Akshardham is a Hindu temple complex in Delhi, India. Also referred to as Delhi Akshardham or Swaminarayan Akshardham, the complex displays 10,000 years of traditional Indian and Hindu culture, spirituality, and architecture. The building was inspired and moderated by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual head of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, whose 3,000 volunteers helped 7,000 artisans construct Akshardham.
The temple, which attracts 70 percent of all tourists who visit Delhi, was officially opened on 6 November 2005. It sits on the banks of the Yamuna River adjacent to the proposed 2010 Commonwealth Games village. The monument features a large central monument crafted entirely of stone, exhibitions on incidents from the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the history of India, an IMAX feature, a musical fountain, and large landscaped gardens.
The building had been planned since 1968 as a vision of Yogiji Maharaj. Yogiji Maharaj, the spiritual head of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha at the time, expressed his desire for wanting a grand temple built on the banks of the Yamuna river, to two or three devotee families of Swaminarayan Bhagwan that resided in New Delhi at the time. Attempts were made but little progress happened, and by 1971 Yogiji Maharaj passed away. By 1982, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who was next in line as the spiritual head of BAPS, started to continue fulfilling the dream of his guru, Yogiji Maharaj, and prompted the devotees to look into the possibility of building the temple in Delhi. A request for the plan was put forward to the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), and several different places were suggested, such as Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Faridabad.
It is situated on NH 24, Noida Mor, New Delhi, India. You can reach there by metro, taxi, auto rickshaws
- Hall of Values Named Sahajanand Pradarshan, the Hall of Values features life-like robotics and dioramas which display incidents from Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life, portraying his message of peace, harmony, humility, service to others and devotion to God. The hall features the world’s smallest animatronic robot in the form of Ghanshyam Maharaj, the child form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
- Theatre Named Nilkanth Kalyan Yatra, the theatre houses Delhi’s first and only large format screen, measuring 85-foot (26 m) by 65-foot (20 m). The theatre shows a film especially commissioned for the complex, Nilkanth Yatra, to recount the journey Bhagwan Swaminarayan made during his teenage years throughout India. An international version of the film called Mystic India was released in 2005 at IMAX and giant screen cinemas worldwide. A 27-foot (8.2 m) tall bronze statue of Nilkanth Varni is outside the theatre.
- Boat ride Named Sanskruti Vihar, this ride takes visitors on a journey through 10,000 years of Indian history in approximately 10 minutes. Visitors sit in specially designed peacock shaped boats that make their way around an artificial river, passing the world’s first university, chemistry laboratories, ancient hospitals, and bazaars, finally ending with a message for the future of India.
- Musical fountain Known as the Yagnapurush Kund, it is India’s largest step well. It features a very large series of steps down to a traditional ‘yagna kund’. During the day, these steps provide rest for the visitors to the complex and at night, a musical fountain show representing the circle of life is played to an audience which is seated on the same steps. The fountain is named after the founder of the Hindu organization, Shastriji Maharaj.
- Garden of India Also known as the Bharat Upavan, this garden has lush manicured lawns, trees, and shrubs. The garden is lined with bronze sculptures of contributors to India’s culture, including Children of India, Women of India, and Heroes of India.
- Other features
- The Yogi Hraday Kamal – This sunken garden, shaped like a lotus when viewed from above features large stones engraved with quotes from world luminaries ranging from Shakespeare and Martin Luther King, to Swami Vivekananda and Bhagwan Swaminarayan.
- Neelkanth Abishek – Devotees offer abhishek, a ritual of pouring water on to the murti of Nilkanth Varni and express their reverence and prayers for spiritual upliftment and fulfillment of wishes.
- Narayan Sarovar – A lake that surrounds the main Akshardham monument. The lake contains holy waters from 151 rivers and lakes sanctified by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, including Mansarovar. Surrounding the Narayan Sarovar are 108 gaumukhs, symbolizing Janmangal Namavali or the 108 names for god, from which holy water issues forth.
- Premvati Ahargruh – A vegetarian restaurant modeled on the Ajanta and Ellora caves in Maharashtra, India and an Ayurvedic bazaar.
- AARSH Centre – Short for Akshardham Centre for Applied Research in Social Harmony, this center, by study-action, will apply research of social harmony and more topics related to this.