By Shaneer N. Siddiqui
Abu Dhabi, May 28 (IANS): BAPS Hindu Mandir, Abu Dhabi, marked a significant milestone in the construction journey with the 'MahaPeeth' ceremony -- laying the first stone of the first floor of the Mandir. Thus far, the foundation and the ground floor consisting of 14 layers of stone have been completed and this ceremony marked the start of the next stage in the construction of the Mandir which is set to open its doors in 2024.
Swami Brahmaviharidas, head of the upcoming mandir, and Swami Akshaymunidas Swami who oversees international mandir construction, graced this event, along with over 500 distinguished guests of the UAE including the Ambassador of India to the UAE His Excellency Sunjay Sudhir, community leaders and members of the congregation. The excitement of the architects, technical consultants, community officials and volunteers who attended this event was palpable.
The construction of the first floor of the Mandir is an important feature as it will shape the 'Garbhagruha' (inner sanctum) which is the central shrine in a Mandir which houses the Deities. In addition to the intricately stone-carved Mandir, the complex spread over 55,000 square meters will also include a large amphitheater, an exhibition hall, a library, a food court, a majlis and two community halls with a total capacity to seat 5,000 people.
With seven spires to represent each of the UAE's emirates, the place of worship will be 32 metres tall when it opens in 2024.
Architects and engineers pore over large floor plans to match columns and carvings sent from India to the exact slot at the temple site. Work on the ground floor facade is almost complete. Construction will start soon on the first floor with engravings that depict the lives of Hindu gods, along with friezes decorated with musicians, dancers, peacocks, camels, horses and elephants.
More than 1,000 carvings of deities will be added to brackets across the temple's exterior, with at least 30 planned of the elephant-headed god Ganesha. The steps leading to the temple will portray teachings from other ancient civilisations, such as the Mayans.