In a suburb of Atlanta, Ga. not far from where my Granna lives is a beautiful structure that transports your mind to India with a first glance. I wanted to see it because I love architecture.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple sets back on the large property which also includes a restaurant, activity buildings, and gift shops. A large pond with a waterfall sets the landscape in front of the temple reminding me of the scenery I have seen in photographs of the Taj Mahal, considered one of the seven wonders of the world. What is a mandir? Described as a haven for spirituality and a place of paramount peace, a mandir is also a Hindu place of worship. The architecture of the building is lavishly detailed carvings in Italian marble, Turkish limestone, and Indian pink sandstone. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir opened in August, 2007 after 17 months of construction and 1.3 million volunteer hours. The delicately carved individual pieces (over 34,000) of the temple were carved by hand in India, shipped to the USA and then assembled in Lilburn, Ga. It is the largest Hindu temple in the world outside of India. Serving approximately 500 families in its congregation, it also serves as a haven for spirituality and a place of paramount peace for adults and children.
According to their website,” the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a worldwide socio-spiritual organization in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, is dedicated to community service, peace and harmony. Motivated by Hindu principles, BAPS strives to care for the world by caring for societies, families and individuals. Through a number of social and spiritual activities, BAPS endeavors to produce better citizens of tomorrow who have a high esteem for their roots – their rich Hindu culture. Its 3,300 international centers support these activities of character-building. Under the guidance and leadership of His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS aspires to build a community that is morally, ethically and spiritually pure.”