During His 2017 North American Vicharan, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj inaugurated the Nilkanth Varni Abhishek Mandap. On September 1, 2021, the new Nilkanth Varni Abhishek Mandap was opened with enthusiasm through Vedic rituals performed by Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta, GA. Devotees from North America and beyond joined in-person and virtually to celebrate this monumental occasion.
In his blessings after the inauguration, Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami highlighted the importance of reminiscing on the form of Nilkanth Varni, describing the value of tolerance, self-discipline, and service that can be seen throughout His pilgrimage. He emphasized that those who have the divine opportunity to conduct abhishek in this mandap, will experience the blessings and fruits of their prayers. Abhishek is the ancient Hindu practice of pouring water over the divine form of God to obtain His blessings while offering prayers. Param Pujya Mahant Swami Maharaj has also stated during His visit in 2017, “If one prays with complete faith, by the grace of Shri Nilkanth Varni, you will experience the bliss of Akshardham right here.”
The development of the new mandap was a significant undertaking to install over 7,000 pieces of stone and composite. The mandap itself emulates a jigsaw puzzle aggregate made of 45 domes, 34 full pillars - 20 of which are marble covered with hand-painted composite designs, and further utilizes 3 unique types of marble with 13 design variations. Under the central abhishek platform lies a 19-foot inlaid medallion made of marble surrounded by four 5-foot medallions.
At the mere age of 11, Bhagwan Swaminarayan renounced all worldly attachments and embarked on a journey throughout India including what is now Nepal, Tibet, and Bangladesh. During this time, He came to be known as Nilkanth Varni, named after His work in liberating many spiritual aspirants. In order to memorialize Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s travels, Shri Nilkanth Varni’s murti has been ceremoniously placed for daily worship.
The Nilkanth Varni Abhishek Mandap is the first of its kind to pay homage to the unique events of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s life and work through the intricate construction of the mandap. On the primary ceiling dome, a beautiful, hallmark depiction of Ghanshyam Maharaj regally seated on a pipal tree looking West can be observed. This dome is surrounded by ornate designs and several vibrant paintings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s childhood events as Ghanshyam. The pillars that support the mandap itself house the divine journey of Nilkanth Varni’s 7-year pilgrimage throughout India. The walls further unfold the liberating endeavours of Swaminarayan Bhagwan through His spiritual and humanitarian efforts.
It will now remain a place of resounding devotion and reverence, as devotees and well-wishers join to express their inner sentiments through the abhishek ritual and immerse themselves in the divine events of Bhagwan Swaminarayan’s unparalleled life.