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The Bahai Lotus Temple

Blended Into the Symbol of Love – The Eternal Chaste Lotus

The Lotus temple architecture was completely based on Syndey’s Opera house design. Otherwise known as Bahai Temple, it is one of the latest inclusions to the category of Delhi’s popular attractions. People who visit this place will definitely enjoy roaming around lavish manicured green gardens which is a great source for photography along with Bahai temple at its backdrop.

Even before enjoying the spiritual experience at this amazing architecture, one can observe a white beautiful lotus arousing high among the lavish Kalkaji Hills in New Delhi. Located towards the eastern direction of Hauz Khas, this last of 7 Bahai temples is otherwise known as popular Baha’I Mashriqu’l-Adhkar. This Lotus temple, right from its inauguration in 1986, has developed its own place in the hearts of Delhi people, reaching into their imagination, satisfying their curiosity and redefining the meaning of worship. Faribuz Sahba developed this Lotus temple amidst beautiful landscape decorated with lavish manicured green gardens, emerald pool that can soothe even a thirsty soul.

Structural Style of Lotus Temple

All the structures of Baha’i House including Lotus Temple carry certain specific architectural elements; few among them are mentioned in Baha’I scripture. The founder’s son, Abdu’l – Baha made a note that a specific architectural character of this worship House is the presence of 9 sided circle shape. Though all Baha’I Worship House carries a dome structure, this is not a significant portion of the architecture. It is also stated in the Baha’I scripture that there should not be any images, statues or pictures displayed inside the Worship house and there should not be any altars or pulpits incorporated into their architectural design (readers should simply stand behind a portable and simple lecture stand)

Drawing inspiration from a lotus flower, this Worship House is made up of 27 free style standing marbles called Petals which are arranged in the form of clusters of 3 resulting in 9 sides. There are 9 opening to this Lotus Temple leading to tall central hall which is about 40 m tall and can accommodate approximately 2,500 people. The Lotus Temple surface is constructed with white marble which is bought from Greece’s Penteli Mountain, the same as that of various ancient monuments and from which other Baha’i worship houses were constructed. Together with its gardens and 9 surrounding small size ponds, this Lotus Temple covers about 10.5 hectares or 26 acres.

The exact location of this temple is at Bahapur village, in NCR. The main architect of this temple was Fariborz Sahba, an Iranian currently residing in Canada. In 1976, he was assigned to design this temple and he later on supervised the construction of this temple. An UK organization, Flint and Neill undertook the structural design of this temple. The major fund for the construction of this worship place was gifted by Hyderabad’s Ardishir Rustampur who offered his entire savings for the purpose of constructing this temple in the year 1953. A part of the budget was allocated to build a small greenhouse in order to study about the indigenous flowers and plants which can be planted to decorate this site.

Significance of Temple

This stands as a symbolic representation of being pure and spiritual even in the present materialistic world. Visitors from all religion can gather here and meditate for their well being. There is no presence of any rituals or any idols and their daily service includes a portion from holy books from various religions. There is a belief that this Lotus Temple is ‘Architecturally, artistically, ethically, the edifice is a paragon of perfection, the sentiment that prevails in the heart of every single person.

The symbol of Lotus denoted the Manifestation of Lord Almighty, and is also the symbol of tenderness and purity. The importance of Lotus is deeply inculcated in the hearts and minds of Indian people. In Mahabhartha, Brahma, the Creator is known to have aroused from lotus that grew from the navel of Lord Vishnu, when he laid in meditation. There is a universal reverence to this Lotus, which is well regarded as sacred flower linked with religious worship for many centuries.

According to Buddhist folklore, this Boddhisatva Avalokiteswara is known to be Lotus born which is usually represented as sitting or standing on lotus pedestal holding lotus bloom in hand. Buddha followers glorify Buddha in their prayer singing, ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’, and “Yea, Oh Jewel in the Lotus!’.Buddha says that one should live life like a lotus, which in spite of residing in dirty water; it still remains beautiful and also unmodified by surroundings. With this, we came to know that Lotus has remained in a strong link with worship and is part of human thoughts and life of Indians since many years. One may get a feel that they have been worshipping at this temple since many years. Right now, their vision turned out to be god willing and reality and one day all will get a chance to visit this place and worship their god inside it.

Tourist Hub at Lotus Temple

Right from its inauguration, this Worship House is open to public for many years starting from December 1986. This place has attracted approximately 50 million tourists till late 2002. This is one among the most visited edifice in world. Even the number of visitors surpasses those who visited Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower. During holidays or Hindu celebrative occasions, this place may attract as many as 1, 50,000 visitors.

This Worship House is otherwise known as Lotus Temple. During festive seasons in India, people make a replica of this Temple as Pandal, which is a temporary structure to worship Goddess Durga. There is a permanent replica of this temple in Sikkim, under the name of Hindu Legship Mandir, devoted to Lord Shiva.

Awards to Lotus Temple

  • In 1987, Mr. Fariborz Sahba, the designer of this Baha’I Worship House was presented with the honor for his excellence in architecture and religious art by United Kingdom based Institution of Structural Engineers for constructing a building, with an outstanding structure resembling a flower along with striking visual impact.
  • In the year 1987, the Interfaith Meeting on Religion, Art & Architecture that comes under the governance of American Institute of Architects, located in Washington D.C. presented their 1st award of honor to Mr. F. Sahba for his ‘excellence in religious art and architecture’.
  • In 1988, Award for Paul Waterbury Outdoor Lighting Design was given for special reference to the exterior lighting by the illuminating Engineering Society of North America.
  • In 1989, Maharashtra-India Chapter of the American Concrete Institution rewarded this temple for its excellence in concrete structure
  • Encyclopedia Britannica in the respective 1994 edition recognized this temple to be an impeccable accomplishment of time in its architecture division.
  • In 2000, China’s architecture society recognized this temple to be one among 100 canonical work of 20th century in their recently published article, ‘World Architecture 1900-2000: A Very Critical Mosaic’, Volume 8 and South Asia.
  • In 2000, Vienna’s GlobArt Academy, presented their ‘GlobArt Academy 2000’ award to Fariborz Sahba, the designer of this temple, for ‘ his greatness of the service of Taj Mahal in the 20th century for marketing the harmony and unity amongst people of different countries, social status and religions to such a limit that it got extended as compared to all other historical and architectural monuments all across the world”.

Visiting Time

The temple is open to public on all days other then Monday. The timings during summer season is between 9 am and 7 pm whereas during winter season, they remain opened between 9.30 am and 5.30 pm.

The temple delivers an exotic view during evening time as it glitters like a diamond. So evening will be the ideal time to visit this temple.

How to Reach

It is located towards the eastern direction of intersection of outer ring road and Mathura road (on the way to Agra). One can go till Nehru place (this bus terminal has got good connectivity to all parts of Delhi) from where they can walk for about 15 minutes or can also hire an auto-rickshaw.

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