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A brand new landmark soon for the Capital

Staff Reporter



NEW ARRIVAL: The Akshardham complex all set for inauguration this coming month. - PHOTO: V. SUDERSHAN

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NEW DELHI: To the Capital's many tourist destinations will be added one more this coming month. The sprawling Swaminarayan Akshardham complex spread over 30 acres on the banks of the Yamuna near Noida Mor in East Delhi is to be formally inaugurated on November 6.

The Rs.400-crore cultural complex, inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), will be popularised by its builders as "a place for cultural education and entertainment". The temple complex has drawn inspiration for its architecture from the historic temples of Badrinath (Uttaranchal), Somnath (Gujarat) and Konark (Orissa). It is the second Akshardham complex in the country after the one at Gandhinagar in Gujarat.

Even as last-minute preparations are now on for the inauguration, curious visitors have started coming in for a look or for offering "puja" and "abhishek".

At the heart of the complex is a palace-like monument built of at least 12,000 tons of pink sandstone and white marble brought in from Rajasthan. Topped with a series of domes, it stands 129 feet high, 275 feet wide and 315 feet long. Almost every square inch of the exterior has been exquisitely carved with statues and motifs of Hindu deities and Indian flora and fauna.

Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the 83-year-old spiritual leader of the Swaminarayan sect that has over 10 lakh followers across the globe, has closely monitored every detail of the complex. It took over 7,000 builders, masons and polishers to build the complex in record time. The place is built to withstand major quakes "and to last at least a thousand years".

The complex also has two huge exhibition halls; one will take visitors on a visual journey through India's cultural heritage, while the other "will depict Indian moral values through a light-and-sound show". The complex also boasts of an Imax cinema, a canteen big enough to accommodate 5,000 people at one sitting, a research centre for "social harmony" and meditation gardens dotted with fountains and bronze sculptures.

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