A Mandir on the Banks of River
A Wish Fulfilled...
In the heart of India's capital, New Delhi, and on the banks of the holy
river Yamuna, the mandir emerges like a glistening pearl.
Intricately sculpted in Italian Carrara marble, the mandir is a monument to
Hindu spirituality and ancient architecture.
At the heart of the mandir the divine murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and
Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami captivate the visiting pilgrims.
35 years ago, Yogiji Maharaj prophesied that a grand mandir would be built on the
banks of the Yamuna. And history was created when Pramukh Swami Maharaj
fulfilled this prophecy on 6 February 2003.
Here we present highlights of how the mandir was built and
the festival that celebrated its opening...
Delhi is the capital of India and there the sovereign Purushottam Narayan is to preside. So we want to hold a grand pratishtha celebration....
"It was Yogiji Maharaj's wish, so the mandir festival will be grand..."
From over 1400 kilometres away, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, in Mumbai, enthusiastically told the sadhus in Delhi to organise a grand celebration for the breathtaking new mandir in New Delhi.
Despite frail health, Swamishri was recovering from a 10-day bout of fever and diarrhoea, his voice over the telephone was fresh and encouraging. The satisfaction that Yogiji Maharaj's long-held wish would be fulfilled was plainly evident. From the very beginning he had set the standards, "It is Yogiji Maharaj's wish that a mandir be built on the banks of Yamuna in Delhi. So we want to make it the best."
Thirty-five years ago, Yogiji Maharaj expressed his heartfelt wish that a mandir dedicated to Akshar Purushottam Maharaj be consecrated on the banks of Yamuna in New Delhi.
This wish of Yogiji Maharaj became a mission for Pramukh Swami Maharaj. By his tireless efforts over the past three decades, this wish has been fulfilled and it is a reflection of Swamishri's singular devotion for his guru. Sculpted in intricate detail, entirely from Italian Carrara marble, the 60 ft. high mandir was constructed, from foundation to pinnacle, in a record-breaking nine months.
The shilanyas ceremony was performed by Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami on 4-5-2001.
It was Yogiji Maharaj's wish that a marble murti of guru Shastriji Maharaj be consecrated in this mandir, hence, Pramukh Swami Maharaj chose 6-2-2003, Vasant Panchmi, the birthday of Brahmaswarup Shastriji Maharaj, as the murti-pratishtha date.
Together with the mandir, a host of ancilliary buildings - residence for sadhus, residence for volunteers, residence for pilgrims, kitchens, etc. - have also been built within a year.
The task of completing this challenging project was spearheaded by Ishwarcharan Swami and a support team of sadhus and volunteers.
Responsibility for sculpting the marble was wholeheartedly undertaken by Harshad Chavda. Under his supervision, volunteers and craftsmen at the Sanstha's workshops in Pindwada and surrounding villages worked day and night to meet the demanding schedules.
On the mandir construction site, the sculpted marble stone were assembled under the guidance of the project's chief engineer, Ashwin Patel, Dharmavatsal Swami and Atmakirti Swami.
To enhance the beauty of the mandir, Swamishri had made a priceless suggestion to build a parikrama or colonnade around its perimeter. This was built out of red stone from Rajasthan. This feature in itself was a big project and was completed on time by the efforts of Yogesh Swami and his team of volunteers and craftsmen based at Secundra near Jaipur in Rajasthan.
With less than 15 days remaining before the pratishtha, anyone seeing the site would have thought it impossible that everything would be completed on time.
And to add to the problems, New Delhi's erratic weather hindered more than helped. The biting cold, heavy fog and frequent rain showers interfered with the best of plans.
But, however, as the auspicious day drew nearer, Swamishri's frequent words of encouragement inspired all work with maximum vigour. Finally, with the divine blessings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the Gunatit Gurus the entire construction was completed on time.
With many devotees expected to arrive from UK, USA, Africa and other countries, Swamishri arrived in New Delhi late at night on 31 January, still recovering from his recent illness.
With the inclement weather the sadhus prayed to Swamishri for a change in weather so that final preparations for the celebrations could be completed.
Swamishri smiled and said, "From tomorrow Maharaj will make everything fine."
And sure enough, the following day, the clouds were nowhere in sight and the sun shone brightly in the morning sky.
With favourable weather, the pace of work quickened and everything was ready for the celebrations. Over 250 sadhus and 7000 devotees from throughout India and abroad were expected to attend the 2-day celebrations.
On 3 February 2003, at 6.45 a.m. Swamishri performed the traditional Vedic worship of the kalashes and flagstaffs to be placed on the pinnacles of the mandir. Swamishri also performed the Vedic worship of the painted murtis of Akshar Purushottam and Radha Krishna to be installed in the old mandir in place of the current marble murtis, which would now be transferred to the new mandir.
On the following pages we describe the prasad-pravesh, yagna, procession, diksha and murti-pratishtha celebrations.
SHRI SWAMINARAYAN MANDIR, NEW DELHI
* Height: 60 ft. Width: 82 ft. Length: 174 ft.
* Shikhars (pinnacles): 7
* Ghummat (domes): 9
* Sthambhs (pillars): 96
* Murtis in pradakshina (of sadhus and devotees): 35
* Torans (arches): 90
* Podium size: 60 ft. wide x 40 ft. long
* Assembly hall (under podium): 60 ft. x 40 ft.
* Parikrama (colonnade): 590 ft. in length; 118 pillars; 10 mini-domes
* Swamishri's and sadhus' residence
* Volunteers' residence
* Kitchens and dining areas
* Pilgrims' residence