The Akshardham Mandir is known as the largest Hindu Temple Complex in India located next to National Highway 24 and Noida Mor in Uttar Pradesh which lies within the National Capital Territory of Delhi and is easily accessible by local transport and from the newly inaugurated Akshardham Metro Station that forms the latest Blue line cord of the intercity rail network that links East Delhi with all the Trans-Yamuna areas.
The Akshardham Mandir is also known by the name of Swaminarayan Akshardham Mandir that was conceptualised in 1968 by Yogi Ji Maharaj who was the spiritual head of BAPS Swaminarayan community and had immense desire to create a Temple Complex beside the banks of the Holy Yamuna River in New Delhi. Attempts were made but unfortunately Yogiji Maharaj passed away in 1971 with hardly any progress.
In 1982, the successor of Yogiji Maharaj named Pramukh Swami Maharaj took this dream further and appealed to all the devotees about the establishment of this Temple Complex and a proposal was made to DDA who suggested several regions including Faridabad, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad. However, Pramukh Swami Maharaj stood firm by his decision to have a place next to the Yamuna River as to fulfil the dream of his Guru and after 18 years in the month of April in 2000, DDA gave a massive expanse of land measuring 60 acres and Uttar Pradesh gave 30 acres of land to Pramukh Maharaj Ji for the construction of a Temple Complex which was sanctified by Pramukh Maharaj Ji through a Puja. Construction began on 8th November 2000 and was completed in 2005 with the assistance of 7,000 labourers, 3,000 volunteers supervised by 8 Sages assigned by Maharaj Ji.
The Swaminarayan Akshardham Mandir was inaugurated on 6th November 2005 and stands elegantly amidst the vast expanse of well manicured lawn and gardens embedded with beds of flowers, plants and shady trees. It is designed in a typical ancient style of Indian architecture as seen in numerous ancient sacred Temples in India. It lies just adjacent to the 2010 Commonwealth Games Village Site beside the banks of the Yamuna River as Yogiji Maharaj had desired. The Central Monumental structure completely made of stone within the heart of the Temple Complex was built with Pancharatra and Vastu Shastra compliance. This magnificent structure speaks volumes of the century old cultural, traditional and religious heritage of India that reflects the beauty, grandness and brilliance of the divinity, virtues and eternal values of India.
The Mandir section of this Temple Complex was constructed with the total absence of steel that stands tall at a height of 141.3 feet, 316 feet wide and 356 feet long. It is made with a blend of pink stone that symbolises devotion and white marble that symbolises eternal peace and divine purity. It depicts 9 ornate 'Domes' or 'Mandapams' and 234 ornate pillars, 20 quadrangle shaped Shikhars, Elephant Pith or Gajendra Pith and 20,000 statues depicting figures of Legendary Sages, Devotees and Devine personalities along with embellishment of statues of animals and birds seen within the inner and outer walls of this Mandir.
The inner sanctum of this Temple Complex holds a stunning divine statue of Bhagwan Swaminarayan that stands 11 feet tall and statues of Guru Parampara named Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami, Bhagat Ji Maharaj, Shastri Ji Maharaj, Yogi Ji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj considered of religious significance as every prayer is answered here. Deities of Sanatan Dharma, Shri SitaRam, Shri RadhaKrishna, Shri LakshmiNarayan and Shri ShivParvati along with 24 Keshav Statues of God are also installed within this sanctum.
The external wall of the Akshardham Mandir is known as 'Vibhuti Mandovar' which is the only and largest Mandovar that has been intricately carved in the past 800 years measuring 611 x 31 feet that depicts over 200 beautifully sculpted stone figures of Devine incarnations, Great Indian Sages and Devotees. It has 4,287 carved stones which includes the Kumbhstar that has 48 ornate statues of Shri Ganesh Ji alone.
The Bronze Relief Work known as the Narayan Pith within the Complex showcases the life accounts of Bhagwan Swaminarayan while the Gajendra Pith or Elephant Pith is one of the most stunning features of the Mandir that showcases the Kingdom of Elephants intricately carved over an ornate pink stone measuring 1,070 feet long and weighs 3,000 tons revealing 148 life size Elephants, 125 Human Sculptures and 42 figures of animals and birds standing amidst a backdrop of Palaces, Trees and Creeper Plants.
