BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham: A Monumental Symbol of Hindu Culture and Human Dedication in the US

BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham: A Monumental Symbol of Hindu Culture and Human Dedication in the US
BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham: A Monumental Symbol of Hindu Culture and Human Dedication in the US

In Robbinsville, New Jersey, the grand opening of BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham marked a historic moment on October 8. As the largest Hindu temple in the United States, Akshardham stands as an astonishing testament to the vibrant Hindu community in the country and a profound symbol of human dedication, artistic achievement, and spiritual significance.

This remarkable temple, a monumental achievement outside of India, boasts an architectural beauty crafted from four distinct varieties of marble sourced from Italy and limestone from Bulgaria. These precious materials embarked on an incredible 8,000-mile journey to reach their final destination in New Jersey. Here, skilled artisans meticulously assembled these intricately carved pieces, akin to a colossal jigsaw puzzle, resulting in the creation of this monumental Hindu temple.

Spanning an expansive 126-acre area, the construction of Akshardham was made possible through the relentless dedication of artisans and volunteers, who invested approximately 4.7 million hours to meticulously hand-carve around two million cubic feet of stone. The temple’s walls are adorned with carvings of historical figures, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln, adding a unique touch of diversity and inclusivity to its design.

Over 12,500 volunteers from across the United States dedicated more than 12 years, from 2011 to 2023, to bring Akshardham to life. This awe-inspiring temple stretches an impressive 255 feet in length, 345 feet in width, and 191 feet in height, covering an expansive 183 acres.

On October 8, guided by BAPS spiritual leader Mahant Swami Maharaj, Akshardham was inaugurated, with doors opening to visitors on October 18. Even before its official inauguration, the temple began drawing thousands of Hindu devotees and individuals from various faiths and beliefs. Located approximately 60 miles south of Times Square in New York and 180 miles north of Washington, DC, it has become a significant spiritual destination.

Akshardham’s design is deeply rooted in ancient Hindu scriptures and showcases elements from India’s rich cultural heritage. The temple houses an impressive collection of over 10,000 statues, complex carvings of Indian musical instruments, and various dance forms. Among modern-era Hindu temples, Akshardham ranks possibly as the second largest, surpassed only by Cambodia’s iconic Angkor Wat.

The temple’s distinctive design incorporates a central main shrine, 12 sub-shrines, nine towering shikhars, and nine pyramidal shikhars. Notably, Akshardham boasts the largest elliptical dome in traditional stone architecture, designed to withstand the test of time for a thousand years. Within its premises lies the Brahma Kund, a traditional Indian stepwell filled with water sourced from more than 300 bodies of water worldwide, including the sacred rivers of India and all 50 states of the US.

The construction of Akshardham has been a collective effort, with volunteers from across the United States receiving guidance from skilled artisans in India. This monumental endeavor stands as a testament not only to architectural achievement but also to the power of unwavering human dedication and the rich tapestry of Hindu culture and spirituality in the United States.