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Swaminarayan sect opens $100-million quake-proof temple near Hollywood

Thursday, 3 January 2013 - 3:21pm IST Updated: Thursday, 3 January 2013 - 7:54pm IST | Place: Los Angeles | Agency: PTI

The 68th Swaminarayan temple of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha was built using 35,000 pieces of meticulously hand-carved Italian Carrara marble and Indian Pink sandstone, temple officials said.

One of the biggest Hindu temples in the US, built at a whopping cost of $100 million near the Hollywood city in Los Angeles has become a major draw for its grandeur and environment-friendly design, since its inauguration. The 68th Swaminarayan temple of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) has been built using 35,000 pieces of meticulously hand carved Italian Carrara marble and Indian Pink Sandstone, temple officials said.

BAPS said that it is first earthquake-proof mandir in the world and is expected to last for 1,000 years. "The Mandir is a beautiful testament to the hard work of your congregation who has spent several years to build this place of worship," Chino Hill mayor Peter Rogers said. "The mandir and cultural center will indeed be a place that Chino Hills can be proud of for so many, many generations," he said, at the temple's inauguration on December 23.

The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London with its marble pillars attracts over half a million visitors annually. Made from 5,000 tonnes of Italian Carrara marble and Bulgarian limestone, it was hand-carved into 26,300 pieces by 1,526 skilled craftsmen. Deities and motifs spring from the walls, ceilings and windows, representing the sacred faith and beliefs of a people that date back over 8,500 years.

Using cutting edge technology to protect it from earthquakes, the temple encompasses five pinnacles, two large domes, four balconies, 122 pillars and 129 archways. The 6,600 hand-carved motifs depict a mosaic of tales of inspiration, devotion and dedication, along with historical figures from Hinduism, temple officials said. "Artisans created the carvings in India with great love, skill and patience before the pieces were shipped to Chino Hills," a BAPS statement said.

The mandir is situated on a 20-acre site, complete with 91 foot lotus-shaped reflection pond, a cultural centre, gymnasium and classrooms. It is designed to "calm the mind and open it," said Ronak Patel, a volunteer of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, adding that, "The upper structure of the complex is protected from earthquake damage by separating it from the base with a series of 40 base-isolator units."

Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi was built in five years by 11,000 artisans. Built without steel, it consists of 234 ornately-carved pillars, 9 ornate domes, 20 quadrangled shikhars, a Gajendra Pith (plinth of stone elephants) and 20,000 murtis and statues of Indian sadhus and devotees. The mandir is a fusion of pink stone and pure white marble, where pink stone symbolises bhakti in eternal bloom and white marble that of absolute purity and eternal peace.

"The Mandir also uses a solar power system to generate electricity and reduce adverse effects on the environment. The Mandir combines the best of traditional stone art and architecture and the best of modern technology," said Divyesh Patel, a member of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.

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