The Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi
- 1 The Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi
- 1.1 Akshardham Delhi History
- 1.2 Significance of the Akshardham Delhi Temple
- 1.3 Akshardham Delhi Temple Timings
- 1.4 Dress Code at Akshardham Delhi
- 1.5 Festivals celebrated at the Akshardham Delhi Temple
- 1.6 Poojas and Rituals at Akshardham Delhi
- 1.7 How to reach Akshardham Delhi
- 1.8 Where to stay
- 1.9 Where to eat
- 1.10 Nearby Temples
The gigantic and mesmerizing Akshardham Temple located on the banks of River Yamuna in New Delhi is a visual treat for visitors. Akshardham Delhi Complex has been developed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS). Akshardham Delhi is dedicated to Sri Swaminarayan, the deity worshiped in the Swaminarayan sect of Hinduism. This sect is a sub-sect of Vaishnava Hinduism and has its origins in Gujarat. Followers of this sect believe that Swaminarayan is an avatar of the Nara Narayana who performed penance at Badarikashram. They believe that Narayana took rebirth as Swaminarayan to destroy evil and establish “Ekantik-Dharma”- a religion based on morality, knowledge, detachment and devotion.
Akshardham Delhi Complex begins with the visit to the ten stone gates that signify the ten directions. The pilgrim then passes through the Bhakti Dwar (Gate of Devotion), the Visitor Centre and the Mayur Dwar (Peacock Gate). Between these two gates, the Charnarving (holy footprints) of Sri Swaminarayan is located. The main attraction of the complex is the Akshardham Mandir. The 141 feet high, 316 feet wide and 356 feet long Rajasthani pink stone structure presents an imposing view fit to be called as the Abode of God (Akshardham). Akshardham Delhi has two circumambulation paths – the Narayan Peeth and the Gajendra Peeth. The Gajendra Peeth depicts the legends and the importance of Elephants in the Hindu culture.
The inner sanctum or the Garbhagruh is home to the Sri Swaminarayan and his succession of Gurus. Special shrines are also dedicated to Sri Sita-Ram, Radha-Krishna, Lakshmi-Narayan, and Shiv-Parvati. The nine intricately carved mandaps depicting stories of the life of Sri Swaminarayan are an architectural wonder.
Akshardham Delhi Complex also runs three exhibitions, each imparting knowledge, and wisdom to the visiting devotees. The exhibitions are the Sahajanand Darshan, Neelkanth Darshan, and Sanskruti Vihar. The Sahajanand Darshan is a visual portrayal of Hindu Cultural values like peace, perseverance, morality, family harmony, vegetarianism, and non-violence. The Neelkanth Darshan takes the visitors through an epic journey of the young Neelkanth across the Indian Subcontinent. The Sanskruti Vihar is a 15-minute boat ride that takes us past the glorious history of India in from the Vedic times till now. It highlights contributions of important personalities in various fields like philosophy, mathematics, art, music, economics and religious movements. Besides these, the Yagnapurush Kund, Garden of India and the Yogi Hriday Kamal are must visit features of the Temple Complex.
Akshardham Delhi History
- The Akshardham Delhi was the vision of Yogiji Maharaj in 1968. Yogiji Maharaj was the fourth successor of Swaminarayan, worshiped in the Swaminarayan sect of Hinduism. His vision was to build a grand temple dedicated to Sri Swaminarayan on the banks of River Yamuna. However, his wish could not be realized before he passed away.
- In 1982, Pramukh Swami Maharaj put forward a request to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). In 2000, the DDA offered 60 acres of land and the Uttar Pradesh Government offered 30 acres of land. The construction was started on 8 November 2000 and was officially completed on 6 November 2005.
- The Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple was inaugurated on 6 November 2005 by the honorable Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
- As per the sect of Swaminarayan in Vaishnava Hinduism, the origin of the sect begins with the Nara-Narayana (twin brothers) avatar of Lord Vishnu. The Hindu Mahabharata identifies God Krishna with Narayana and Arjuna with Nara (the human among the twins). The followers of the Swaminarayan faith believe that Swaminarayan is an incarnation of Narayana.
Significance of the Akshardham Delhi Temple
- The architecture of the Bhakti Dwar and the Mayur Dwar are mesmerizing. The Bhakti Dwar is intricately carved and possesses sculptures of several Gods and Goddesses like Lakshmi-Narayan, Akshar-Purushottam, Parvati-Shiv, Sita-Ram, Radha-Krishna, Nar-Narayan and many more. The Mayur Dwar has 869 carved images of Peacocks welcoming visitors. It is believed that Peacock stands for Beauty and Self-Control in Indian Culture.
- The architectural style of the Temple Complex is a blend of several styles from across India. As per the traditional Hindu Shilpa Shastras, no ferrous material has been used for its construction. The structure receives no support from steel or concrete.
- The majestic structure of the Akshardham Mandir consists of 234 carved pillars, nine domes, Gajendra Pith (base of the structure carved with 148 elephants together weighing 3000 tons) and about 20,000 sculptures of Sadhus, Acharyas, and devotees.
- The external surface or the wall of a traditional stone temple is called a Mandovar. The external surface area of the Akshardham Temple is the largest carved Mandovar in India in the last 800 years.
- The Narayan Sarovar that surrounds the Temple is unique as it consists water from 151 rivers and lakes believed to have been sanctified by Sri Swaminarayan. Some of the rivers, lakes and sangams are – Mansarovar, Pushkar Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar, Indradyumna Sarovar, Manikarnika Ghat, Prayag, River Ganga, River Yamuna, River Shipra and many more.
