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  • Context (IE): During a two-day visit to UAE, PM Narendra Modi inaugurated the BAPS Swaminarayan temple in Abu Dhabi.
  • The BAPS temple is the first Hindu temple in the UAE.
  • It is built at an estimated cost of Rs 700 crore.
  • It is located in the Abu Mureikha area, about 50 km from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
  • The land for the temple complex has been built was gifted by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan (President of the UAE) in 2015.
  • It is Spread over 27 acres, and the temple complex is on 13.5 acres.
  • It was first envisioned by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, in 1997.

New Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi to support digital experience - Edge Middle East

About BAPS

  • BAPS stands for Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (A Vaishnav sect of Hinduism), a Hindu denomination within the Swaminarayan Sampradaya.
  • The organisation was founded in 1907 by Shastriji Maharaj.
  • BAPS is a socio-spiritual Hindu faith with roots in the Vedas.
  • Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830) revealed the faith in the late 18th century
  • BAPS has a network of around 1,550 temples across the world.
  • Notable Temples: It includes the Akshardham temples in New Delhi and Gandhinagar and Swaminarayan temples in London, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta, Toronto, Los Angeles, and Nairobi.

Architecture of the Temple

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  • It is Built in the traditional Nagara style with seven shikhars.
    • The shikhara is adorned with depictions of deities such as Venkateshwara, Swaminarayan, Jagannath, and Ayyappa.
  • The temple’s front panel depicts universal values, stories of harmony from different cultures, Hindu spiritual leaders and avatars.
  • The temple has two central domes, the Dome of Harmony and the Dome of Peace, emphasising human coexistence through the carvings of earth, water, fire, air, and plants.
  • A Wall of Harmony, one of the most enormous 3D-printed walls in the UAE, features a video showcasing critical milestones of the temple’s construction.
  • No ferrous material (which is more vulnerable to corrosion) has been used in the temple.
  • The external facade uses pink sandstone from Rajasthan, and the interior uses Italian marble.
  • There are 96 bells and gaumukhs installed around the path leading to the temple.
    • These 96 bells are a tribute to Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s 96 years of life.
  • Nano tiles have been used, which will be comfortable for visitors to walk on even in the hot weather.
  • There is a particular pillar called the ‘Pillar of Pillars, which has around 1,400 small pillars carved into it.
  • Buildings surrounding the temple are modern and monolithic, with their colour resembling dunes.
  • Deities from all four corners of India have been featured in the temple.
  • A ‘holy river’ surrounds it, for which waters from Ganga and Yamuna have been brought in.
    • The river Saraswati has been depicted in the form of white light.
    • A Varanasi-like ghat has been created where the ‘Ganga’ passes.

Significance of the Temple

  • Represents cultural unity and cooperation.
  • Symbolizes mutual respect and cooperation between India and UAE.
  • Seven shikhara represent seven Emirates of UAE.
  • A Wall of Harmony features a video showcasing critical milestones of the temple’s construction.
    • The word ‘harmony’ has been written in 30 different ancient and modern languages.
  • The temple was judged the Best Mechanical Project of the Year 2019 at the MEP Middle East Awards and the Best Interior Design Concept of the Year 2020.
  • Value tales from Indian civilisation, Maya civilisation, Aztec civilisation, Egyptian civilisation, Arabic civilisation, European civilisation, Chinese civilisation and African civilisation have also been depicted.
  • A symbol of communal Harmony:
    1. A Muslim king donated land,
    2. The lead architect is a Catholic Christian,
    3. The project manager is a Sikh,
    4. The foundational designer is a Buddhist,
    5. The construction company is a Parsi group, and
    6. The director comes from the Jain tradition.
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