Swaminarayan Akshardham, an imposing cultural monument on the banks of the Yamuna in New Delhi, was inaugurated and dedicated to the nation by President A P J Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 6 in the presence of nearly 20,000 devotees.
The monument is built on a 100-acre complex that showcases Indian art, culture and values. It combines traditional stone art and architecture, Indian culture and civilization, ancient values and wisdom and the best of modern technology.
The main monument is a marvel in pink sandstone and white marble that is 141 feet high, 316 feet wide and 370 feet long. Designed and sculpted entirely according to the ancient Indian sthapati shastras (ancient architectural practices), it is built to last thousands of years, profusely carved with 234 ornate pillars, over 20,000 murtis (idols) of deities and rishis, and delicate statues and statuettes, decorative arches and layers of sculpted Indian flora and fauna, reviving authentic Hindu carvings. The monument rises on the shoulders of 148 huge stone elephants, depicting ancient tales from the Purans and Panchtantra. And like a necklace, a double-storied parikrama (verandah) of red sandstone encircles the monument, with over 155 samrans (pyramidal roof) and 1,160 pillars.
Image: The main monument of Swaminarayan Akshardham
Design: Satish Bodas | Photograph Courtsey: BAPS