- The Temple has been adjudged as the “World’s Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple” in the Guinness World Records. However, the record is being contested by three temples – the Madurai Meenakshi Temple, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam and the Annamalaiyar Temple in Thiruvannamalai. They argue that these three temples are as big as the Akshardham and are actually temples where the worship of God is carried out.
- The Neelkanth Darshan exhibition is the first large format film on India, made by an Indian Organization, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. The theater houses New Delhi’s first and only large format screen.
- The Yagnapurush Kund is India’s largest step well. The Stepwell means a series of steps, artistically arranged going down towards the centrally placed Yagna Kund. The Yagna Kund is Lotus shaped.
Akshardham Delhi Temple Timings
- The Temple Complex opens at 9:30 AM and the last entry allowed into the complex is at 6:30 PM.
- The Temple remains closed on every Monday.
- The Temple or the Mandir is open from 9:30 AM to 8 PM. The Aarti is performed at 10 AM and 6 PM.
- The Abhishek Mandap is open from 9:30 AM to 8 PM. The Aarti is performed at 6:30 PM.
- The Ticket window of the Exhibition remains open from 10 AM till 5 PM.
- The Water Show usually starts at 7:15 PM after the sunset.
Dress Code at Akshardham Delhi
The Temple follows a general dress code as per which the upper wear of both men and women should cover shoulders, chest, navel and upper arms. The temple allows pants and shorts as long as they are below the knee-length. In case, the dress of the visitor is deemed inappropriate, a sarong is provided free of cost.
Festivals celebrated at the Akshardham Delhi Temple
The Temple is decorated and lit with lights on occasions like Diwali, Navaratri, and Janmashtami
Poojas and Rituals at Akshardham Delhi
Abhishek – Devotees can perform the ceremony of ritual bathing known as Abhishek of the idol of Neelkanth Varni, the youthful form of Sri Swaminarayan. The ritual involves tying a sacred thread on the wrist followed by the recital of shlokas and mantras. After the Pooja, the devotee performs the Abhishek with a pot of sanctified water.
How to reach Akshardham Delhi
- By Air – The Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi is situated at a distance of 21 km from Akshardham. One can take a taxi to reach Akshardham. The Public Bus number 534 connects Akshardham to the Airport. However, public bus transport is not recommended for visitors with more luggage to carry. Alternatively, one can take the Orange Metro Line to reach New Delhi Metro Station. Take the yellow line from the station to reach the Rajiv Chowk Station. Finally, take the blue line to reach the Akshardham Metro Station.
- By Train – The capital city of New Delhi is well connected to all parts of the country. The city has a network of small local railway stations with three major railway stations dispersed throughout the city. They are New Delhi Junction, Hazrat Nizamuddin and Old Delhi Railway Station. These stations are situated 11 km, 6 km and 10 km away respectively from the Akshardham Temple. Several city buses connect these stations to Akshardham Temple.
- By Road – The Kashmiri Gate Bus Stand is situated 13 km away from the Akshardham Temple and is well-connected by buses as well as Metro to the Temple. The buses from Haryana and Rajasthan stop here. The Sarai Kale Khan bus stand is located just 5.5 km from the Temple complex. The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses connect these two bus stands to Akshardham. The Anand Vihar Terminal is located 11 km from the Temple. Buses arriving from the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand halt here.
Where to stay
New Delhi is a metropolitan and a cosmopolitan city that boasts a large array of hotels ranging from basic lodges to seven-star hotels. Akshardham is situated near residential colonies. However, important business areas like Noida are located nearby. They provide a large range of options for a comfortable stay.
Where to eat
The Premvati Food Court is open inside the Temple Complex. The ambiance of the food court resembles the Ajanta and Ellora caves. Pure vegetarian cuisine, as well as Continental cuisine, is served to the devotees at nominal rates.
The city offers a wide range of culinary delights. Some of the must haves when visiting Delhi are the Kebabs at Karims, Chaats at Chandni Chowk, South Indian delights at Saravana Bhavan, and the Biryanis at the Hyderabad House. The city is famous for sweets like Jalebis and Barfis. Several restaurants serve a variety of cuisines like Mughlai, Hyderabadi, South Indian, Punjabi, Chinese, Italian, Thai, and much more.
- Uttara Swami Malai Mandir – The Temple is located in Ramakrishna Puram (RK Puram) Sector-7. The shrine is popularly known as the Malai Mandir, Malai meaning Hill in Tamil. The Temple is dedicated to Lord Karthikeya and is constructed following the Chola architecture. The main sanctum is located atop a hill. Apart from the main shrine, Lord Vinayaka, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are also worshiped here.
- Birla Mandir – The Temple also known as the Laxminarayan Mandir is situated on Mandir Marg. The Temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. The main shrine is dedicated to Lord Swaminarayan, another name of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi. The other shrines are dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and Buddha. The Temple was built by the legendary B.R Birla.
- Hanuman Temple – The unique and ancient temple is situated in Connaught Place, Delhi. The Temple is believed to be one of the five ancient shrines in Delhi whose importance can be dated back to the epic Mahabharata. The idol of the presiding deity, Lord Hanuman is believed to be self-manifested. The Temple has glorious past and is still visited by lakhs of devotees every year.
- Chhatarpur Temple – The Temple is known as the Shri Aadya Katyayani Shakti Peetham. The Temple is dedicated to Goddess Katyayani, one of the nine forms of Goddess Durga. The Temple is the second largest temple complex in India. The entire temple is constructed of marble and is an architectural delight.