After spending a lazy morning, sleeping and celebrating a friend’s birthday in the afternoon, my friend and I headed towards Akshardam, without knowing what was in store. At the entrance, we were asked to keep all our belongings (phones, cameras, etc.) in the cloak room, followed by thorough frisking. It made me wonder why there’s so much checking for a temple.
Inside, Swaminarayan Akshardam was a city in itself. Till today afternoon, I had not even heard of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. But now, I know so much about Him that I can write a book on Him. Thanks to the various exhibitions in Akshardam.
First, we were asked to go to Sahajanand Darshan (Hall of Values). The 50 minute experience was one of a kind. It was an audio animatronics show that consisted of a series of dioramas. Exquisite settings and statues in each diorama are brought to life through robotics, fibre optics, light and sound effects, dialogues and music; transporting us to 18th century India. Sculpting one’s life for happiness, success and peace of mind is the principal theme of this exhibition. This show reminded me of the movie, “Night at the Museum”
The Boat Ride reminded me of my History books! In less than 15 minutes, the ride tries to showcase the entire Ancient Indian History, right from the Vedic age. There are very interesting depictions of Vedic Bazaars, Takshashila (World’s first university), Rishis who shaped the world and other depictions of Indian culture.
The 15 minute Musical fountain is a treat to the eyes and ears.
Akshardam has an Imax theatre inside, where a 40 minute movie on the life of Bhagwan Swaminarayan is screened. Apparently, at the age of 11, He began a pilgrimage across India, covering 12000 km on foot. The movie beautifully depicts this phase of His life.
Read about Bhagwan Swaminarayan, here.
The Mandir is the best part of Akshardam. It is deemed by Reader’s Digest as one of the seven wonders of the 21st century and rightfully so.
The inner sanctum looks royal and inspires peace and happiness.
Each of the nine domes are magnificent.
The external praharam of the mandir is multi-layered. The external wall has thousands of ornately carved stone sculptures. There is one separate layer completely made of bronze, depicting incidents from Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life.
The most striking layer is the Elephant plinth, that has 148 life sized elephants, weighing close to 3000 ton.
We spent close to six hours in the campus and yet couldn’t cover it fully!
By the way, you can find all this information and more, at www.akshardam.com