The BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

PHOTO BY BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha

Hand-carved Hindu stone temple in Abu Dhabi to open to public on February 18

The region’s first hand-carved traditional Hindu stone temple is opening to the public on February 18, but a grand opening will be done on February 14.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the BAPS Hindu Mandir on February 14 with a unique “Festival of Harmony,” according to BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, the organization that built the temple.

Organizers said there has been huge public demand to visit the temple, which is why UAE residents are urged to visit from March 1 onwards to avoid huge crowds of foreign visitors.

The BAPS Hindu Mandir is expected to be one of the largest and most beautiful Hindu temples outside of India and the largest Hindu temple in west Asia.

It is the first Hindu temple in UAE and is located in Abu Dhabi’s Abu Mureikha area and is a testament to the UAE’s position as one of the most tolerant countries in the world. Construction of the temple began on December 2019.

It is considered an architectural marvel because it was constructed without steel reinforcements. Using traditional Indian architecture that is 10,000 years old, the temple and its components are all carved and hand-pieced together without using any steel.

It took 1.8 million bricks to complete the temple, according to BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. Its exterior walls are made of pink sandstone, while its interior has marble walls.

The temple houses Hindu deities and features hand-carved marble sculptures depicting 14 stories from ancient civilisations, considered the first of its kind in a Hindu temple. The sculptures also feature camels and horses as homage to the UAE. The two-storey structure is topped by seven spires above the stone murals to represent the seven emirates.

An impressive dune structure made with sand from all seven emirates of the UAE will greet visitors as they enter the temple. The structure was created as a tribute to the vision of the Sanstha’s late spiritual leader, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who, while in the middle of a desert in Sharjah in 1997, wished for a temple to be built in Abu Dhabi.

The Hindu temple sits on 5.4 hectares of land that was donated to the Indian community in the UAE by President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan when he was Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in 2015. The temple complex can accommodate up to 2,000 worshippers.

The Hindu temple has a temple complex with a community centre, exhibition hall, visitor centre, food court, parks, amphitheater, water features, parking for cars and buses, and two helipads.

The temple also has canals, and a waterway that is illuminated. The water in these canals reportedly come from the Indian rivers of Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati, said Pranav Desai, director of the temple project. ICA/Expat Media

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