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Everything about Abu Dhabi's first Hindu Temple


Life is a dream
Staff member
The BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi is a remarkable achievement of cultural harmony, architectural excellence, and spiritual significance. It is the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East, and a symbol of the UAE’s commitment to tolerance and diversity. The temple, which will be inaugurated by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 14, 2024, is expected to attract millions of visitors from different faiths and backgrounds. Here are some facts and features of this unique temple.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, conceived the idea of constructing a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi during his 1997 visit to the UAE. His vision aimed to foster unity among "countries, cultures, and religions." In a noteworthy gesture of goodwill, the UAE government announced in August 2015 its decision to allocate land for the temple. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, graciously gifted the land, solidifying the bond of friendship.

On February 10, 2018, BAPS representatives, led by Prime Minister Modi, met with Sheikh Mohamed in the Presidential Palace. A memorandum of understanding for the temple project was signed, with Prime Minister Modi expressing his belief that the temple would serve as a "holy place where humanity and harmony will unite." The foundation stone-laying ceremony took place on April 20, 2019, attended by Mahant Swami Maharaj and dignitaries from both India and the UAE.

With a height of 32.92 meters (108 feet), a length of 79.86 meters (262 feet), and a width of 54.86 meters (180 feet), the temple, designed by RSP Architects Planners & Engineers Private Limited and Capital Engineering Consultants, draws inspiration from the ancient Hindu scriptures of Shilpa Shastras. This colossal structure, set to become West Asia's largest Hindu temple, can accommodate up to 10,000 people.

Symbolizing the seven emirates in the UAE, the temple boasts seven towers or shikharas, and within its intricate design are seven shrines narrating tales from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavatam, and Shiva Purana. The shikharas are adorned with depictions of deities such as Venkateshwara, Swaminarayan, Jagannath, and Ayyappa. The 'Dome of Harmony' gracefully represents the five natural elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space. Notably, the complex features detailed carvings of horses and camels, symbolizing the UAE, with each carving crafted uniquely.

Beyond its religious significance, the complex is a multifaceted space, encompassing a visitor center, prayer halls, exhibitions, learning areas, children's sports facilities, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, and a books and gift shop. The temple stands out for its advanced sensor technology, with 100 sensors in the foundation and over 350 sensors distributed throughout, providing essential data on earthquake activity, temperature fluctuations, and pressure changes.

In a commitment to sustainability, recycled wooden pallets are ingeniously repurposed to create benches, tables, and chairs in the food court. A symbolic waterfall feature within the complex mirrors the origins of the three holy rivers - Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. This unique blend of architectural magnificence and environmental consciousness positions the Abu Dhabi Hindu temple as a symbol of cultural unity and responsible design.

The temple is made of pink sandstone and white marble, sourced from Rajasthan and Italy, respectively. The stone blocks were hand-carved by more than 1,500 skilled artisans in India, who created intricate patterns, motifs, and sculptures, depicting various aspects of Hindu culture and heritage. The carved stones were then shipped to Abu Dhabi, where they were assembled and installed by engineers and workers, using modern technology and methods. The temple is estimated to cost Dh400 million, and is funded by donations from devotees and well-wishers.

The temple is not only a place of worship, but also a center of learning, service, and community. The temple aims to promote the values of peace, harmony, and tolerance, as well as the teachings of Hinduism, such as compassion, non-violence, and respect for all living beings. The temple also plans to organize various cultural, educational, and humanitarian activities, such as festivals, exhibitions, seminars, workshops, yoga classes, medical camps, and environmental initiatives. The temple is expected to attract millions of visitors from different faiths and backgrounds, who will be able to experience the beauty and diversity of Hindu culture and spirituality. The temple will also enhance the bilateral relations between India and the UAE, and foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other’s cultures and values.

The temple will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi on February 14, 2024, in a grand ceremony, attended by Sheikh Mohamed, Mahant Swami Maharaj, and other eminent guests and officials from India and the UAE. The ceremony will include rituals, prayers, chants, and music, as well as cultural performances and speeches. The ceremony will also mark the beginning of a series of religious and community events, to celebrate the opening of the temple. The temple will be open to the public from February 18, 2024, but UAE residents are advised to visit the temple from March 1, 2024, with pre-registration on a dedicated website and app. This is due to the specially themed events that have been lined up on the days following the inauguration and a huge number of international visitors who had already registered to visit the temple during that time.

One of the unique features of the mandir is 'Dome of Harmony,' which showcases the balance of the five natural elements – earth, water, fire, air, and space. Also, the temple's comprehensive facilities include a visitor centre, prayer halls, exhibitions, learning areas, a children’s sports area, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, and a books and gift shop.

Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com...-modi-will-inagurate/photostory/107419870.cms

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