a musical fountain show, representing the circle of life, is played for an audience, seated on the same steps.

The Bharat Upavan
The Bharat Upavan, or 'Garden of India', has sprawling lawns, varied trees and shrubs, dotted with bronze sculptures of the contributors to India's culture.

The Yogi Hraday Kamal
It is a lotus shaped garden, containing stones engraved with quotes from world luminaries, ranging from Shakespeare and Martin Luther King, to Swami Vivekananda and Bhagwan Swaminarayan.

The temple which depicts the Hindu mythology and Indian culture promises to attract lakhs of tourists’ every year with its religious tourism. Build over an area of 100 acres on the banks of the Yamuna River, it took more than 2 years for construction and costed around Rs.2 billion, funded by millions of Bochasanvasi Aksharpurushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) followers worldwide. The temple has 234 ornate pillars, 20,000 statues and many arches. Besides the Swaminarayan temple the complex consists of the main monument, exhibition halls, an IMAX theatre and a musical fountain, surrounded by a garden. It also got a restaurant modeled on the Ajanta and Ellora caves and an Ayurvedic bazaar.

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.

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