Originally posted August 2019.
I spent about two months in Georgia this summer and one of the places I wanted to visit was this Hindu mandir (worship place) just outside of the city of Atlanta in the suburb of Lilburn.
When my sister and I used to live in Atlanta way way back we would always explore the city and attend events together. So when she recommended we visit the temple, I knew it was one of those opportunities that we don’t often come across. My sister picked me up from the airport and we headed straight to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta.
Here’s a quick lesson on BAPS and the mandir. BAPS is a Hindu religious organization within the Swaminarayan sect of Hinduism. This mandir in Atlanta took 2 years to build with 34,000 hand carved pieces of stone shipped all the way from India. Construction finished in 2006.
No picture taking was allowed beyond a certain point closer to the actual building in reverence of the worship grounds. I don’t think I could justifiably describe the intricacy of the bricks, walls and ceiling…UGH!!!
The architectural detailing was reminiscent of the cathedrals of Europe. At certain points there were ivory white details of the different Hindu gods within the pieces, one after the other. In my sister’s words, it is an architect’s dream.
First impressions…”It’s a lot smaller than expected”. That disappointment was quickly overtaken by the beauty of the grounds. It was when we drove around the building to exit the premises that we realized the enormity of the temple!
I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me that the United States of America would house such buildings. In a sense it seems so un-American because once you approach the security gate, you’re almost transported to India as the Indian security guard with his matching accent welcomes you. But then it is America. I’ve driven by so many mosques, European Christian orthodox cathedrals, synagogues and so it only makes sense that obviously there would be beautiful Hindu temples across the country. Visiting such places reminds one not only of the ethnic and cultural diversity – which makes this country great, but also the religious diversity. Maybe I should do a series of traditional religious buildings I come across in America. What do you think?