Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar built by Bochasan Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan sect is beautiful in concept and execution. It embodies the best ancient and traditional styles of Nagara temple architecture with foundations in vaastu in the Sthaapatya shastras. It took over 13 years and millions of rupees to create this architectural marvel. Construction started in December 1979 and the temple was inaugurated on 2nd November 1992 and has been a popular tourist attraction ever since.
The temple is located in the midst of sprawling 23 acre spread in sector 20 in the city. It is said that over 6000 tons of pink sandstone was transported from Rajasthan to the site. Craftsmen spent years in carving the pillars and idols and the mandaps that grace this grand monument to the faith of Swaminarayan sect.
The main attraction is the central Akshardham temple. It stands 108 feet tall and 131 feet wide. It is about 240 feet in length and has about 97 pillars; each exquisitely carved supporting 17 domes and 8 balconies. There are about 220 beams and 264 sculpted figurines in the temple that covers an area of 32427 square feet. One of the unique features of the temple is that it follows vastu tradition and no metal reinforcements were used in the construction. The garbha griha houses a seven foot tall idol of Lord Swaminarayan covered in gold leaf with the idol resting on a pedestal about three feet high. The temple complex is elevated and a sandstone paved approach leads to it with stone steps.
The temple is surrounded by a beautiful planned garden covering 15 acres. There is a colonnaded sandstone paved and domed gallery with seats so that visitors can rest in the shade before proceeding to the exhibition hall. Visitors are admitted in batches and from one scenario to another, all of which are located underground. Visitors get to view the Nityanand show, the sat chit anand exhibition and the film on a giant screen. There is an open air assembly ground used for cultural events and a sound and water show that comes on at sunset. In all, the complex is beautifully planned with inputs by some leading architects and designers.
However, the focal point of attraction is the main temple executed in the traditional nagara style of North Indian temple architecture, a rare monument since there are very few temples built in modern times that can match the beauty of Akshardham.