India is a land filled with multiple religions and a healthy dose of mysticism and it’s capitol is a melting pot where they all run across each other. Because of this, New Delhi is filled with Churches, Temples, Mosques, and Gurudwalla’s representing India’s wide range of religious beliefs. However, because Hinduism is still the countries’ largest religion, you’ll find many Hindu temples (from tiny single rooms to palace sized compounds) dedicated to the vast number of gods and deities they worship. There is one Hindu temple that stood out to me though, not just for it’s beautiful architecture but because it was built with a core principle in mind that was quite radical for it’s time. The Laxmi Narayan (Birla Mandir) in Delhi is the only temple in India you’ll find that was inaugurated by Ghandi for one reason, it’s open to every caste level and was not restricted to only Hindus.
The Laxmi Narayan Temple is very easily accessible since it’s located just outside of Connaught Place in Delhi. It’s a short “auto” ride from there or a quick walk from the Ashram Marg metro station. As you near the temple it’s hard to miss as it’s 160ft domes stand out against the rest of the city.
The temple is dedicated to the godess of wealth and prosperity Laxmi also known as Mahalakshmi and her consort Naryana, one of the many forms of Vishnu, the supreme Vedic god of Hinduism. Some Hindu’s consider the Laxmi Narayan temple to be the holiest of the temples in all of Delhi.
As with all temples, there are prayers throughout the day and locals line up to purchase the requisite items for their puja.
The entire site is about 7 acres and features gardens filled with statues.
The gardens also house several smaller temples that are dedicated to Shiva, Krishna, and even Buddha. The temples in the gardens are open and the deities are fully exposed, one can even see the pundits go about their rituals.
There are countless substructures and other statues in the gardens as well, which is reflective of the temples commitment to openness.
The temple used more than a 100 craftsmen over the course of 7 years to be built. The details are a sight to see. Even the back of the temple is skillfully adorned.
Visitors to can enter the temple and participate in the prayers and rituals as well. There are three times of day (daybreak, afternoon, and evening) when rites are held. Visiting the Laxmi Narayan temple was absolutely fascinating and spiritual. I highly recommend it to anyone staying in New Delhi for a few days.
If you found this post about the Laxmi Narayan (Birla Mandir) in Dehli, India interesting you may also want to take a look at these related posts.
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