I took the metro rail from Delhi Cantt to start for the Akshardham Temple in October 2014 . It was late in the afternoon (definitely not the right time to plan this trip), and as I boarded down at the Akshardham Metro Station, it was almost 4:00 pm in the evening.
I approached the entrance gate of the temple and on the horizon, I could see the majestic Akshardham temple isolated on the skyline. I could also see a huge parking lot in front of me, which means I could expect a lot of company here.
As I approached the Entrance gates, I could see the huge crowd waiting for their turn to enter inside. The temple is crowded everyday throughout the year, as people from all walks of life, tourists, pilgrims, students, and travelers come to visit the temple. I joined a queue and I had to submit my belongings. There were two queues rather, and both of them were loooong. I could understand that by the time, I am inside, it will be dark.
Cameras, mobiles, any other electronic gadgets are strictly not allowed inside. So, it had to be deposited at the counter, where the attendant checks and screens every baggage diligently. It took me a lot of time here as some Ukranian guests to our country had a bad time trying to understand Hindi and getting their luggage checked at the counter.
It was now time to join the second queue and I started mentally preparing myself to pass through the zig-zag turns and twists up to the entrance gate, as people were being allowed to enter inside in batches. The anxious crowd waited in patience, and as one batch would start to enter , people would rush in from behind, to fit themselves inside the flowing crowd, so they do not get stuck with the batch of people from behind.
By the time I reached the 10 Gates (representing the ten cardinal directions), it was already 6:30 pm in the evening. The glimmering lights in the evening increased the grace of the structures even more. The dim lights strategically placed between the red and white marble structures reflected every piece of delicate and intricate artistry.
I approached the gallery of the Bhakti Dwar and inside the hall was a gallery showcasing the history and the vast knowledge of the Hindu Culture. It has taken more than 3,00,000 labour hours over a span of several years (I cannot recollect the other figures now) to complete the temple through its various phases to the phase as it appears today. Carved out in red and white marble stone, the temple is a hallmark of artistry and architecture, blended into one. All information in the form of pamphlets, brochures and photo-documents can be obtained from here.
As I came out of the gates, and entered into a large lobby area, I was confronted with the Mayur Dwar, named so because of the beautifully chiseled peacocks on the gates.
Entering into the lobby, between the two gates was the footprints of the Shri Swaminarayan in his memory and devotion.
The best part was, despite all the heat of the day, as I walked on the floor of the temple, it was surprisingly cool and relaxing. I had a similar experience when I had been to the Taj Mahal, probably its the architectural aspects that create such natural systems that seem to defy the natural laws itself. And of course, I was visiting a temple created with all the minute details of As I came out of the gates, and entered into a large lobby area, I was confronted with the Mayur Dwar, named so because of the beautifully chiseled peacocks on the gates.Vastu Shastra in mind.
It was time to see the statue of Shri Swaminarayan. It was a huge grandeur on a vast black skyline, reflecting like an energy centre in the complex.From far off, I could see the shining effigy of Shri Swaminarayan, scattering its golden colors in the vicinity. The passive lighting on the temple structure reflected every minute detail of the artistry on the structure. Every single chisel on the stone structure has been made with patience and deliberation.
I entered into the temple and realized there was much more than my senses could have expected today. Massive wall-paintings depicting the life and journey of Shri Swaminarayan. The pillars, dome, rooftops carved out in marble stone rarely seemed to miss the symmetry anywhere.
The architects and the masons seem to have poured their hearts out when they crafted the structure, and that could be witnessed from the effort that has manifested.
I came out of the temple complex with my head still fixed to the structures as I could not take my eyes off them. As I moved further, I encountered the Gajendra Peeth, a panoramic layout of the various modes of the Elephant and its connections with the nature. Crafted in smoothness and precision, the giant sized elephants seemed as if they would get alive anytime, without a caution.
On the other side, I could see the reflections of the entire temple on the waters of the Narayan Sarovar. The water in the artificial pond was gently flowing through 108 Gaumukhs along the edges of the temple walls.I sat down next to the pond for some time, to rest and to enjoy the calm reflections on the water surface. The lights on the temple reflected from the water surface and there was a soothing calm on the water surface, no ripples, only stillness!!!
I missed out on the Yagna Purush Kund and the Musical Fountain Show as this part of the temple was under renovation and repairs and was kept out of bounds for the visitors. The yagna peeth designed in the form of a lotus was visible from far off, its petals precisely etched out in symmetry.But, I didn’t fail to notice the massive 30 feet tall metallic statue of Neelkanth Varni, on the far end of the amphitheater. A 15 minute musical show is organized in this venue with the Musical Fountains designed inside the Yagna Kund. Vibrant Lights along with water fountains dance to the musical tunes as the lights change and reflect their colors along the arrays of water fountains splashing across the sky. Well, ‘better luck next time, I said to myself’.
It was time to go home now. Today, I had come across yet another treasure of the Indian Culture and I felt proud from within. The treasures of Indian Culture are so vast and enormous that one lifetime may not be enough to understand them. Every encounter brings a new discovery along my journey. I have more to see, as long as I can, so that I can discover more treasures, ones that are already known to mankind, and also the ones that still await to be known, in silence.