The Narayan Sarovar which means 'Sacred Water Lake' is a must see as it will definitely transform anyone into a divine state. This Lake was sanctified by Bhagwan Swaminarayan and surrounds the main Akshardham Mandir that holds sacred water from 151 lakes and rivers and lotus flowers while 108 Gaumukhs or Name of Gods surround this lake that reflects purity and divinity. The statue of Neelkanth Abhishek is also worshipped by devotees who offer prayers by pouring water in order to have their wish granted.
The Two-Tiered Parikrama or Colonnade of the Swaminarayan Akshardham Mandir is made of red sandstone that was specially ordered from Rajasthan. It depicts 1,152 Pillars, 154 Samvaran Shikhars and 145 windows that collectively accounts to 53,956 number of stones that were used stretching over 3,000 feet long. The Hall of Values or Fame features messages about the ancient cultural heritage of India through 3-D presentation of the works of Bhagwan Swaminarayan while a Massive size Film Screen measuring 85 x 65 feet showcases films on Neelkanth Darshan that welcome devotees and visitors with a stunning 27 feet tall Bronze Statue of Neelkanth Varni at the entrance.
The Sanskruti Vihar offer visitors with a 12-minute boat ride to witness the ten thousand years of the Glorious Heritage of India. Everyone can enjoy a ride through 'Savor', which is the oldest Vedic Bazaar and Village in the World, Takshashila which is the First University in the World and ancient inventions and discoveries of the Great Legendary Sages of India.
The Musical Fountain also known as Yagnapurush Kund was named after the 3rd Successor of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the founder of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha named Swami Yagnapurushdasji. This Musical Fountain is considered as the largest fountain in the world measuring 300 x 300 feet constructed with 2,870 steps and 108 Shrines. It holds a central Lotus Shaped Yagna Kund with 8 petals while the Garden of India or Bharat Upvan features a Yogihriday Kamal or a sunken garden constructed in the shape of a lotus with stone engravings of famous quotes from great personalities from Swami Vivekananda to Shakespeare and Martin Luther King to Bhagwan Swaminarayan. It has well trimmed lawns, Flower beds of Garden and Bronze statues of Political and eminent personalities of India.
The Akshardham Mandir welcomes people from all walks of Life irrespective of their caste, creed or religious background. Every Visitor is strictly screened before entering due to security reasons and Electronic Gadgets, Mobiles, Cameras, Alcohol, Food items, Pets and Impolite and Rude Language are not allowed within the premises of the Temple Complex.
The Temple Complex is closed on all Mondays and is opened from April to September between 1000 hours and 1900 hours and Exhibitions between 1100 hours and 1830 hours while the Musical Fountain Show can be enjoyed at 1930 hours. However, from October to March, the timings are between 0900 hours and 1800 hours and Exhibitions between 1000 hours and 1730 hours while the Musical Fountain can be viewed at 1830 hours. Visitors can view Night lighting every Saturdays and Sundays only and shop at the Souvenir Shop from 0900 hours to 2000 hours or enjoy delectable food at the Premvati Restaurant between 1100 hours and 2000 hours.
Entry into the premises of the Akshardham Complex, Mandir and Gardens are free; however, to view the Hall of Values, Boat Ride and Theatre, an amount of INR 125.00 per Adult is charged while Senior Citizens and Children enjoy a concessional rate of INR 75.00 between 4 and 12 years old per head and free for Children below 4 years old. An amount of INR 20.00 is charged for anyone above 12 years old and INR 10.00 for anyone below 12 years old to view the Musical Fountain. Parking facilities are also available at reasonable rates of INR 20.00 for three-wheelers and four-wheelers, INR 10.00 for two-wheelers, INR 50.00 for Minibuses and INR 100.00 for Coaches or Luxury Buses. A Cloakroom, Visitor Centre, Wheelchair, Telephone Booth, Lost and Found Department are other important facilities and services provided within the Temple Complex. The small Sanctum of the Temple Complex is closed due to renovations as a fire broke out in June 2009 destroying 6 Idols and the 11 feet tall Statue of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. However, other than the Mandir, the rest of the attractions within the premises of Swaminarayan Akshardham Complex are opened to public viewing.