Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
Northampton, United Kingdom
November 20, 2013
From journal Major Delhi Attractions
New Delhi, India
December 21, 2010
The ‘Lotus Temple’ is the informal name for the Baha’i House of Worship in Delhi. Eight Baha’i Houses of Worship have been built so far across the world (of which one in Turkmenistan has since been destroyed) and a ninth is planned in Chile. The Lotus Temple was built, at a cost of Rs 100,00,00,00 over a period of six years and eight months, being opened for worship in 1986. It has since acquired the status of one of the most visited buildings in the world, with the average number of visitors touching four million—about 13,000 people a day. Some years, more people visit the Lotus Temple than the Taj Mahal.
We’re already expecting crowds when we arrive at the Lotus Temple, and sure enough, the broad stone-paved paths leading through undulating lawns, are a sea of humanity. Busloads of domestic and foreign tourists surge along the paths, heading towards the distinctive white blossoming lotus shape of the temple. We follow, past flowerbeds and neatly trimmed trees of what look like oranges. At the point where the path curves to the left, is the Information Centre. A volunteer—a foreigner, like most of the volunteers at the temple, stands outside the Information Centre to guide visitors who look lost. We, noticing a sign indicating that free entry passes are available at the Centre, are informed that though passes are available, they aren’t necessary to visit the temple. You can just walk in.
A couple of minutes’ leisurely stroll, and we reach the base of the temple. Although the Lotus Temple is one of Delhi’s most prominent landmarks and visible for miles around, seeing it up close is quite an experience. The temple is in the shape of a 27-petalled blossoming lotus, its exterior clad all in white marble. The ‘petals’ are arranged the way they are in a real flower: the fully open outer petals almost rest on the water, the innermost petals are nearly closed, little more than a bud; and the middle petals open upwards, to the sky. Nine sets, of three ‘petals’ each, form the circular building, and are surrounded by nine bluish-green pools of water, which represent lotus leaves.At the base of the temple, we are instructed to hand over our shoes for safekeeping—for larger groups such as families, large bags are provided so the entire group can bung in their shoes together. We’re given a numbered token which we can use to claim our shoes when we emerge from the temple.
Up a wide staircase, towards the main hall of the temple, and we’re already in a queue. People are allowed into the hall in large batches, so our batch—maybe a hundred people or so—waits its turn outside. A volunteer addresses us in English, welcoming us to the temple, giving us a very brief introduction to the Baha’i faith, and requesting us to switch off cameras and cell phones before we enter the hall—and to preserve complete silence in the hall. An Indian reads out, in very badly accented and indistinct Hindi, the same message. After that, we’re allowed in.
The main hall of the Lotus Temple towers to a height of over 40 mt and can accommodate up to 2,500 people. Benches of wood and white marble are lined up inside, giving the hall a somewhat cathedral-like feel. Other than the benches, the hall is fairly bare, almost Spartan; no flowers, no incense or candles or religious images. Just a very plain, simple, unadorned hall. Above our heads is the ‘calyx’ of the lotus, which, like the rest of the superstructure, functions like a skylight. The interior of the ‘calyx’ is marked with a Baha’i ringstone symbol, two six-pointed stars on either side of a curving, tree-like representation, which symbolises the connection between God and humanity. Despite the number of people inside, there’s a reverent hush all across the place. We take the opportunity—like others we see—to whisper a brief prayer. We have been told that the Baha’i faith believes in the essential unity and equality of all religions, so anybody—irrespective of religious belief—is welcome to come here and pray.
The Baha’i faith, incidentally, is a monotheistic religion founded by the Persian Baha’ullah (1817-92). Among its tenets are a belief in the unity of humanity and religions, world peace, a universal right to education, and the abolition of prejudices, Although the faith derives in part from other monotheistic religions, believers stress that Baha’ullah’s teachings are more relevant in the modern context than those of older religions.
The Iranian-born Fariborz Sahba, architect of the Lotus Temple, said in an interview: "… the lotus represents the manifestation of God, and is also a symbol of purity and tenderness… there is a deep a universal reverence for the lotus… the lotus is associated with worship, and has been a part of the life and thoughts of Indians through the ages…". The building, one of modern India’s most beautiful, is certainly unique, a lovely lotus frozen in stone, stunning yet simple and unfussy. Not to be missed—and, even better, free!
The Lotus Temple is open to visitors everyday from Tuesday to Sunday. Visiting hours are from 9 AM to 7 PM (between April 1 and Sept 30) and to 6.30 PM the rest of the year. Prayer services are held daily at 10 AM, noon, 3 PM and 5 PM. A tip: try not to visit during peak summer, when walking barefoot on the hot pavement between the footwear claim section and the temple can be an ordeal.
From journal Delhi: Ten Sights to See for Free
October 25, 2006
From journal Delhi: The Good, the Bad or the Ugly?
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
September 23, 2003
It signifies the purity and the universality of the Lord and equality of all religions. Visited by over four million people annually, this gleaming, lotus-like marble structure is located on Bahapur Hills (South Delhi), and it is the seventh and most recent Bahai house of worship in the world. The temple is a must-visit for every tourist who comes to Delhi.
This structure, completed in 1986, is a marvel of modern architecture. Set amidst pools and gardens, the view of the temple is very spectacular just before dusk when the temple is floodlit.
Anyone is free to visit the temple and pray or meditate silently according to their own religion.
From journal Delhi Delight