162-acre Akshardham coming up in New Jersey
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AHMEDABAD: The biggest Hindu temple in India, the Sri Rangaswami temple in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, covers 155.92 acres. Now, the Bochasanvasi Akshar Purushottam Sansthan (BAPS) has envisioned an Akshardham temple at Robbinsville in New Jersey, US that will be spread over a mammoth 162 acres.
BAPS has earlier established two Akshardham temples at Gandhinagar and New Delhi as religious and cultural centers. The US project — aptly named Akshardham Mahamandir — started in 2013 with a stone-laying ceremony, realizing the 15-year-old dream of Pramukh Swami, the religious leader of the sect, to construct an Akshardham at New Jersey. The area has sizable Gujarati and Indian population. The leaders are hopeful that the temple will be ready in 2017. Pramukh Swami will visit the site next month when he will be in the US.
Sadhu Brahmprakash of BAPS told TOI that the work is going on at Rajasthan where more than 2,000 artisans are laboring over various parts of the temple at Dungarpur, Pindwada and Sangwada. “The finished parts are shipped to US where they are assembled by master craftsmen,” he said.
Italian marble and marble from Rajasthan’s quarries is being used and the parts are shipped from Mundra, added officials. In US, a 5,000-strong team is looking after various aspects of the construction and design.
The complex will be more than double the size of Akshardham in New Delhi which has an area of 59 acres. The main building will have four floors. The complex will have an exhibit dedicated to Indian history and culture, a youth activity center and much more. The artisans have taken elements of both south and north Indian temples. The embellished temple will have ornate pillars and panels depicting scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata and ancient scriptures. The halls will have full-size idols of important leaders of the sect.
Sadhu Brahmviharidas of BAPS could not be reached despite several attempts to ascertain the cost of the project. However, some reports peg the cost at over $150 million.