A Bahá’í house of worship popularly known as the Lotus Temple is open to all faiths and religions. Located in the national capital city – Delhi, the temple is a popular tourist attraction which welcomes people in large numbers who come here to meditate and enjoy the impressive architecture of the beautiful temple. Read on to know more…
WORDS BY: SANGEETA S
The Lotus or Bahá’í Temple is the most visited tourist spot in Delhi where approximately 15,000 people visit the temple every day. The Temple is known for its remarkable architecture and the serene, quiet stillness it offers to all. The beauty of the Temple lies in its unique structure, and its exemplary design has received several awards and accolades from around the world. The temple is in the shape of lotus flower and hence the name – Lotus Temple. The lotus flower symbolizes multiple religions of the world like Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism which comes together as one. Most of the visitors compare the structure and design to Opera House in Sydney and they are justified in doing so. Designed by Iranian architect, Fariborz Sahba, the temple was open to public in December 1986.
The structure has 27 free-standing marble-clad “petals” arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. There are nine doors that open into the central hall which has the capacity of 2,500 people. There is special significance of the number nine in the Bahá’í faith. Since it is the single highest number, it is associated with perfection. The temple also has nine ponds which you can see after climbing the stairs. The surface made of pristine white marble only enhances the beauty and elegance of the temple. Spread across 26 acres, the area surrounding the temple is beautiful and serene. The temple has no idols or pictures inside the hall; the idea is for a believer or a visitor to only experience peace.
The temple belongs to the Bahá’í faith which is open to all religions. Anybody can pray here and experience the utter calmness that the temple offers. It is a favourite spot for meditation lovers. Loud music or idol worship are prohibited inside the hall; you can only meditate in the hall. The temple is specially known for the peaceful environment where people gather to meditate and only Holy Scriptures of various religions can be chanted there.
The natural light from the glass roof of the hall adds to the brightness of the hall. The temple has many architectural awards to its credit and has been covered by leading news channels and print media from around the world.
The temple is open to all. Wheelchair facility is provided for people who cannot walk. Volunteers are available at the entrance to guide and show visitors the way. Make sure you take prior permission if you wish to click pictures.
If you wish to know about the Bahá’í faith, visit the information centre but keep in mind that children below 12 years of age are not allowed in the information centre. The information centre which opened in 2003 has lot of educational exhibits. It can also be called a museum where curious visitors can get a better understanding of the Bahá’í faith and can also get answers to their queries regarding the Bahá’í religion. Short films are also screened at regular intervals to provide more information to visitors.
To attend the special prayer services find out the timings and visit accordingly; prayer service is held four times during the day.
More About The Bahá’í Faith
Founded by Bahá’u’lláh in Iran in 1863, Bahá’í is one of the youngest of the world’s major religions. The religion works on the principle of unity and equality. The main purpose of this religion is to unite all religions in one common faith. The followers of this faith believe that God came as messenger in the form of Krishna, Jesus, Moses, Brahma and others and conveyed the unity of all religions.
A total of 11 Bahá’í Temples were constructed in different parts of the world (today only 10 survive) which are uniquely designed and offer similar peaceful, serene atmosphere.
Some locations where the temples are located are North America, Australia, Uganda, Germany, Panama, Samoa and India.
Light – The whole structure functions as a skylight with the interior dome shaped like inner portion of a lotus flower. The area lightens up with light passing through the inner folds of lotus petals.
Ventilation – The temple adopted a distinct method to keep the temple cool. Delhi is hot and humid most of the time and air conditioning was the only option to maintain temperature inside the central hall, which would require high consumption of energy. To keep the building cool, it is designed as a chimney. The openings at the top and bottom give the hall stack effect; cool air which is heavy is pulled from bottom and hot air which is light get thrown out from the top opening. In humid days the process gets reversed.
The temple has been accorded with many awards. Some of the prominent ones as per Wikipedia are mentioned below –
1987 – The architect of the Bahá’í House of Worship, Architect Fariborz Sahba, was presented the award for excellence in religious art and architecture by the UK-based Institution of Structural Engineers.
1987 – the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture, Affiliate of the American Institute of Architects, Washington, D.C., gave their First Honour award for “Excellence in Religious Art and Architecture” 1987 to Mr. Sahba for the design of the Bahá’í House of Worship near New Delhi.
1988 – The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America conferred the Paul Waterbury Outdoor Lighting Design Award – Special Citation for Exterior Lighting.
1989 – The Temple received an award from the Maharashtra-India Chapter of the American Concrete Institute for “excellence in a concrete structure”.
1994 edition of Encyclopædia Britannica, in its ‘Architecture’ section gives recognition to the Temple as an outstanding achievement of the time.
2000 – GlobArt Academy, based in Vienna, Austria, presented its “GlobArt Academy 2000” award to the architect of the Lotus Temple, Fariborz Sahba, for “the magnitude of the service of [this] Taj Mahal of the 20th century in promoting the unity and harmony of people of all nations, religions and social strata, to an extent unsurpassed by any other architectural monument worldwide.”