Shri Swaminarayan Mandir: A Heritage Temple of Ahmadabad

Sometimes, people fall short of words to describe something related to the past. This is because the memories and incidents of the past are always considered very special. Be it the childhood memories, or the first day of college, or a picnic with close friends, some events are always etched in our minds forever. It is the same with a city or state that boasts of its glorious past through the records of events or a building that was built primarily for the people and is still used by local residents and tourists for a specific purpose. The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir of Gujarat, a major religious centre of the state and a popular pilgrimage, is one such structure that stands apart from other monuments and glorifies Swaminarayan, who was the founder of Swaminarayan Sampraday.

Shri Swaminarayan Temple, Ahamadabad
Shri Swaminarayan Temple, Ahamadabad (source)

Location: The temple is located in the Kalupur area of Ahmadabad city.

History

The temple was built in 1822 under the supervision of Swaminarayan. The site where the temple is built was gifted to the community by the British Government. Around 50,000 people from different parts of the country were present on the day when the idol installation ceremony was held.

Post the installation of the idols, a British officer visited the temple and was highly impressed by the overall structure. He instructed his subordinate to fire 101 shots as a salute to the grandeur of the temple.

The British Government had initially granted 5,000 acres of land to the temple administration, out of which a part was returned to the government for the construction of the railway station. The government then granted the temple another 1000 acres of land in a village as compensation.

Structure

A lot of hard work and time went in the design and construction of the temple. This fact is evident from the structure of the central gateway. It showcases a blend of different architectural patterns adopted in India during that period. The sculptures depict the folk culture of Rajasthan and Maharashtra, while the columns have been engraved following the Corinthian order. Another distinctive feature of the gateway is the pavilion, which follows the Mughal architectural patterns. Statues of Gujarati women can also be seen at the gateway.

Swaminarayan Architecture
Swaminarayan Architecture (source)

The Nar Narayan Temple has been constructed according to the scriptures. The artwork depicts the various incidents and religious symbols. There are five idols in the temple. The idol of the primary deity has been placed in the center, while that of other deities have been placed to the right and left of the hall. The idol of Nar Narayan and Radhakrishna are dressed. This dress is changed seven times every day.

The Akshar Bhavan of the temple complex houses the idol of Ghanshyam Maharaj and personal belongings of Swami Narayan in the ground and first floor.

The Rang Mahal houses another idol of Ghanshyam Maharaj. This idol was installed fifty years after the temple was built and is considered to be an exclusive wooden sculpture.

A structure built on the west side called The Haveli was the residence of an Acharya in the initial days. It is now used as the residence of female devotees.

Another Haveli constructed in 1871 is also a highlight of the temple complex. A three-storey structure, this building is decorated with sculptures, carvings and free-hand designs. This Haveli stands on the north of the temple.

The third Haveli was built on the east side of the temple and decorated with several sculptures. To the rear of this structure is a well that was used in ancient times.

Eat, Drink, Collect

Visitors have a lot of options to choose from to eat out in Ahmadabad. Most of the outlets serve vegetarian cuisines and a variety of snacks though a couple of outlets also specialize in non vegetarian cuisines. Some of the notable outlets include Vishala, Choice Snacks, Tadka Punjabi, Sankalp, Raipur Bhajia House, Mirch Masala, Ras Ranjan, etc.

Ahmadabad is a commercial hub with lot of textile mills. Visitors can buy a variety of clothes, but it would be better to bargain before finalizing what you purchase.

Best Time to Visit

It would be better if you plan your visit to Shri Swaminarayan Temple during monsoon or winter season. Avoid visiting the temple and town during summers, as the temperature can play a spoilsport in your expedition.

Aarti at Inside Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Aarti at Inside Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

How to Reach

Ahmadabad is a metropolitan city with excellent connectivity through air, road and rail transport. The domestic airport connects the city to Indore, Mumbai, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Pune, Bangalore and a few other cities. The airport is located at a distance of approximately 15 kilometres from the city.

Several trains from Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Vadodara, etc., run more than once a day towards Ahmadabad. Daily trains to other cities such as Indore, Lucknow, Surat, Puri, Chennai, etc., are also available from the Ahmadabad railway station.

Ahmadabad is also accessible through road network from various neighboring cities and states as well.

Once you reach the city, you should travel around by auto rickshaw or bus, as they are available in plenty and will take you to almost any corner of the town.

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