The newly constructed BAPS Hindu Mandir, ahead of its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Abu Dhabi, UAE. (PTI Photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the BAPS (Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha) Mandir in Abu Dhabi during his two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 13-14th February. Besides the BAPS Mandir inauguration, PM Modi will also address the Indian diaspora at the 'Ahlan Modi' event on February 13. The temple will be opened to the public from March 1.
This is the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi. It is built on 27 acres of land gifted to the temple authority by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Force. The temple is a stunning architectural marvel that includes a visitors' centre, prayer hall having a capacity of 3,000 people, exhibitions, learning areas, sports area for children and youth, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, book and gift shop and other facilities.
The marvels of the BAPS mandir
In 2015, 13.5 acres of land and permission to build a temple were given by the crowned prince of Abu Dhabi. BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and Mandir Limited were chosen and entrusted by both governments to construct, develop and administer the mandir project.
The foundation for the first traditional BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi was laid on April 20, 2019. Later, in May 2023, diplomats from over 30 countries visited the under-construction temple site.
With years of efforts, the BAPS Hindu Mandir Abu Dhabi has come up on that gifted land in Abu Mureikhah, Al Rahba area on the Abu Dhabi-Sweihan-Al Ain Road, close to the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway.
The temple sits on an area of 27 acres, and its seven spires (shikhars) represent the seven emirates in the UAE.
There has been no use of iron or steel in the mandir, following the ancient way of building temples that was used to preserve the purity of the religious space, it is entirely sculpted out of stones.
"More than 20,000 tonnes of stone and marble have been shipped in more than 700 containers to Abu Dhabi over the past three years. Fly ash has been used to fill up the foundation, thereby replacing 55 per cent of the cement in the concrete mix, making the Mandir eco-friendly and reducing its carbon footprint. To monitor the structure, more than 300 sensors have been embedded at different levels to provide live data of stress, pressure, temperature and seismic events", said the spokesperson explaining the making of the temple.
Elaborating about the architectural marvels of the mandir, the spokesperson added, "The exterior of the mandir is made of pink sandstone from Rajasthan and the interior from white marble handcrafted by artisans in India. More than 2,000 artisans in Indian states of Rajasthan and Gujarat have carved white marble pillars over the past three years etching out intricate designs of peacocks, elephants, horses, camels, the phases of the moon and array of musicians beating the drum or playing the sitar. Every corner and crevice is intricately hand-carved by hundreds of artisans in India. Thousands of such stone pieces have been shipped to the UAE and assembled on site like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle".
The temple is surrounded by scrupulously created ghats representing two of the holy rivers, Ganga and Yamuna. There are two central domes in the temple, one being the 'Dome of Peace' and the other being the 'Dome of Harmony', symbolizing the welcoming nature of the temple for people of all religions and its motive of promoting peace. At the temple there are idols (murtis) of various Indian deities - Swaminarayan, Akshar-Purushottam, Radha-Krishna, Rama-Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman, Shiva-Parvati, Ganesha, Kartikeya, Padmavati-Venkateshwara, Jagannath, and Ayyappa.
The temple complex is a harmonious blend of humanity and nature being intertwined to produce a complex yet wonderful outcome.
With the inauguration of the temple and PM Modi's meeting with the top leaders of the UAE to discuss ways to further deepen, expand and strengthen the strategic partnership between the countries, it looks like India will soon hold a good grip on the Gulf.
First Published: Feb 13 2024 | 1:34 PM IST