The city of Delhi is a bearer of a rich cultural diversity. The architectural heritage of the city is symbolic of this wealth, and how despite the many differences, unity and harmony binds everyone together. Hence, the people in this city still hold a strong attachment to their roots, which is recognizable in the profound culture of Delhi. Spirituality and religion are close to people’s hearts and the several temples of different belief systems are illustrative of that. Be it Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, or Baha’i, all of these varying beliefs, have a place for worship in Delhi. This rare diverseness makes this colorful town a true explorer’s delight. Here’s a list of 5 temples that stand out in the national capital.
1. Akshardham Temple
Photo by Russ Bowling, CC BY 2.0
Built near the banks of river Yamuna, this temple boasts a rather rare architectural brilliance. A popular spot among tourists, the temple is devoted to Swaminarayan Akshardham. The massive structure has been intricately built, which is not only stunning to see, but one can also experience and be charmed by the series of exhibitions that they have lined up for visitors. Besides the main temple, one can buy tickets for the exhibition, which includes visiting a hall (called the hall of values), watching a movie and a boat ride. All of these attractions have been equipped with state of art technology to spread messages of wisdom, and capture the uniqueness and essence of the Indian culture. The lush green garden with huge statues of notable personalities of ancient India and a water show in the evening also add to the attraction.
2. Lotus Temple
Photo by Brady Montz, CC BY-SA 2.0
The Baha’i House of worship or Lotus temple as it is popularly referred to, is as exquisite as its name. Made of white marble, the building is shaped as a blooming lotus and was built in 1986. Located towards the east of Nehru Place, the site is quite frequently visited by tourists. People of all religions and beliefs are welcomed to witness the magnificence and tranquility that the temple has to offer. Unlike other places of religious service, this temple doesn’t have large images, statues or overflows with voices of people chanting a deity’s name; rather the peace that one experience is what makes it stand out. People meditate for hours, inside the temple and feel renewed and energized.
3. Iskcon Temple
Photo by TineImWunderland, CC BY-ND 2.0
Dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radharani the Iskcon temple is illustrative of purity and a deep devotion to the Hindu deity. Built by Achiyut Kanvinde in 1998, this Vaishnav temple’s impressive architecture is noteworthy. Located towards the east of Kailash at Hare Krishna hills, the building complex is large with several halls and rooms. The delicately carved and detailed statues and paintings of Lord Krishna brilliantly depict his life and those times. Besides the main temple, there is a cafeteria, a book shop that sells religious books and other souvenirs to visitors.
4. Birla Mandir
Photo by Dennis Jarvis, CC BY-SA 2.0
Timeless and exceptional, the Laxminaryan temple or Birla mandir is devoted to Hindu gods; goddess Laxmi who is a deity of wealth and lord Vishnu who is regarded as the preserver of life and universe. Within the complex, there is a small place that is dedicated to Lord Buddha and his life. Built in the year 1938 by the well-known Birla family, the structure is constructed with white marble and red sandstone. Situated at Mandir Marg in Connaught Place, the design of the temple is reflective of an amalgamation of varying architectural influences. It was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi on the pre-condition that it shall be open for all people, irrespective of their caste.
5. Chattarpur Mandir
Photo by AHLN, CC BY 2.0
Built in the Meharauli area of Delhi across 60 acres of land is the grand, colossal structure of Chattarpur Mandir. It is considered to be the second largest temple of India. Instituted by Sant Shree Baba Nagpal in the 1970’s, the temple is dedicated to Goddess Katyani, one of the nine forms who are worshipped during the fervently celebrated Navratras. The complex constitutes more than 20 small and large temples devoted several Hindu deities. The elaborate architecture of the complex is built with marble and is popular among tourists who want to explore the richness of Indian culture.
So when in Delhi, walk into one of these temples and be delighted by the spirituality that flows within them. Any traveler’s journey to this megacity would be incomplete without witnessing the magnificence of these temples; for they make Delhi what it is.