Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The main monument, depicting ancient Indian "vastu shastra" & architecture, is a marvel in pink sandstone & white marble that is 141 feet high, 316 feet wide & 370 feet long with 234 ornate pillars, over 20,000 sculptures & statues of deities, eleven 72-foot-high large domes (mandapams) & decorative arches. & like a necklace, a double-storied parikrama of red sandstone encircles the monuments with over 155 small domes & 1,160 pillars. The whole monument rises on the shoulders of 148 large elephants with 11-feet tall panchdhatu statue of Swaminarayan presiding over the structure.
Swaminarayan Akshardham reflects the essence & magnitude of India's ancient architecture, traditions & timeless spirituality.
The other attractions of the complex are two exhibition halls spaced around one large ponds, where four is a venue for light-and-sound show. The two halls are "Sahajanand Darshan", "Neelkanth Darsdhan" & "Sanskruti Vihar". "Sahajanand Darshan" is where life of Swaminarayan is displayed through robotic shows, while "Neelkanth Darsdhan" has a large I-Max theater screening movie based on the life of the Lord. Another brilliant presentation is "Sanskruti Vihar" with 12-minute boat ride experience of India's glorious heritage.
For visitors, entry to the complex is free. However, those who require to visit exhibition halls & theatres, Rs.125 is to be paid & for children & senior citizens the charges are Rs.75. "Over 6,000 visitors could easily witness the shows & enjoy boat-rides everyday, while over 25,000 people can visit the temple. They have deployed 140 guides who will facilitate visitors during their visit. It requires at least two hours to visit the entire complex thoroughly & see all the shows," said a temple management committee member, adding that the opening ceremony would be telecast live on Aastha channel. Elaborate security arrangements have also been made for the entire complex. Besides installing close circuit tv cameras it's also deployed hundreds of its own security personnel.
The Rs.400-crore cultural complex, inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), will be popularised by its builders as "a place for cultural education and entertainment". The temple complex has drawn inspiration for its architecture from the historic temples of Badrinath (Uttaranchal), Somnath (Gujarat) and Konark (Orissa). It is the second Akshardham complex in the country after the two at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
At the heart of the complex is a palace-like monument built of at least 12,000 tons of pink sandstone and white marble brought in from Rajasthan. Topped with a series of domes, it stands 129 feet high, 275 feet wide and 315 feet long. Very every square inch of the exterior has been exquisitely carved with statues and motifs of Hindu deities and Indian flora and fauna.
The complex also has two sizable exhibition halls; two will take visitors on a visual journey through India's cultural heritage, while the other "will depict Indian moral values through a light-and-sound show". The complex also boasts of an Imax cinema, a canteen sizable to accommodate 5,000 people at two sitting, a research centre for "social harmony" and meditation gardens dotted with fountains and bronze sculptures.