As you enter the airspace of New Delhi, one thing that catches your eye–as you look out the window of your descending flight–is the magnificent Lotus Temple. Surrounded by pools of pristine blue water, it stands in solitude like a beacon washing over the day-to-day chaos and harsh city lights of the Indian capital.
With a carpet of lush green grass spread around them, the pools around the temple resemble the leaves of a lotus. When in full bloom, white roses and petunias planted in the vicinity add vibrancy to an otherwise dull day. While this man-made marvel seems to touch the sky, its roots lie anchored in the Bahá’í beliefs.
Their writings propagate the idea that messiahs such as Prophet Mohammed, Jesus Christ, Krishna and the Buddha are ‘Manifestations of God’. It is this belief that encourages different faiths to co-exist. As a testament to this liberated view, the ‘house of worship’ as the Bahá’í call the temple, has no allegories, mythological references and idols.
Engineering genius Sahba
The process of designing the temple was no less than undertaking a spiritual journey for creative genius Fariborz Sahba. He travelled across India, exploring concepts that would appeal to all religions and at the same time reflect the values of the Bahá’í faith. During his travels, the Iranian-American architect met fellow Bahá’í Kamrudin Bartar, who suggested designing the temple in the shape of a lotus. Though it was an ideal concept, translating the idea of a flower into a physical structure was a challenging task.
And so it began, brick by brick. The fruit of labour of 800 craftsmen resulted in this architectural marvel nestled amid the quintessential cacophony of Nehru Place.
A trip to the temple
The sweltering heat and the freezing cold of Delhi seldom deter the unlikely pilgrims from visiting the temple. The quiet that envelops the entire space makes one forget the chaos the city is synonymous with.
Some choose to just sit and admire the place, while others take advantage of the ambience and meditate. With the absence of any rituals and prescribed activities, the mind drifts, and somewhere in that stillness, we start to ponder over where we stand in the vastness of the universe.