Lakshmi Narayan Temple (Birla Mandir)
The Lakshmi Narayan Temple also spelled as 'Laxminarayan' Temple and also known to many as the famous 'Birla Mandir' lies west of Connaught Place amidst the busy streets of Delhi and is easily accessible via local transport. In fact tourists or visitors can de-board at R. K. Ashram Metro station which is approximately 2 kms. away from the Temple.
The Lakshmi Narayan Temple was originally constructed by Raja Baldev Das Birla in 1938 as a dedication to Goddess Lakshmi who is known as the consort of Lord Vishnu and the 'Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity'. Since then, the Birla Family has continuously showered contributions towards the upkeep of the temple and hence the name 'Birla Mandir' was derived in their honour. In fact the Birla Family have numerous Hindu Temples constructed across the country in different cities which are built of beautiful and expensive white marble.
The Birla Mandir was built in a span of 6 years and inaugurated by the legendary 'Father of the Nation', Mahatma Gandhi Ji who agreed to do so only if people from all Hindu religious sects and other religious sects including the poor, the outcaste and untouchables were allowed to enter and worship too. This action created a new wave in the history of Delhi which transformed the Birla Temple into one of the most attractive, popular, secular and visited places in Delhi.
Birla Temple was constructed in the typical Orissa style of architecture with neat curved towers tapering to the top which are capped with beautifully carved circular ribbed motifs. The highest tower tapers at a height of 165 ft., while the supportive towers present on either side tapers at a height of 116 ft. These towers are supported by an elevated platform and face the east. The exterior section of the temple is made of red sandstone and marble depicted through noticeable Spires and Jalis which is seen in most the Mughal architecture in Delhi while the interior overlooks a two-storey Veranda on three sides with beautiful fountains and well manicured gardens at its rear end.
The entrance into the Lakshmi Narayan Temple is through a flight of steps that welcomes you into an interior that reveals elaborate and intricate carvings depicting scenes from the Hindu mythological epics. Symbols and Quotes from the Holy Book 'Bhagavad Gita' and the 'Upanishads' are also seen embossed around the interiors of the temple walls. All the Idols of the Gods and Goddesses seen within the temple complex are made of marble specially ordered from Jaipur.
The Lakshmi Narayan Temple homes the shrines of the Holy Vedas though the main and principle shrine is that of Goddess Lakshmi followed by the shrine of Lord Narayan. These Shrines are supported by smaller Idols of Goddess Durga Maa, Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha and Lord Hanuman present on either side. The Geeta Bhawan lies towards the north of the Lakshmi Narayan Temple and is dedicated to Lord Krishna while another temple dedicated to Lord Buddha also lies within the Temple complex and is decorated with greatly enlarged photographs attached directly to the wall depicting the life, work and teachings of Lord Buddha.
The Lakshmi Narayan Temple complex also homes miniature temples made of rock and manmade land spaces adorn with small hills and waterfalls that add to the splendid ambience of the temple and has become a main attraction with children and tourists. This temple is opened on all days from early mornings to late evenings and is a must visit during the festival seasons of Durga Puja and Janamashtami or the Birth anniversary of Lord Krishna when it is seen decorated with colourful festoons and filled with religious celebrations and activities.