The massive Akshardham temple situated in Delhi is an excellent destination for a one-day trip. Built on the banks of the River Yamuna, this temple is built on 100 acres of lush lawns complete with water fountains and carved pavilions. Also referred to as the devotional Disneyland of India, the temple has a hi-tech sound and light show and a 3-D animated studio to add to its grandeur.
A visit to the Akshardham temple takes you through a unique journey through India's glorious art, values and 10,000 years of Indian culture. Tourists can also experience the traditions and timeless spiritual messages of ancient India here. The temple design reflects the style of Hindu temple architecture of India - mainly Rajasthan, Orissa, Gujarat, Mughal and Jain. Constructed entirely out of marble and red sandstone, the temple has been built without the use of steel.
What to see
All the elements at the Akshardham temple depict Hindu mythology and offer a soothing experience to the mind and the soul. The temple has 20,000 statues, 234 ornate pillars and many arches studded with floral motifs and exquisite carvings.
The main attraction at the temple is the monument itself that is about 141 feet high. Apart from the ornate pillars, the monument also has 9 ornate domes, 20 quadrangle shikhars, a spectacular Gajendra Pith and 20,000 statues and murtis of India's great devotees, acharyas, sadhus and divine personalities. The temple is a fusion of pink stone (symbolizing Bhakti) and pure white marble (symbolizing purity and eternal peace).
The 11 feet high statue of Lord Swaminarayan is located in the Garbagruh (inner sanctum) of the monument. One can also get a glimpse of the deities of Sanatan Dharma, Sita-Ram, Radha-Krishna, Lakshmi-Narayan, Shiva-Parvati and twenty-four Chaturvyuh or Keshav murtis of God inside the sanctum sanctorium. This complex is surrounded by a sacred water lake called Narayan Sarovar which contains holy waters from 151 rivers and lakes, including Mansarovar. The Narayan Sarovar is surrounded by 108 Gaumukhs, symbolizing 108 names of God. Beautiful and full-bloomed lotus flowers in the lake impart an inspiring message of purity and detachment.
The ornate external wall of the main Akshardham monument is known as the Mandovar. Intricately carved, the Mandovar has 200 sculptured stone figures of India's great rishis, sadhus, devotees, acharyas and divine incarnations.
The Akshardham parikrama is made of red stone from Rajasthan. A whopping 53,956 stones were used to build the parikrama.
The Narayan Pith has beautiful bronze relief panels that illustrate the divine incidents from the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
The Gajendra Pith that pays tribute to elephants is sculptured in accordance with the ancient shilpa shastras of India. Stretching 1,070 feet, the Gajendra Pith is carved in pink stone and features stories and legends of elephants with nature, man and God.
The Akshardham also has an exhibition hall or tour hall where you can get a deeper insight into the background of Akshardham and Indian culture. The hall of values also known as the Sahajanand Darshan has an audio-animatronics show that features the universal values for mankind depicted through presentations from the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. Neelkanth Darshan is a movie on the giant screen film and features an exciting and inspiring pilgrimage of Neelkanth Varni, a child-yogi, from the 18th century. The Sanskruti Vihar offers a 12-minute fascinating boat ride of 10,000 years of India's glorious heritage.
Akshardham also has a musical fountain in combination with a Vedic yagna kund. The Bharat Upvan or the garden of India has bronze statues symbolizing the great role models of India.
The lotus-shaped sunken garden, the Yogi Harday Kamal is another attraction. Huge stones engraved with quotes from personalities like Shakespeare and Martin Luther King can be seen here.
Akshardham has a vegetarian restaurant modeled on the Ajanta and Ellora caves and an Ayurvedic bazaar.
- The temple is open from 9 AM to 9 PM from Tuesday to Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.
- There are a few entry formalities for the temple. Only small female purses or male wallets are allowed. Cell phones and other electronic devices are prohibited.
- While the entry to the Akshardham complex is free, tourists have to buy tickets for the exhibitions and light and sound show inside the complex.
- Be prepared to go through a security check at the entrance.