The Lotus Temple in New Delhi, also known as the Baha’i Temple, is a masterpiece of modern architecture that combines Indian history and modern engineering. Opened in 1986, this temple and Baha’i House of Worship is one of New Delhi's symbols and one of the most visited landmarks in India.
Located in the capital of India, Delhi, the Lotus Temple is one of the nine Baha'is House of Worship in the world. The Bahai Faith is a relatively new religion, established in the late 19th century, that teaches the essential worth of all religions and the unity of all people. The worship place is called Mashriqu’l- Adhkar in Arabic, which means “a dawning place for the remembrance of God.” A Bahai Temple is a silent teacher of the Baha’i faith. The temple has a number of Houses of worship that is dedicated to social, educational, humanitarian, and scientific pursuits.
Known for its flowerlike shape, it has become a popular tourist attraction for people from all religions, not just people with Bahai faith. The temple was completed and opened to the public in January 1987. The occasion gathered 10,000 visitors, among which 4,000 were Baha’is from 107 countries and some 4,000 from 22 provinces in India.
The lotus temple was designed by Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba. As per the religious instructions, the temple has nine sides, keeping in mind the belief in the mystical belief in the number nine. The temple is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad petals arranged in clusters of three. These three clusters form nine sides, a door on each side that opens into a central hall. Looking from the outside, it appears that the top of the structure is open, but it is cleverly left that way. In reality, it is sealed with glass and a steel roof that keeps the central hall naturally lit. The central hall is 34.3 meters high, with a capacity of 2,500 people. The white marble on the surface of the temple was imported from Penteli Mountain in Greece. The temple is built in a way that gives an effect of a floating lotus flower so close to full bloom, surrounded by its leaves. Besides the House of Worship,
The Lotus temple also has nine ponds, gardens, and red sandstone walkways, making the total surface area of 105,000 meters square.
For its beautiful structure, the architect won an award even before the temple was completed. The temple also received several architectural awards after its completion as well including the award for Excellence in Religious Art and Architecture in 1987, the Outdoor Lighting Design Award in 1988, and the award for Excellence in a Concrete Structure in 1989, to name a few. It also has been featured in many newspapers and magazine cover pages. The picture of the Lotus Temple also appears on the 6.50 postage stamp.
Unlike other Baha’i temples, the Lotus temple does not have a dome, as it is not regarded as an essential part of the religious site. There are no pictures, statues, or images in the house of worship that could distract the worshippers.
The Lotus Temple is open to everybody, irrespective of their religious beliefs. In 2001, it was labeled as the most visited building in the world. To this date, it attracts thousands of tourists throughout the year.