During my trip to Gwinnett County, I had the opportunity to visit one of the most elegant and gorgeous Mandirs in the United States. For those who aren’t sure what a Mandir is it’s a Hindu Temple and, like most religious buildings, offers a sense of peace to those who visit.
I am completely fascinated by other religions and love exploring and learning about their temples and churches.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir did not disappoint with its incredible architecture, stunning interior design and sense of peace you feel by simply being there.
First, a Bit of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir History
It was in early 1980’s when the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan congregation of Atlanta area first started meeting in the homes of their members.
After several years of assemblage, the group purchased a skating rink in Clarkston, Georgia. The rink was then renovated and repurposed as a “mandir,” the Sanskrit word for temple, a place of worship.
In February 2000, under the permission of Pramukh Swami Maharaj—the guru and Pramukh (president) of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha— the congregation purchased a 29-acre lot in the suburbs of Lilburn, GA.
A few years after securing the land, Pramukh revisited the site to preside over the first stone laying ritual.
Temple construction officially began in September 2005. Devotees volunteered 1.3 million hours of their time and effort in building the said landmark.
More than 34,000 pieces of individually hand-carved stones were shipped from India to the US, and assembled on site.
The Mandir is made of three special types of stones: Turkish limestone, Italian Carrara marble, and Indian pink sandstone. In a little under two years, the Mandir was inaugurated and opened to the public.
The Mandir Experience
Pramukh Swami Maharaj spoke that “this mandir is open to all.”
He also added that those who pray sincerely here can find peace and happiness.
Individuals and families are welcome to visit for free. No reservations required.
Audio tours are $5 and will give you great history about the Mandir. Audio tours are available from 9:00AM to 6:00PM
Nilkanth Varni Abhishek Mandapam
Located on the first floor, guests may join this sacred ritual by offering heartfelt, sincere devotion and prayers in the middle of other chants and mantras.
Witness an ancient Hindu ritual performed which involves offering lighted wicks to the divine images found all around the building. Separate seating for men and women will be observed during the ceremony.
Mandir Architectural Points of interests
Yellow Elephants on Parade
Some people think that Hindus worship animals. But in actuality, animals are only respected.
The elephant figures decorate the mandir to remind people of the virtue of power and wisdom. When operating, the yellow elephants shoot water from their trunks to fill the reflection pool.
A reflection pond allows visitors to ponder and nurture calmness, leading to the grand staircase and the mandir’s main entrance.
Details, Designs and Meanings
The Mandir Lilburn is the biggest Hindu temple outside of India and the biggest in the Southeast US.
It has beautiful pink sandstone, inviting the crowd with its limestone exteriors and white marbles indoors, mingling harmoniously with the vibrant colors of shrines, lighting and modern intricacies of the audio system.
You’ll be amazed to learn that no metal was used to build the mandir. The domed ceiling has 42 stone slabs, with the center as its keystone, given a single twist to lock all stones in place.
Peacock, India’s national bird, also found its place in the temple. Its majestic feathers adorn the place, reminding visitors and devotees of harmony and peace.
Teak wood was used for the mandir’s doors. Atypical to US soils, teak is commonly found growing in Southeast Asia.
General Conduct at the Mandir
- Quiet reverence is observed all throughout the temple.
- Clothing must cover shoulders and knees.
- Photography is only allowed outside the grounds of the Mandir.
- Outside foods are not allowed within the premises.