The Swaminarayan Akshardham temple on the banks of the River Yamuna is a wonder of sorts. It is actually with awe that one realizes that the temple which could easily be mistaken for an ancient rock cut edifice from the Indian history is a modern 21st century making. – 2005 to be precise. The temple in brief can be described as a summation of history, beliefs, ideals, tenets & occurrences of nearly 10,000 years old Indian culture curated and exhibited under one roof. It will be simplistic to call it one roof as the temple spreads around a total of 30 acres and the lush garden spreading another 60 acres. The name Akshardham means eternal and abode of the Divine. It is as one looks at the gigantic dome arising into the sky, one is transported back into time, the hustle and bustle of the street outside is a distant dream. It takes some momentous time to take in all the sites – the structure using red, pink sandstone from Rajasthan and white marble, the beautiful almost springing with life carvings. Each expression caught to perfection, it is inspired by the Nagara style of Temple Architecture, traced to the 5th century. What makes it attractive is the wonderful combination of materials, symbols and aesthetics. Each flower carved, each panel, each stone animal or figure of God, Sadhu (ascetic) or holy men carved has a meaning behind it - which is symbolic and philosophical.
Location – It is an approximate distance of 15 kms from Connaught Place. It is just across the bridge over the Yamuna river. Had the river Yamuna flowed through in its pristine glory, the sight across the river would have been an unforgettable one. One can see the temple from afar. It is on N H 24, Noida Mor.
Timings - 10:00 am to 7 pm (April- Sept) and 9:00 am to 6 pm (Oct. – March), Night lighting on Saturdays and Sundays. The temple is closed on Monday. Entry is free though there is a small charge to view the two exhibitions and large format film. No electronic cameras or cell phones allowed inside. Parking space is substantial.
Highlight - For the purpose of records, the mammoth temple is 141 ft high, 316 ft wide and 356 ft long. It has a total of 234 ornately carved pillars, 9 ornate domes, 20 samvarans (crowns), four entrance doors, intricately carved outer wall and two plinths, the awe inspiring Gajendra Peeth and a total of 20,000 statues of great devotees, asetics and acharyas of India carved on it.
Insider Tip - One needs an entire day to see the place thoroughly and can still come back dissatisfied. The food served at the inhouse restaurant is wonderful The souvenir shop stocks interesting products including handicrafts – good embroidery and beadwork, and organic products – honey, tea and more.