Saturday, January 28, 2012

Travel: SWAMINARAYAN TEMPLE AT AKSHARDHAM


Pic courtesy: http://www.akshardham.com

I was very keen to visit Akshardham as I had been totally floored by the pictures I had seen of the temple and it surroundings that have been going around the internet.

Vini and I took the Metro Blue Line that passes through Karol Bagh and takes us directly to Akshardham. One needs to take the Metro line that is going towards Noida City Centre. This is the metro line that goes from Dwarka Sector 21 to Noida City Centre.

We got out of Akshardham Metro Station after checking out huge posters of the temple around the station complex. Taking a cycle rickshaw, we reached the temple complex in ten minutes.

The posters that greet you at Akshardham Metro Station
This was on a Thursday and despite being a week day, there were a number of Indians and foreigners visiting the place. There were also many school students who had come there for a day’s visit.

While the whole area is squeaky clean, there are some strictures that need to be followed.

This scene greets you when you enter the compound. The small building on the left is where you deposit your bags.
On the right is the queue that takes you inside. You can notice the temple tower in the far background.

What IS ALLOWED inside the complex:

1. Water bottle
2. Wallet
3. Shoes

What IS NOT ALLOWED inside the complex:

1. Camera
2. Mobile
3. Any kind of bag – handbag, back-pack, etc
4. Laptop
5. Any kind of electronic equipment

There is a counter where one can deposit these items and take a numbered token. The service is free of cost. I have to mention here that the system is amazingly orchestrated without long queues. I can only say that the people working there are super-efficient.

Inside the main temple. Pic courtesy: http://www.akshardham.com

You are asked to fill a form with complete name and address. They take it along with your bag and click your picture with all electronics removed from the bag and placed on display. That is, the picture will have you, your bag and your electronic equipment. It serves the purpose of security as well as keeping your stuff safe and ensuring that you get it correctly without having to wait. Good show!

I was extremely disappointed that I could not take my camera in, but then that’s how it was. We also did not bother with our wallets as the entry was free. We got to know later that there was a Rs. 170 charge for seeing the exhibition. At the end of our visit, we were quite glad that we did not make the mistake of purchasing this ticket.

They have very clean and neat washroom facilities with running water, again free of cost. Impressive!

This structure shaped like a lotus is simply gorgeous. Pic courtesy: http://www.delhispider.com
We entered the complex and walked a good length to reach the actual temple premises. The walk was beautiful, the weather cold with a weak sun shining on us. We passed through an area with lots of greenery and fountains that were soothing to the eye.

Then we entered the Akshardham office where we got to know of exactly what all things are on offer here. That’s when I realized that one needs at least 5-6 hours to see the whole place and check out all its attractions.

My advice is that one can break it up into 2-3 trips if one has the time as taking it all in at one go might be quite overwhelming.

The main sanctorum with a gold idol of Swaminarayan. Pic courtesy: http://www.akshardham.com
Sandstone and marble have been used throughout. There was the peacock gate that had so many peacocks in different shapes, sizes and poses. It was truly commendable. Vini and I walked quite slowly trying to absorb everything.

Then there was this small square pond with giant-sized sacred feet of Swaminarayan. People were throwing coins into this pond. We walked a bit further to reach the actual temple. Here, they had provision for leaving our shoes behind. Again, this service was free of cost and well-orchestrated.

Elephant idols around the first prahar - this one is of Irawat, the celestial elephant belonging to Lord Indra. Pic courtesy: http://www.akshardham.com

We had to climb about 40 steps to the sanctorum. The carvings were simply gorgeous. But as you keep looking around, soon you kind of feel blinded by the grandeur. Usually, what have a soothing effect on one at a temple are the many pillars that depict a synchronization that calms the mind. Here, there were more than hundred pillars holding together many arched ceilings, forming mandaps. Every one of them had a different set of carvings that kind of had a jarring effect on my nerves. The main sanctorum itself was built in the lines of a Buddha Vihar and was extremely flamboyant – with marble, gold embellishment and even semi-precious stones in the carvings. I would go so far as to say that it was ‘overkill’.

I believe that a visit to a temple should bring about peace into one’s being. A treat of art and culture, most definitely yes!

Gaumukh spouting water around the third prahar - there are 108 of them. Pic courtesy: http://www.akshardham.com
Here, there was just toooooooo much. The immediate prahar outside has elephant carvings. Vini refused to walk with me as she was already overflowing with too much. I walked around quite fast as I could understand most of the elephant scenes that were depicted from tales that I have heard from my grandparents. But for a novice, it is bound to be mind-blowing, literally.

There were a couple of more prahars that we did not go around as we were already tired and overwhelmed. That’s when we both felt happy that we had not bought tickets for the spiritual exhibition. We were also quite hungry by then as we had been there for over three hours. We left after collecting our bags, left rather unsatisfied with the experience.


For visitors:

1. Metro Blue Line to Akshardham Station is the closest metro point to the temple.
2. Bags, camera, mobile or any electronic equipment a strict No-No.
3. Entry to the temple is free of cost.
4. Rs. 170 is charged for the exhibition inside – this consists of a film on the Neelkanth, musical fountain, a boat-ride and more. This will be a duration of 2½ hours.
5. Food is available for purchase inside the complex along with bottled water.
6. Drinking water taps are there and so also clean washroom facilities.
7. Late evening will probably be a great time to visit as the lighting is supposedly amazing.
8. The temple opens at 9.30 am while the last entry into the complex is at 6.30 pm. You will need 2-3 hours to see just the complex without the exhibition.
9. It probably will make sense to get the whole experience in 2 to 3 trips as there is just too much to absorb.
10. If you want to catch the maximum at one go, then probably its best that you land up there between 2 and 3 pm. That way, you see everything and don’t miss out on the lighting experience in the late evening.
11. They are closed on Mondays.

Websitehttp://www.akshardham.com 

9 comments:

  1. Awesome...a beautiful review...:)

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  2. Sun this seems to be very similar to the Sripuram Golden Temple in Vellore, even to the point of the water spouts and lotus pattern
    But from your review, i feel that we will like the Sripuram temple better cos though the area is quite huge, it definitely does not overwhelm you like what you have mentioned about Akshardham!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I remember your talking about this Golden Temple visit along with Jayu. I hope to catch it sometime :)

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  3. You have complete guide on Akshardham I like this article Me also visit here its very beautiful Thanks please keep share useful knowledge with us Regarding
    Rajasthan Tourism

    India

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is the metro line that goes from Dwarka Sector 21 to Noida City Centre.http://www.stockholmfreetour.com

    ReplyDelete