Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Lotus Temple

Its been a month since my last post and I almost feel (if I were Catholic) a confession is due - Forgive me my sins! In my defence we have had our first guests and I've been honing my Delhi tourist skills. I also seemed to have been caught up in the routine of life here in Delhi, although all that has ended now as the mass exodus of Expats to their homes countries has begun. This seems to have been more noticeable here in Delhi than before in Singapore. As the school summer holidays begin so the airports are full of suitcases and expats off for long lazy summers 'back home'. With this comes of course various lunches and farewells, ssshhhh I am off to one such lunch today, albeit the excuse is its a friends birthday that is happening whilst everyone is absent. 

But enough of my excuses! Whilst our guests were with us they had, on their list, the Lotus Temple, a place I had on mine that we could all tick off together. 

Situated close by to Nehru Place and the Kalkaji Temple, the fondly called Lotus Temple is the main house of worship for the Baha'i religion within India. It was completed on 13 November 1986 and draws up to 8-10,000 visitors every day, making it the most visited building in the world as of 2001. The Baha'i religion is a relatively new one 'According to the Bahá'í Faith's teachings, the human purpose is to learn to know and to love God through such methods as prayer, reflection and being of service to humanity. The Bahá'í Faith was founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia.' The temple is open to all regardless of religion and anyone can read aloud from their religious books, texts etc worshipping within the building. Perhaps more people/religions should take note and be more open to this idea. 

The building is flower/lotus shaped with similarities in design to that of the Sydney opera house. Like that it has won many architectural awards. For myself it was the design of the building that drew me to visit, rather than any religious draw. I really appreciated the design and how the 'petals' are free standing, but inside although architecturally clever it left me rather cold, feeling like a modern western church, which just isn't my 'cup of tea' ....not for this confused atheist I'm afraid! 

There are 27 free standing Greek marble clad petals (from Mount Penteli) that form 9 sides of the lotus with 9 entrances to the hall below them and surrounded by 9 pools. All Baha'i places of worship across the globe are 9 sided buildings, I am not sure of the significance of the number 9? The temple stands at 40 metres in height and the white shines out across the Delhi skyline. 

The lotus is a sacred flower in India and this lotus inspired building was designed by an Iranian architect Fariboz Sahba, who know lives in Canada and is the first temple in Delhi to use solar power, you could see the panels within the surrounding gardens, which themselves are watered by green water. 

Its well worth a visit as something completely different to anything else within Delhi and great for photographs. Its free to all and is open Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays) For those interested there is a very thorough information centre covering the Baha'i religion. The only time I had come across this before was when I visited the cemeteries in the North West of Singapore where there is a small Baha'i cemetery where burials still take place, unlike all other religions in Singapore where all are now cremations. 

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