Akshar Dham Temple, Gandhi Nagar, Ahmedabad
Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar, Gujarat is a large Hindu temple complex inspired by Pramukh Swami, the former spiritual head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. Located in the capital of Gujarat, the complex was built over 13 years and is a tribute to Swaminarayan and his life and teachings. At the center of the 23-acre complex is the Akshardham mandir, which is built from 6,000 metric tons of pink sandstone from Rajasthan. The complex’s name refers to the divine abode of Swaminarayan in the BAPS philosophy; followers of Swaminarayan believe that the jiva or soul goes to Akshardham after attaining moksha, or liberation. BAPS followers worship Swaminarayan as God almighty.
The focal point of the complex is the Akshardham Mandir, which measures 108 feet high, 131 feet wide and 240 feet long and features 97 carved pillars, 17 domes, 8 balconies, 220 stone beams and 264 sculpted figures.In accordance with Vedic architectural principles, no steel or iron has been used anywhere in the mandir. 20 foot-long stone beams, each weighing five tons, have been used as load-bearing support throughout the mandir. The mandir’s central chamber houses a seven-foot-tall, gold-leafed murti, or sacred image, of Swaminarayan, who is worshipped by followers as God. The murti rests upon a three-foot pedestal and weighs 1.2 tons. It is flanked by the murtis of the ideal devotee, Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami and Aksharmukta Goplanand Swami, both in postures of loving devotion toward Swaminarayan. In each of the four corners of the mandir sits a life-sized marble murti of the lineages of gurus or successors of Swaminarayan revered by BAPS. The first floor of the mandir is known as the Vibhuti Mandapam and features lotus-shaped displays describing the spiritual character of Swaminarayan, while the basement of the mandir, called the Prasadi Mandapam, houses a historical display of various sacred relics from Swaminarayan’s life.
The complex’s five exhibition halls use audio-visual presentations and life-sized dioramas to explore various themes in Hinduism. The Neelkanth and Sahajanand Halls depict Swaminarayan’s life, work and teachings. The Mystic India Hall features an IMAX theater which screens a 40-minute film portraying the country-spanning pilgrimage Swaminarayan had embarked on at the age of eleven, when he assumed the name Neelkanth Varni. The film, directed by Keith Melton and narrated by Peter O’Toole, was shot at 108 locations across India and boasts a cast of over 45,000 people. It has received numerous plaudits including the Audience’s Choice Award at the 10th International Large Format Film Festival at La Geode in Paris, France and the “Most Popular Film” at the San Jose IMAX Film Festival. The Premanand Hall is divided into three sub-sections, the first is dedicated to the Hindu scriptural texts, the Upanishads, the Ramayan, and the Mahabharat; the second explores religions more generally and features photographic displays of the symbols, scriptures, sacred sites, moral codes and prayers of the world’s major faiths; and the third section serves as a tribute to some of India’s most famous poets. The fifth exhibition hall, Sant Param Hitakari, houses an audio-animatronics show conveying a message of everlasting happiness.
Sat-Chit-Anand Water Show
The Sat-Chit-Anand Water Show is an interpretative performance of the parable of Nachiketa, as told in the Kathopanishad. The show’s title translates to Truth-Knowledge-Bliss and is an appellation of the Hindu ontological reality Aksharbrahma or Akshardham. The show was inaugurated on 3 April 2010 by Pramukh Swami. The vibrant show employs fire, fountain animations, laser, water screen projections, music and live characters in a 45-minute retelling of Nachiketa’s choice. Nachiketa was the son of a rishi named Udalak, who organized a yagna in which he gifted sickly, barren cattle to Brahmin attendees. Nachiketa was troubled by his father’s deception and asked to whom he himself would be offered to in charity. Angered by this question, Udalak banished Nachiketa to the realm of Yamapuri, the underworld. Nachiketa stood at King Yama’s doorstep for three days waiting for Yama’s arrival; Yama was impressed by Nachiketa’s resoluteness, and offered him three boons. Firstly, Nachiketa requested that his father may welcome him lovingly upon his return home; next that he be granted the knowledge by which he can be worthy of living in the heavens; and lastly he may attain knowledge of the eternal soul, the Atma, which transcends death. The story of Nachiketa offers lessons in realizing one’s true Self, living by one’s principles, perseverance in the face of difficulties, and keeping spiritual perspective in any circumstance.
(source : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akshardham_(Gandhinagar))