Inside BAPS mandir, the first Hindu temple in UAE, to be inaugurated by PM Modi

On 14 February, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to inaugurate a major temple in Abu Dhabi, a few weeks after he consecrated the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

The BAPS Mandir is the first Hindu temple in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital’s Abu Mureikhah neighbourhood.

The UAE has three other Hindu temples that are located in Dubai. The BAPS temple, spread over a large area with stone architecture, will be the largest of all in the Gulf region.

Here’s all we know about the temple.

About the BAPS temple in Abu Dhabi

In 2015, during PM Modi’s first visit, the UAE decided to allot land in Abu Dhabi for the construction of a temple, according to News18.

Being the first Indian prime minister to visit this strategically important Gulf state in 34 years — after Indira Gandhi — the PM’s visit was crucial diplomatically.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi accepts the invitation to inaugurate the BAPS Hindu Mandir, Abu Dhabi on 14 February. PTI

The PM inaugurated the temple project in February 2018, and construction on it started in December 2019.

The temple’s consecration ceremony is scheduled for 14 February  2024, which coincides with the holy Basant Panchami.

Its construction and architecture

The BAPS Hindu temple, rising majestically amid Abu Dhabi’s desert sands, is presently undergoing the final touches.

According to PTI, the temple, which spans 27 acres of land in Abu Mureikhah, near Al Rahba along the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway, is constructed at a cost of Rs 700 crore.

The enormous complex boasts remarkable measurements: 32.92 metres (108 feet) high, 79.86 metres (262 feet) long, and 54.86 metres (180 feet) wide.

A large amphitheatre, prayer rooms, a gallery, a library, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, gift shop, children’s play area, a majlis, and two community halls that can accommodate 5,000 people are just a few of the temple’s extensive facilities.

The temple is being built using a marble façade and pink sandstone with intricate carvings that were brought from northern Rajasthan, as per the news agency.

Ambassadors and Diplomats from 42 countries visit BAPS Hindu Mandir, in Abu Dhabi, UAE. PTI

“The choice of these stones, known for their durability against scorching temperatures reaching up to 50 degrees Celsius, reflects the practical considerations for the UAE’s climate.,” PTI quoted Som Singh, a Rajasthan artisan who sculpted statues for the temple and later moved to the UAE to work at the site, as saying.

Fly ash was included into the foundation’s concrete mix as part of an environmentally minded strategy to lessen carbon emissions. It is pertinent to mention here that this project differs as it is the first traditional Hindu temple to undergo extensive digital modelling and seismic simulation, as per Financial Express.

The temple’s foundation incorporates 100 sensors, while over 350 sensors are strategically placed throughout the structure, continuously gathering data on earthquake activity, temperature fluctuations, and pressure changes, as per the report.

Marble carvings using more than 25,000 pieces of stone have been crafted against a sandstone backdrop. There are two Ghumats (domes), seven Shikhars (spires) that signify UAE’s seven emirates, 12 Samrans (dome-like structures) and 402 pillars.

The temple’s design draws inspiration from Vedic architecture and sculptures. According to PTI, each Shikhar has intricate carvings depicting stories from the Ramayana, Shiv Purana, Bhagavatam and Mahabharata as well as narratives of Lord Jagannath, Lord Swaminarayan, Lord Venkateshwara and Lord Ayyappa.

Ambassadors and Diplomats from 42 countries visit BAPS Hindu Mandir, in Abu Dhabi, UAE. PTI

Camels, a representation of persistence, commitment, and endurance, have been carved into the sculptures to add a uniquely local touch. The “Dome of Harmony” serves as a unique portrayal of harmony of the five natural elements – earth, water, fire, air and space.

Madhusudan Patel, the temple’s construction manager, told PTI, “Our journey during the construction has been a blend of innovation and overcoming challenges.” He revealed that heat-resistant nano tiles and heavy glass panels have been used to merge both traditional aesthetic stone structures with modern-day ones.

The temple has been made of 40,000 cubic metres of marble, including Italian marble, 180,000 cubic metres of sandstone, and over 1.8 million bricks. Vishal Brahabhatt, who supervises procurement and logistics at the site, said more than two lakh cubic feet of “sacred” stone has been transported in more than 700 containers for the temple construction.

The PM inaugurated the temple project in February 2018, and construction on it started in December 2019. PTI

About the organisation

The Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha is known by its acronym, BAPS. The late 1700s religious guru Bhagwan Swaminarayan is the inspiration behind the organisation’s name.

According to the BAPS website, it is a socio-spiritual Hindu religion with origins in the vedas that was founded in 1907 by Shastriji Maharaj (1865–1951) and pioneered by Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781–1830) in the late 18th century.

The BAPS asserts that it manages 1,100 temples and 3,850 units globally. The BAPS is also in charge of the Akshardham temples in Gujarat and Delhi.

The organisation was also responsible for the construction of the largest Hindu temple outside of India, Akshardham, in Robbinsville, New Jersey. Situated 99 miles south of New York City, Akshardham Mahamandir occupies 185 acres in New Jersey and rises to a height of 191 feet.  1.9 million cubic feet of stone were used and transported from over 29 various locations across the globe, including Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and India, to build the temple.

With inputs from PTI

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