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Compared to the facade of the Opera House, Sydney, the Bahai temple is one of the most visited sites in the world with an average of three and a half million visitors each year. Set amidst 26 acres of lush landscaped gardens the Bahai temple looks spectacular just before sunset when the temple is flood lit.
The temple was designed by Fariborz Sahba, a Canadian architect of Iranian origin. He took 10 years in designing the structure. The construction of the building began on 21 April 1980 and was completed on 21 December 1986 at a cost of Rs 10 million and was opened to public on January 1, 1987. More than 800 engineers, technicians, workers and artisans were employed in its construction.
Made of white marble, cement, dolomite and sand, this temple is 24m from floor to apex and 70m in diameter. The temple structure has 27 giant white Greek marble petals and nine pools of water and walkways. The nine walkways symbolizes the nine unifying spiritual paths of the Bahai faith, which believes in oneness of all religions and mankind, and the nine pools of water represents the floating green leaves of the lotus flower which also serves to cool the stark, elegant interior.
The lotus, as seen from outside, has three layers of nine petals made out of thin concrete shells. The first or innermost layer called as 'inner leaves' and second layer called as 'outer leaves', of nine white marble covered petals each pointed inward, houses the inner central hall and the outer annular hall respectively. The inner leaves appear to be partly closed. The outer leaf is 15.4m wide and rises up to 22.5m above the podium and the inner leaves rise to an elevation of 34.3m above the inner podium. At the lowest level each shell has a maximum width of 14m. It is uniformly 200mm thick. The lowest or outermost layer of nine petals (entrance leaves) curves outward and forms the nine entrances all around the outer annular hall. It is 18.2m wide at the entrance and rises 7.8m above the platform level. The lotus open at the top is covered by a glass and steel roof which provides natural light inside the auditorium as well as protection from rain.
Nine massive arches ringed below at angular intervals of 40 degrees are placed all around the central hall. The intersection of these arches makes beautiful outlines and adds more beauty to the arches. These arches are the main support to the superstructure and a row of steps through each arch lead into the high ceiling Prayer Hall. Shining with white marble surfaces, this central hemispherical prayer hall holds up to 2,500 people and has no religious icons, no priests or no candles in it. The temple also has a library of religious books, an audio-visual room and an Information Centre which is also worth a look. The Information Centre provides information on different facets of the Bahá'í Faith in the form of photographs, written texts, film; and the construction of the Bahai temple as well as the social and economic development projects which the Bahá'ís are involved in.
This temple also has won so many prestigious architectural awards and worldwide acclaim and also has been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. All round the lotus are walkways with beautifully curved balustrades, bridges and strains which surround the nine pools representing the floating leaves of the lotus.
There are no Admission Charges, therefore entrance is free, and Parking is also free. There are four Prayer Sessions everyday. These Prayer Sessions are unique as prayers from all religions are recited during these sessions.
Prayer Session Timings
1000 hrs - 1015 hrs (15 minutes), 1200 hrs - 1215 hrs (15 minutes), 1500 hrs - 1515 hrs (15 minutes), 1700 hrs - 1715 hrs (15 minutes)