Bahai Temple or Baha’i House of Worship is a lotus-designed structure completed in November 13, 1986 found in the city of New Delhi. The building principally serves as the mother temple of the Baha’i faith in the Indian subcontinent and South Asia. It is considered to be the most visited tourist destination in India, even surpassing the annual number of visitors at Taj Mahal.
Bahai Temple is constantly featured in numerous magazine and newspaper articles since it was opened to the public on December 24, 1986. It has won numerous architectural design awards and was recognized as one of the masterpieces of 20th century architecture.
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In 1987, Fariborz Sahba, the Iranian architect who designed the Bahai Temple, was awarded for excellence in religious art and architecture by the Institution of Structural Engineers and another by the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture. The temple was inducted into the Guinness World of Records in 2001 and is also featured in the 6.50 rupees postage.
The 34.47-meter high Bahai Temple, among other things, is a house of worship and an exemplary and magnificent work of art. Resembling a lotus flower, hence the nickname Lotus temple, the Bahai Temple has drawn millions of visitors every year, with more than 8,000 visitors daily. The house of worship reflects the foundation of the Baha’i faith, conveying respect to all world religions. The dome structure symbolizes oneness of god, oneness of religions and oneness of mankind.
Bahai Temple has always been compared to the Sydney Opera House in design. However, certain elements in the design of the New Delhi temple deviates it from the mentioned building. Bahai Temple is composed of 27 free standing white marble formed-like petals arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. The nine sides then have nine doors that open to the central hall welcoming anyone in place. Nine surrounding gardens and ponds complete the pretty picture sitting on 26 acres of land in the village of Bahapur. The lotus temple can hold around 2,500 people at a time.
The Lotus Temple, like other Baha’i temples across the globe, is based on the architectural elements found in the Baha’i scripture. The most important element that all houses of worship share is the absence of all statues, images, pictures of gods or sainted men and women. There are no altars or pulpits seen as well.
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Readers can just stand from a simple podium. The view at night is just spectacular, much like a sparkling jewel all lit up. During Durga Puja, a Hindi festival honoring the goddess Durga, replicas and temporary structures of the Bahai Temple called pandal are seen throughout the city.
Just like other Baha’i Houses of Worship worldwide, the Baha’i Temple in New Delhi is open to anyone regardless of religion. Visitors can avail of a specialized tour of the complex in advance by booking a tour guide. Large or small groups of tourists can also ask the assistance of volunteers regarding information about the temple.
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Since many people might not get the chance to visit the actual Bahai Temple, online virtual tours are also available to anyone from around the world, anywhere and anytime.