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The temple is included in the list of 'Seven Wonders of the 21st Century' by the prestigious Reader’s Digest monthly magazine. It also has been listed in the 2009 edition of the Guinness World Records book for the largest Hindu temple in the world. Also known as Delhi Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham, it is dedicated to Swami Nayarayanan of Swami Narayanan sect. The complex is the second Akshardham complex in the country after the one at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.
The building was inspired and moderated by Pramukh Swami Maharaj who was the spiritual leader BAPS (Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan) community. It was inaugurated in November 2005 by the President, Dr APJ Abdul, Kalam. The Akshardham complex was completed in only five years and more than 7,000 sculptors made their valuable contribution in completing this architectural marvel.
Standing at a height of some 141 feet, the grandeur of Akshardham temple is awe-inspiring. Spanning across 316 feet wide and 370 feet long, this monument depicting ancient Indian Vastu Shastra and Architecture. In the complex, there is a beautiful and well kept garden dotted with fountains and bronze sculptures. In one area of the garden has statues of the great warriors of India as Ram, Lakshmana, Sita and Draupadi. The Rath in the middle of the garden, with eight horses is truly remarkable. There is Yagnapurush Kund, the world's largest yagna kund, with lotuses and water collected from 151 holy rivers are the other attractions. At night, the colourful fountain waving with the Vedic rhymes looks like a dream world.
The main monument of the Akshardham Temple is made of Rajasthani pink sandstone and Italian Carrara Marble. Built with earthquake-resistant provisions, it's interior is bright and air conditioned.
At the entrance, there are two famous ‘Mayur Dwars’ (peacock gates) with 1,738 sculptured peacocks. The temple opens to a white marbled floor where as many as 20,000 statues stand. There is a double-storeyed arcade with 1,152 illars and 145 windows and 154 small domes. Total, the temple has 234 ornate pillars, over 20,000 sculptures and statues, eleven huge domes and decorative arches.
In addition to the temple itself, the complex include a grand IMax theater where visitors can see film, based on the life of the sect’s leader, Swaminarayan. A 12-minute indoor boat ride describing India's achievements over the years takes the visitors to this theater. Akshardham also has two huge exhibition halls where one is a venue of sound and light show depicting the beginning and end of the world according to Hindhuism and India's cultural heritage, a canteen which accommodate 5,000 people at one sitting and a research centre.
Timings: 10am to 7pm. Closed on Mondays
Entry Fee: Free ; Note that visitors are allowed in after high security checks.
For exhibition halls and theatres Rs-145, senior citizens: 75 (includes all shows)
Fountain Dance Show: (Timing: after 7:15)