Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple in New Delhi

The Swaminarayan Akshardham temple on the banks of the River Yamuna in Delhi was inaugurated by President APJ Abdul Kalam on November 6, 2005.

The sprawling Rs.200-crore pink sandstone cultural complex spread over 100 acres showcases the grandeur of Indian history, art, culture and values. Designed by architect Virendra Sompura and conceptualised by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, it took over 7,000 master craftsmen and thousands of volunteers from all over the world almost five years to complete this modern day marvel.

The main monument, depicting ancient Indian "vastu shastra" and architecture, is a masterpiece in pink sandstone and white marble that is 141 feet high, 316 feet wide and 370 feet long with 234 ornate pillars, over 20,000 sculptures and statues of deities, eleven 72-foot-high huge domes (mandapams) and decorative arches.

The monument stands on the shoulders of 148 huge elephants which are encircled by a double-storied colonnade that depicts tales from the epics.

The complex has exhibition halls, an Imax theatre and a musical fountain, surrounded by a garden, and is much more than a mere place of pilgrimage.

The temple complex is expected to become one of the major tourist attractions of Delhi. It will be thrown open to the public from November 8, from 12 noon to 6 p.m. The timings will be extended from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from November 15.

For visitors, entry to the complex is free. However, for exhibition halls and theatres an entry fee of Rs.125 is to be paid and for children and senior citizens the charges are Rs.75.

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