Lotus Temple, Delhi
The only Baha’i place of worship in India, the Lotus temple is an exquisite work of architecture built in 1986. The design of the building resembles a budding lotus flower and is thus called as the Lotus Temple. The monument is located in the Fahapur suburb of Delhi and attracts millions of visitors each year.
The Lotus Temple also known as the Bahai House of Worship or Bahai Mashriqul-Adhkar Temple is one of the best architectural marvels in the county in modern times. The white marble structure is also called the Taj Mahal of the 20th century but it is so much more than just a splendid piece of architecture. It is a place where several visitors from all across the globe come for peace, meditation, prayers and study. Located in New Delhi, the Lotus Temple is a famous tourist attraction of the city. Unlike other places of worship which usually have an idol of a deity people pray to, asking for either forgiveness or something that they deeply desire, the Lotus Temple is a rather unique place of worship. It is known for its beautiful flower-like architecture and marvelous ambiance that make it a popular tourist attraction for people of all faiths. The Bahai Lotus Temple is one of the world’s most beautiful religious buildings and a must-visit when in Delhi.
1. The Bahai Lotus temple was designed by Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba in the shape of a lotus as it is common to several religions including Hinduism and Buddhism. He has won several international awards for this brilliant piece of work including the awards from the GlobArt Academy, Institution of Structural Engineers and more. It also gained recognition in several publications in the world like the Encyclopedia Britannia and Guinness World Records. There have been stamps of the Lotus Temple, books and even musical compositions created to showcase its beauty and grandeur.
Lotus temple 2
2. The temple was completed in 1986 and is one of the most visited places in the world. There are nine sides to the temple formed by 27 marble petals, arranged in groups of three. The nine doors lead to a central prayer hall that has a capacity of 2500 people and is about 40m high. The floor inside the central hall is also made of marble. The marble used comes from Greece, from the Penteli Mountain. Many other Bahai Houses of Worship were built using the same marble. The entrance of the Lotus Temple is also very enchanting with ponds and gardens welcoming you to the gates of the temple. The total area of the place is 26 acres.
3. It is in line with the teachings of the Bahai faith believing in the Oneness of God, the Oneness of Religions, and the Oneness of Mankind. As such, people of all religions and races are welcome in the temple as it is a place to worship the creator of the universe and not one particular deity. There is no idol to be worshipped and people of any faith, case, creed are welcome inside. Even though everyone is welcome, no ritualistic ceremonies can be performed inside the Lotus Temple nor can anyone deliver sermons. However, you can chant or read scriptures of Bahai and other faiths too, in any language. You can even set them to music by choirs but you cannot play any musical instrument inside the temple. The Bahai community offers four activities called the core activities for those who are interested in the Bahai way of life. These activities are Children’s’ Classes, Junior Youth Classes, Devotional Meetings and Study Circles.
4. The temple is visited by more than four million people every year with an average of more than 10,000 visitors daily. According to Bahai scripture, the House of Worship cannot have any pictures, statues or images displayed inside. However, the lotus is not an essential part of Bahai scripture as it states that all Bahai structures should have a nine-sided circular shaped structure. Even so, most of Bahai temples have a lotus-shaped structure. The Bahai House of Worship in Delhi is one of seven such houses of worship. The other six are at Sydney in Australia, Panama City in Panama, Apia inWestern Samoa, Kampala in Uganda, Frankfurt in Germany and Wilmette in USA.
5. It is interesting to learn a few facts about the history of how this temple was constructed. The area on which the temple is constructed was bought from the money donated by Ardishir Rustampur of Hyderabad. He gave away all his life-savings in 1953 for the temple to be constructed. But it was not until 1976 that Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba was approached for designing it. A UK-based firm named Flint and Neil was given the structural design project while the construction project was undertaken by ECC Construction Group. The Lotus Temple is one of the first temples in Delhi to use solar power. Its total electric use is 500 KW of which 120 KW is provided by solar power. When you visit the Lotus Temple, also visit the Information Centre which houses a lot of details of the Bahai faith in the form of texts, photographs, film, scriptures, etc. There is also an audio-visual room and a library where religious books are kept for visitors. You can browse through them if you like.
Timings: Lotus Temple opens at 9.30 am for visitors and shuts down by 5.30 pm in winter, and in summer the timings are 9 am to 7 pm. It remains open from Tuesday to Sunday and is shut on Mondays. There are 15-minute prayer sessions held in the temple at regular intervals every day.
Entry fee: There is no entry fee or any restriction for anyone to enter the Lotus Temple. There is space for parking which is free too.
How to reach: You can reach the Lotus Temple by taking a metro. The nearest metro station is the Kalkaji Mandir on the violet line. From here you can take a rickshaw or cab. The temple is close to Kalkaji Park and public transport is easily available to reach it.
Where to stay: There are many hotels in the vicinity of the Lotus Temple. We list a few of them that are not more than 1 km away from it. All of these are budget or mid-range accommodation that have basic amenities. Hotel Cosy Palace, Eros Plaza, Clarks Inn and Zip by Spree Hotel Bluestone are a few hotels close to the temple where you can stay on your visit.
Note that if you wish to take photographs inside the Lotus Temple, you will have to take prior permission from the authorities. However, mobile phones are allowed in its premises so you would be able to take photos with your phone camera. The facade of the temple with the pond and garden make for a beautiful backdrop for photos.
The Bahai Lotus Temple is indeed one of the must-see places in the capital and you should not miss out on it when in Delhi. Admire its brilliant architecture and experience a new way of meditating and praying where everyone gets together and chants without any bias or malice against people of any other religion. It is a place for everyone to find their inner peace.