January 2017 continues to be a lucky month for me as my run with temples continues. I visited the Akshar Dham on 26th January, the Republic Day of India. The weather was cold and foggy and the slight drizzle made the winter nip frosty. Thanks to Yami ben Patel who arranged for a special guide to take me through all sections of the temple quickly.
The temple is so magnificent, a cultural wonder and I must mention here that it has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest Hindu temple in the world. We started the temple tour with the mantaps and these are an amazing display of the glorious heritage of Vedic religion, culture and our deities. The entire structure is constructed with pink Rajasthani sandstone and Italian Carra marble. No steel has been used anywhere in the construction.
I performed the puja of nilvarni maharaj with the sankalp of remaining happy forever. The place is known as a devotional Disneyland due to the amazing light and sound show that is screened in the temple. There was an interesting show on how Swami Narayan helped people from different walks of life. The temple welcomes all visitors irrespective of caste, creed, race, nationality and belief. We could also see a theatre which was running a movie on his life on a large screen.
Our last stop was the Sanskruthi Vihar, for which we took a boat ride to reach this powerhouse of knowledge. I became speechless as I saw the vision and thoughtfulness that has gone into creating this architectural marvel. It is truly one of its kind in the whole world.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj has given new life to the long lost art of sculpture making and the disappearing community of artisans. More than seven thousand workers worked on the temple in a span of five years.
A great visit and a great start to the New Year!