Meet the key faces behind BAPS Hindu Mandir

The volunteer-driven management of Mandir Ltd has been led by chairman Ashok Kotecha, who has been one of the gems hand-picked by the leading spiritual gurus at BAPS

By Ashwani Kumar

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ashok Kotecha, and Chirag Patel.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ashok Kotecha, and Chirag Patel.

Published: Wed 14 Feb 2024, 11:46 AM

Thousands of remarkable individuals from various backgrounds, experiences and expertise have been the backbone of the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi. Most core team members have given years of life to realise the dream of having a traditional Hindu sandstone temple in Abu Dhabi. The incredible diversity in its ranks is one of the crucial aspects behind its ability to thrive amid challenges.

The volunteer-driven management of Mandir Ltd has been led by chairman Ashok Kotecha, who has been one of the gems hand-picked by the leading spiritual gurus at BAPS to ensure the temple blooms like a lotus in the desert. And the Mandir project gave Kotecha a purpose in his life.


“Before we breathe our last, we got to do something that is not for ourselves, it’s for other people,” said Kotecha, a person of Jain faith.

Kotecha underlined that the historic Mandir will boost the India-UAE bilateral relations.


“This is the footprint that India, and we as Indians can leave on this nation, a place of harmony. The rulers have a space in their hearts for us, and that’s why we are here. They have a deep respect for what we stand for, and that’s why this temple could be built.”

Over the years, Kotecha was tasked with securing financial support for the project, which ran to the tune of Dh350 million ($95.3 million).

Chirag Patel, a member of the board of directors, and his family, especially his late father Rohit Patel, have been longstanding supporters.

“Being closely involved in the Abu Dhabi Hindu Mandir’s evolution from its inception to the architectural marvel it is today has been an extraordinary chapter of my life. It’s amazing to see how a vision turned into a real-life place that stands for coming together and respecting each other,” Patel said.

Pranav Desai, a member of the board of directors.
Pranav Desai, a member of the board of directors.

Pranav Desai, a member of the board of directors, and his family have been associated with the Sanstha since its inception in 1907.

“My involvement with BAPS has been since my childhood. My grandfather was associated with the founder president of the organisation, Shastriji Maharaj.”

Desai has been part of the Mandir process from the initial stages. For more than five years, he has focused on outreach, media, and government affairs.

“We have been able to give a feeling to all the Indian communities that this temple belongs to them.”

Dubai-born teenager Karuna Guha is a law student.
Dubai-born teenager Karuna Guha is a law student.

Among the young contributors is Dubai-born teenager Karuna Guha, who has been able to convey the core messages and values of the temple to visitors, including Emirati officials, ambassadors, diplomats, celebrities, and media, among others.

“I have seen this temple from the foundation to the flag,” said Karuna, who volunteers as a spot guide.

“Crowd management and informing visitors about the value tales and impact created by the Mandir are part of my volunteer work. The temple is one place where our inner potentials, like public speaking, are unleashed,” Karuna, a law student, noted.

Sanjay Parikh, the coordinator for the temple project.
Sanjay Parikh, the coordinator for the temple project.

Sanjay Parikh, the coordinator for the temple project, is an IIT Kanpur graduate in civil engineering and has been part of more than 40 BAPS temples in the past three decades of volunteer work.

“We visited important temples across India and conducted comprehensive studies to ensure that the architecture of this temple represents the entire India and its different styles and cultures. And all these different elements have blended beautifully, which is stunning. This aspect makes BAPS Hindu Mandir a unique temple. The core idea was to spread the message of harmony,” Parikh said.

Nishith Raval, senior project manager.
Nishith Raval, senior project manager.

Nishith Raval, senior project manager, has been associated with the Sanstha since 2001.

“I have been managing the entire complex, including the temple, foundation fieldwork, and other ancillary buildings, and underground areas, and coordinating other services like air conditioning, waterproofing, and more, which need to be coordinated with external agencies, getting permits. I have to ensure that things are in place for work without any issues,” Raval added.


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