12 Years, 12,500 Volunteers, 4.7 Mln Work Hours, 183 Acres: BAPS Opens Largest Temple In The US
India-West Staff Reporter
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ – The Swaminarayan Akshardham temple was inaugurated on October 8. Sitting on a massive 185-acre plot in Robbinsville County of New Jersey, a short distance from Trenton, the temple was built by 12,500 volunteer workers from all over the world. The temple has been in the works since 2011.
This Akshardham is the third for Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, known as BAPS, – the other two are in Delhi and Gujarat – and was built with 2 million cubic feet of stone. No small feat.
The temple itself is a cultural mix with materials sourced from all over the world. It also gives historical nods to American history. Along the temple walls are carvings of historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln.
To withstand cold New Jersey winters (anything between -5-degree C to -20-degree C), the outside of the temple has been built with non-traditional Bulgarian limestone. The inside features of the temple bear testimony to the stones imported from all over the world, ranging from Greece, Italy to India.
A traditional Indian stepwell contains waters from 300 sacred river bodies in India and all river waters from all 50 US states of the union.
The grand dedication ceremony saw fireworks illuminate the night sky and hundreds of dancers perform on the steps and grounds of the new temple.
In his blessings, the head of BAPS Mahant Swami Maharaj stated, “It was Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s divine wish to construct an Akshardham in North America, where people can come and visit, irrespective of race, creed or religion.”
Governor John Carney of Delaware shared his admiration for the message of the evening. “I was struck by what was said by the Swami just before that the temple is a bridge, a bridge from the past to the future, a bridge from India to America, a bridge from one community to the next. It is an incredible place of devotion.”