Thursday, December 10, 2009

Imagine All the People Living Life in Peace – The Bahá’í Temple

Was John Lennon inspired by the Bahá’í Faith when he penned the lyrics of the song ‘Imagine’. He and the Prophet founder of the faith Bahá’u’lláh, who said “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens,” seem to have a lot in common.

I was in Delhi for a short visit and made a visit to the Bahá'í Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, better known as the "Lotus Temple" ( Kamal Mandir as the auto drivers of Delhi know it). As you approach the temple, one gets the first glimpse as the road takes a curve, and you gasp. Then it goes out of sight till you are almost there.

As you walk into their premises, every step, seems to be the ideal photo op. Cameras, mobile phones all work overtime. People who may otherwise be camera shy request you to take their picture with the temple in the background.

Constructed to resemble a lotus flower, the temple made of marble, cement, dolomite and sand stands on 26 acres of land, . The Persian architect Fariborz Sahba from Canada, created the beautiful structure composed of 27 free-standing marble clad "petals" arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. Nine pools encompass the building and nine doors open on to a central hall.

The structure is slightly more than 40 metres tall and it took 800 engineers, technicians, workers and artisans almost ten years to complete the task. At a lecture at Yale, the architecht is reported to have said that the temple was built with primitive methods, but the dedication of the workers more than made up for the lack of technology available at that time. The doors of the temple were thrown open to the public in December 1986

As we approach the temple, we are requested to remove our footwear and maintain silence within the main inner hall. Volunteers of different nationalities guide the tourists. ‘You may sit as long as you wish. You may belong to any religion, but you are free to pray ’ . Photography is not permitted inside and therefore one could not capture the beautifully structured dome. No idols, no noise, no bells, no chants. It is so peaceful and the silence unconsciously nudges you into closing your eyes in prayer. What is more amazing is that the average Indian known for his noisy demeanour is silent without being monitored. Such is the effect of the magnificent structure .

The building uses natural light that streams through the inner folds of the petals of the temple, and the construction is based on the Mughal ventilation technique and has an amazing inflow of fresh air and therefore banishes the need for an AC – that is conspicuous by its absence.

As we walk out, we are asked if we have the time to visit the museum at the other end which houses literature of the faith and pictures of the Bahá’í places of worship in other parts of the world. It is worth a quick visit, and if you have more time, view the video that shows the construction of the temple at different stages.

I did not feel the need to be a Bahá’í to appreciate their ideology. I guess all peace loving individuals feel that way. I wish all places of worship were like the Bahá'í Mashriqu'l-Adhkar temple – clean surroundings, peaceful and quiet – conducive to meditation and prayer.

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one


  1. Nicely written.I had gone there with family when I was residing there.I share your views.
    Thanks for visiting my blog.I was away on tight work for three weeks at Delhi ,a week at Bangalore and sick for a week at Chennai.That explains my dormant blog.I will resume posting stories by week end
    Pl write to me

  2. Wish I had gone inside! We turned back because of the long queue and the summer heat!

  3. Beautiful. You have given the details about this temple very nicely.

  4. I have visited this temple, long back. But don't remember it in such detail. You have explained the structure, very nicely.

    'What is more amazing is that the average Indian known for his noisy demeanour is silent without being monitored. Such is the effect of the magnificent structure'. I too had noticed it! I remember sitting there for qute sometime.

  5. I saw it when we lived there in 80's and its a beautiful sight.

    about keeping and maintaining the silence, I think its the same with cleaning also, if a place is very spic and span, everyone will hesitate to litter it.

  6. Lovely description of the Baha'i Temple, Radha!

    Nice pictures- the structure looks magnificent!

  7. Good, informative post with nice pics.
    I like the url of your blog so much :-)

  8. I have been to the Lotus Temple with my family 20 years ago but the memory is still fresh. I remember the pristine, clean grounds, the beautiful lotus shape of the temple, the big but serene space inside. You brought my visit there back to life.
    On a funny note, my dad lost his shoes there, because he put them in with some visiting students who were not with out tour bus and couldn't get them back in time for us to leave.

  9. Am I wrong or did they chose the Lotus shape because it is a common theme across India?

  10. Jaya - Yes, you are - their site site - says the choice of the lotus structure is because it is the symbol of beauty and purity, representative of divinity rising up pure and unsullied from stagnant water, the lotus represents the manifestation of God. The architect used this ancient Indian symbol to create the design.
    And for the shoes - that's funny, they do keep shoes of a large group all together in a sack !

    KParthasarthi,Rajesh,Sandhya,Manju,Kallu - Thank you. And Kallu - the url of the site was on an impulse - one of the names my daughter calls me by!

  11. Nice post. When we visited Delhi last time we went to Akshardham. On our next visit Baha'i Temple will be a definite must.

  12. i like the song.nice yr style of writg

  13. Great place!
    I haven't been to Delhi yet, after reading this I have to add this place to my must see list of Delhi. :)

  14. Have you been to Iskon temples or the Birla temples they are equally clean and peaceful. I had been to Delhi long back and I have not seen the temple. I wish to go there for sure.

  15. SG, Lakshmi- Thanks

    Indrani - you must and post your story on Ishare.

    Chaitali - I have been to ISKON temples and the Birla Temple too. Yes, they are clean but I guess they are on a smaller area and there are millions of devotees around. I also like the Chinmaya Temple - so conducive to meditation!


Would love to know what you have to say:

Related Posts with Thumbnails