The Sacred Lotus of Delhi
A temple structured in the shape of a white lotus, placed in the heart of Delhi, the capital city of India is an architectural and religious monument with historical importance, which beckons thousands of visitors daily. What is so unique about this edifice? It’s not only the construction but the Bahá'í Houses of Worship. Irrespective of religious barriers, the presence of Bahai followers makes it a prominent attraction in the city.
Whenever you get a chance to visit our capital city, don’t miss the opportunity to make a trip to Lotus temple here, this is known as the mother of Indian temples. It is also known as the Bahai temple. Another important fact about this flowerlike structure is that it is one of the most visited monuments in India. When you are in Delhi, you need to take a half an hour journey to Kalkaji, to reach lotus temple. It was constructed in the year 1986 and it is one of the youngest temples in India with the highest number of visitors. The temple has attracted over 51 million people so far. As the Bahai’s believes in a religion less and cast less society, the temple is opened up to every public.
History of Lotus Temple
Lotus temple was designed by Persian architect Fariborz Sahba who was presented the award for excellence in religious art and architecture by the UK-based institution of Structural Engineers for the Temple. He completed the design of the temple in 1976 and took 10 years more to complete the physical structure. The temple was built with money left by Ardishir Kustampur of Hyderabad who in 1953 donated his life savings to the church to build a Temple.
The view and its location
The main entrance of the temple gives a view of a bloomed white lotus at the middle of meadows. The entire building was constructed by using pure white marble, taken to here from Greece. One might get really wonder after seeing a huge white marble structure in India after Tajmahal at Agra. There we can see a large beautiful grassland which consists of a stunning garden surrounding the temple and meandering grass paved paths nearby. It is located in an extensive 26 acres of land, which has 9 ponds. The view of these ponds is also eye capturing. The green water bodies consisting lotus flowers are enough to make the visitor excited. About 800 artisans were worked for 10 years to complete this historical piece of architecture.
When we enter the Lotus temple, we can a special kind of atmosphere, that filled with a sacred sanctity. From the front view, the Temple looks like a half-open lotus flower with 27 free standing petals made up of marbles. The fragile architecture of Lotus Temple appears in 2 layers. The first layer contains 9 white marble-covered petals rising towards heaven and the second layer of nine petals serves to conceal the portals.For Bahai’s and the Indians, Lotus is a symbol of peace, purity, love and immortality and all these factors together makes this flower a significant symbol of Indian culture and society.
Influence of Bahai’s
According to the Bahai tradition, it is the seventh place of Bahai worship and is dedicated to the unity of god. We can’t see any image or idol inside the temple representing any religion except the copies of the Holy Scriptures. Now, Lotus Temple is a symbol of solitude and serenity of Indian society. To the people of India, the lotus flower signifies purity and peace, a representation of the expression of God. Lotus flower is so respected in Indian mythology and cultures that its translation into the design of a temple has caught the attention of the people at large.
After Lotus temples inception in 1986, India has drawn to its portals more than 50 million visitors, making it the most visited edifice in the world, its numbers surpassing those of the visitors to the Eiffel Tower and even the Taj Mahal. An average of 150000 people visits the temple annually. The best tourism season at Lotus temple is winter. These visitors here have admired the beautiful lotus form of the Temple and have been fascinated by the teachings of the Baha'i Faith impressed by its tenets of the oneness of God, the oneness of religions and oneness of mankind.
Lotus temple, a visual treat for eyes
Moving into the large and wide marble hall of the temple, we can see the structure of the House of Worship. It is composed of three ranks of nine petals; each springing from a podium which elevates the building above the surrounding plain. The first two ranks curve inward, taking on the inner dome; the third layer curves outward to form canopies over the nine entrances. The petals, constructed of unbreakable white concrete cast in place, are clad in white marble panels, performed to surface profiles and patterns related to the geometry. And when we see the double layered interior dome, the innermost portion of the lotus, which is comprised of 54 ribs with concrete shells between.
The central hall is circled by nine arches that provide the main sustain for the superstructure. Nine reflecting pools surround the building on the outside, their form suggesting the green leaves of the lotus flower. There we can see the modern engineering designs along with western designs. The interior view of the roof of the temple is the other attraction. It is also constructed on the basis geometrical pattern. Ventilation and cooling are based on techniques traditional to the Indian subcontinent. Fresh air, cooled as it passes over the fountains and pools, is drawn in through openings in the basement, up into the central hall, and expelled through a vent at the top of the interior dome. The lotus temple temples radiate the atmosphere of sublimity, peace and calm so necessary to elevate a devotee spiritually as the Baha'i House of Worship. The lotus symbol can be easily traced in Zoroastrian architecture. The carving of Ardashir II at Taq-i-Bustan shows Mithra standing on a lotus flower.
As we have discussed, the temple complex is consists of the main house of worship; the ancillary block which houses the reception centre, the library and the administrative building; and the restrooms block. The temple proper comprises a cellar to accommodate the electrical and plumbing components, and a lotus-shaped superstructure to house the assembly area.Around the temple, we can see walkways with beautiful curved balustrades, bridges and stairs, which encircle the nine pools on behalf of the floating leaves of the lotus. Apart from serving an obvious aesthetic function, the pools also help ventilate the building. The petals of the lotus temple are divided into inner petals and outer petals. The inner leaves enclose the interior dome in a canopy made of crisscrossing ribs and shells of intricate pattern. We can also see the shell surfaces on both sides of the ridge of the entrance and outer leaves are formed out of circles of different radii, with their centres located at different points inside the building. The shell is uniformly 133 mm thick towards the base, and rises to 255 mm up to the tip, beyond the glazing line.The arches inside the temple also have a great importance as the 9 arches were cast one after the other in two lifts until the circle was completed.
In short, it’s not only the beauty of lotus temples but also its cultural, architectural and social value owes a countless number of visitors here. So if you are going to miss the chance to visit lotus temple, you are going to miss the best opportunity to see a historical monument which can make you wonder and speculate.