We tend to think of ancient structures that have stood for years and represent humanity’s historical journey when we think of architectural wonders, but that’s not the case. Many breathtaking modern architectural wonders have been built in this decade that leave in awe all of their visitors. In this post, the spotlight will turn to the Akshardham Temple in New Delhi, India. This place of worship opened its doors in November 2005, and today attracts over 70% of the tourists who visit New Delhi. The Swaminarayan Akshardham complex is the beacon for religious congregation in New Delhi and stands as a complex that is known as a Hindu mandir. A Mandir has the intention of creating a meeting place for gods and humans and uses different types of symbolisms to express Hindu ideas and beliefs, which date back to Vedic traditions.
Some of the symbolic elements that are included are dharma, artha, moksha, kama and karma. The first four are known as Puruṣārtha and are instilled in the architecture of every standing worship place for the Hindu faith. Dharma, for instance, represents the correct way of living, demonstrating that everything is in order with the universe. Artha is the meaning of life, or goals that a person sets for themselves that allow a person to take on certain activities that can help them accomplish them. Moksha is on the contrary the release or freedom a persona may obtain in their lifetime. This could make reference to the freedom from the circle of life through reincarnation, or simply to the “freedom from ignorance”, which is the ability to recognize one’s self. Kama, the last one of the four goals that make part of the Hindu faith, means to pursue the longing or desire of the sexual nature. That pure enjoyment of life and love is the essence of this fourth goal. Finally, you have Karma, which refers more to the cause and effect that a life can have, which will always reflect the state of the original action. Good actions with a pure heart will bring about happiness and good karma, whereas as actions that have been done with bad intentions will bring suffering. The Akshardham Temple is no exception and it contains all of these elements with such architectural grace that it is known around the world for its glorious complex, architecture and gardens.
The complex is located in Yamuna, New Delhi and follows the Vastu shastra, texts containing the traditional blueprints of Hindu architecture including details such as measurements and space arrangement, and the Pancharatra shastra. The name of the temple refers to the home of God and in the hindu religion it is believed by the disciples of this faith that this is a temporary home for God here on earth. In its 8,000 square feet, you’ll find an Abhisheka Mandap, a garden that is known for its bronze statues and extensive lawns with large trees and series of shrubs. There can be up to three exhibitions at a time on the grounds. Visitors can also admire the Sahaj Anand water show, which is featured at India’s largest step well. The Neelkanth Darshan theater shows a movie that portrays the teen yogi, Swami Narayan, in his early. Another beautiful experience for any visitor is the Sanskruti Darshan, which is a cultural boat ride that in its 15-minute ride takes you on a journey that will through life-size robotics and figures play out the intrinsic details of 10,000 years of heritage. Throughout this tour, it also pays homage to those scholars who contributed to Vedic Indians in a lot of fields.
This temple, not only falls in line with all of the traditional architectural and religious beliefs of Hindus but also incorporates technical modern elements that make it truly unique. One of the things that also makes it stand out is the materials with which is was built, absolutely no steel was used in its construction. The structure was inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, and the construction was done by almost 7,000 artisans who received help from nearly 3,000 volunteers.
Additionally, in 2007 it was recognized by the Guinness World Record as the “World’s Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple”. This did not come without some debate though because once the news was out about this recognition at least three temples, all located in one of the cities of India, immediately refuted the fact that it was the largest and disputed the recognition. Despite this, it is still recognized worldwide as a truly incredible example of modern architecture and the possibilities when combining tradition and modern technology in one same location.
Those who love religious architectural buildings will also enjoy reading about St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow Red Square, on the Kenny Slaught WordPress page.