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Swaminarayan Aksh... Other News
Aug 29, 2007 09:03:03
The Disney Touch at a Hindu Temple
Feb 15, 2008 06:07:08
The Disney Touch at a Hindu Temple Courtesy of Akshardham Temple

The Swaminarayan Akshardham temple complex in east Dehli.

 

By JONATHAN ALLENPublished: June 8, 2006

It barely needs stating that India already has a lot of Hindu temples, and so if you want to persuade people to slip their shoes off for a new one, you've got to be imaginative.

Courtesy of Akshardham Temple

The Swaminarayan Akshardham temple.

To this end, the creators of the new Swaminarayan Akshardham temple complex that towers over east Delhi thought to include several features not commonly found in Hindu architecture, including an indoor boat ride, a large-format movie screen, a musical fountain and a hall of animatronic characters that may well remind us that, really, it's a small world after all. There are even pink (sandstone) elephants on parade.

"There is no doubt about it — we have taken the concept from Disneyland," said Jyotindra Dave, the chief public relations officer for the organization that built the temple, which opened in November. "We visited five or six times. As tourists, I mean. And then we went away and worked out how they did everything."

The organization in question is Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (it calls itself BAPS), a Hindu sect-cum-registered charity with a global reach and a list of humanitarian activities as unwieldy as its name. The Delhi Akshardham is not BAPS's first such venture, but it is certainly the largest. (Another Akshardham temple in the nearby state of Gujarat was the site of a deadly terrorist attack in 2002; and in 1995 the organization opened the largest Hindu temple outside India in the London suburb of Neasden.)

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