Jaw-dropping artwork, waterfall: First look inside Abu Dhabi's BAPS Hindu temple ahead of Feb 14 opening

An impressive dune structure created with sand from all seven emirates is the first thing one notices after entering the premises

by

Ashwani Kumar

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Front view of BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi. KT Photos: Neeraj Murali
Front view of BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi. KT Photos: Neeraj Murali

Published: Wed 31 Jan 2024, 8:24 PM

Last updated: Fri 2 Feb 2024, 7:03 PM

The first traditional Hindu stone temple in Abu Dhabi hailed as a spiritual oasis of harmony, is an architectural masterpiece of hand-carved sculptures and a treasure trove of immersive stories.

The BAPS Hindu Mandir stands majestically with its seven towering spires representing each emirate and two magnificent domes on 27 acres of land donated by the UAE President, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

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Khaleej Times was offered a guided tour of the iconic temple ahead of the much-anticipated grand opening by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s present spiritual guru, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on February 14. The place of worship will be open to public from February 18 through registrations.

Built by skilful artisans from India, the pink sandstone structure is a testament to the all-inclusive spirit of humanity, where not just Hinduism but different religions and civilisations have been represented.

Artisans give final touches to the stone carvings that depict stories from Hindu scriptures at BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Neeraj Murali
Artisans give final touches to the stone carvings that depict stories from Hindu scriptures at BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Neeraj Murali

Impressive dune structure

Apart from the splendid sight of the landmark temple, the first thing one notices after entering the premises is the impressive dune structure created with sand from all seven emirates. It has been established as a tribute to the vision of the Sanstha’s late spiritual leader, His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who, while in the middle of a desert in Sharjah back in 1997, wished for a temple to be built in Abu Dhabi. That dream has become a reality due to the intent and generosity of the UAE and Indian leadership and the BAPS organisation.

Waterfall feature, sustainability

A striking waterfall feature greets visitors before entering the main temple, representing the source of the sacred Indian rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. The flooring was constructed with advanced technology to keep the temperature cool, which allows visitors to enter the temple premises barefoot.

There are eco-friendly shoe houses, which feature 96 bells on the exterior – a symbol to remember the life of the late Pramukh Swami Maharaj.

The benches, tables, and chairs in the food court have been made by reusing the wooden pallets used to transport the stones. Such features make the temple one of the most sustainable places of Hindu worship.

Visual treat, splendid moments

The main attraction is the temple itself, which reflects India's rich culture and history, along with Arabic symbols. The intricate stone carvings narrate the key moments from the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata and other narratives from Hindu scriptures and mythology. The temple, built according to the ancient Hindu 'shilpa shastras’ – Sanskrit scriptures of architecture, has carved depictions of value tales selected from Arabian, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Aztec, and Indian civilisations.

The artwork inside the temple is a sight to behold. Two spectacular carvings capture the attention - the ‘Dome of Harmony’ and the ‘Dome of Peace’.

'Dome of Harmony’ is a captivating symbolism across five layers embodying the essence of earth, water, fire, air, and space. A remarkable masterpiece is the ‘pillar of pillars', which is adorned with thousands of meticulously engraved smaller pillars.

Hindu deities representing different parts of India, including Swaminarayan, Rama, Sita, Krishna, and Ayyappan, among others, will be installed in the temple. The deities will be placed under each of the seven spires. Several events are planned before and after the official opening in Abu Mureikhah. This iconic landmark is poised to become not just a place of worship for Hindus but learning new values of different faiths, religions and cultures.

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