India is a land of rituals and religions. Every locality has its temple, every street has its shrine, and every city has its deity. However, a few temples stand out, Akshardham for one. Located at the heart of the country, Delhi, it’s a must-visit even if you aren’t a believer.
On your way to Noida from Delhi, a massive complex on the right side of the road stands tall. It’s one of the best sights in Delhi. If you are planning a trip to Delhi, Akshardham has to be on your bucket list. Well, for all things Akshardham, we are here to help.
Akshardham Temple- Swaminarayan [New Delhi]
Swaminarayan Akshardham, or simply Akshardham, is said to be one of the biggest Hindu temples in the country. The official inauguration of the temple took place on 6th November 2005. Nestled in the middle of the crowded Delhi, it helps visitors get familiar with the rich, 10,000 years old culture of India and Hindu spirituality.
The temple complex commemorates Jyoti Dhar Swaminarayan Bhagwan. The construction of such a massive temple was completed in just five years by the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS). Many volunteers and donors supported the construction with time and funds.
Akshardham is spread across 23 acres, featuring parks, rides, lakes, sculptures, and shrines as well. Everything placed in the complex premises showcases the depth and magnificence of India’s cultural heritage. However, the complex’s main attraction is the temple dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan. The complex is the perfect mix of elite architecture and religious ethos. You are likely to come across volunteers here who have taken the onus of promoting spiritualism and devotion to help visitors realize peace within.
Architectural Marvel: Akshardham
When you look at the complex from the highway, you might experience the urge to explore the temple’s massiveness, stunning beauty, and everything associated with Akshardham.
Akshardham Delhi is architecturally similar to its sister complex, Akshardham temple Gujarat. The entire construction from the ground up was overseen by a team of eight holy men. They were the scholars of Pancharatra Shastra, the study of Hindu scripture on architecture and deity carving. More than 11,000 artisans and construction workers came together from across India to build this one-of-a-kind temple in Delhi.
What makes this temple stand out is the unique construction methodology. It lacks any cement and metal bars to hold the construction. The idea was to create a structure that retains its original form and appeal far into the future, which wasn’t possible with metal and cement. Italian Carrara marble and Rajasthani pink sandstone have been extensively used for construction.
Total 93 pillars hold the ceiling of the temple. Each pillar represents the various cultural and spiritual concepts associated with Hinduism. Along with pillars, you will also find 40 windows carved on either side, adding to their overall aesthetics. Besides, the temple doesn’t promote any specific god. Instead, it suggests you pray to your mentor or someone to whom you owe your existence. That’s perfectly in line with the credo of Hinduism.
There are many stories about Lord Swaminarayan inscribed on the walls. Especially on weekends, the temple draws an influx of tourists seeking peace within and getting intimate with Indian philosophy and way of life. More importantly, the temple holds a Guinness world record for being the world’s largest comprehensive Hindu temple.
Exhibitions To Attend In Akshardham
Akshardham is a site for exhibitions. While entry to the temple is free, you require paying a modest fee to visit the exhibitions. More on the fee later but first let’s have a look at the exhibitions available.
1. Sahajanand Darshan (Exhibition Hall 1)
This exhibition focuses on showcasing the values of Indian culture, such as perseverance, morality, and nonviolence. In this hall, you will find animatronic figures that move and some other multimedia technologies to enhance your experience. Also, the hall contains 3D dioramas and immersive projections used to showcase the Hindu way of life.
- Duration: 1 Hour
- Language: Hindi & English
2. Neelkanth Darshan (Exhibition Hall 2)
This is the IMAX theater, where you get to see a 40-minute movie on a giant screen. The film is about the journey of the spiritual and cultural beauty of India. The story revolves around the pilgrimage taken by Lord Swaminarayan in his teenage years to find out more about the culture of India. If you don’t understand Hindi, you can use headphones for English commentary.
- Duration: 40 minutes
- Language: Hindi
3. Sanskruti Darshan (Exhibition Hall 3)
How about a boat ride where you get intimate with India’s history and culture? Well, your wish is granted. There are several exhibits to enjoy on this boat ride, including Vedic marketplace, a classroom from Takshashila University, which is considered to be the first university in the world. You can get the English commentary on request.
- Duration: 15 Minutes
- Language: Hindi
Things To Do In Akshardham
Given below are the top 10 things you should do when you are visiting Akshardham in Delhi.
- Don’t miss the musical fountain event, which takes place every night after the sun goes down. The fountain ceremony depicts the messages of the Upanishads.
- You can also watch a short movie in the IMAX theater located inside the complex.
- Prefer visiting the ten gates located inside the temple, which depicts the ten principal directions involved in a human’s life. Information on what each gate represents can be read on the notice board placed alongside it.
- See Bhakti Dwar, which means a gate of devotion. Enter the Bhakti Dwar to feast your eyes with 208 different sculptures of the dual form of God.
- See the footprints of Lord Swaminarayan in the temple. Plus, you can find the 11 feet high and gold-plated sculpture of Swaminarayan.
- Sanskruti Vihaar is a 15-minute boat ride that takes you through 10,000 years of Indian culture presented on the banks of river Sarasvati. Also, you get to know about the oldest Vedic village in the world, the world’s first university, and more.
- Narayan Sarovar has the holy water of 151 rivers, lakes, and Stepwells brought from all over India. These 151 places are the ones frequented by Lord Swaminarayan. The water flows in Narayan Sarovar from 108 Gaumukhs that surround the Akshardham monument.
Unknown Facts About Akshardham
Here’s your rundown on the lesser-known facts about Akshardham, which might surprise you.
- The temple has 200 stone sculptures of Indian sages along with monks, Acharyas, and other divine incarnations that lived in India. Also, the temple has 234 ornately carved pillars, nine domes, Gajendra Pith, and more than 20,000 divine figures that walked on the land of India at different points in time.
- The temple is surrounded by the Narayan Sarowar, a lake with a 3,000 feet long orbital path for Parikarma. The pathway is made up of red stones brought from Rajasthan. The Parikrama path resembles a garland in shape.
- From the above, you can see a Lotus made from large stones. The leaves of this stone Lotus have quotes from Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, Swami Vivekananda, and other notable individuals who changed the world. This garden is known as the Lotus garden.
- The temple has Yagnapurush Kund, the largest Yagna Kund in the world. It has 108 small shrines and 2870 steps leading to the Kund.
- In the “Garden of India”, also known as Bharat Upavan, several bronze statues of significant public figures greet you. These statues celebrate real-life heroes with a significant contribution to the nation and the world at large.
- Akshardham entertains more than 100,000 visitors a week. Over 850 volunteers work here daily to help visitors explore this massive temple.
Things To Keep In Mind When Visiting Akshardham Delhi
- It’s open from 9:30 Am to 8:00 Pm. The temple is closed on Mondays.
- For the light show at night, ensure reaching the temple by 6:00 Pm. The gate closes at 6:30 Pm.
- The timings for attending the Aarti are 10:00 Am and 6:30 Pm.
- Entry to the temple is free.
- The exhibition fee is INR 220 for adults, INR 170 for senior citizens, and INR 120 for children below 12. These exhibition fees are inclusive of all three exhibitions.
- The exhibition ticket timings range from 10:00 to 7:00 Pm.
- You can reach this temple via road and Delhi metro. You need to stop at Akshardham metro station for the Delhi metro.
- There is no dress code, but both men and women are required to dress modestly and wear below knee-length bottoms.
People are also reading: