Swaminarayan Akshardham is a newly opened Hindu Temple in New Jersey, United States. The temple which was inaugurated in October 2023 has become the largest Hindu temple outside Asia. Moreover, it is currently the second-largest Hindu temple in the world as well.
According to official records, there are more than 3 million Hindus living in the United States. In addition, New Jersey has the highest number of Hindus than any other state with a number of more than 400,000. While there are nearly 200 Hindu Temples in the US, none of them are as grand as the New Swaminarayan.
The construction of the temple began in 2011, more than a decade ago, and cost nearly 100,000,000 dollars. 12,500 people from all over the world came to the state and worked voluntarily on the construction of Swaminarayan. The temple’s layout follows the sacred Hindu scriptures and also takes inspiration from the temples in India.
A religious ritual during the opening of Swaminarayan.
The temple spreads over 180 acres which makes it the second-largest temple behind Angkor Wat‘s 500 acres. Experts call Swanimarayan the greatest Hindu temple of modern times and it is probable that this temple may find itself in heritage lists like Angkor Wat.
There are over 10,000 statues and sculptures in the temple depicting various mythological figures and events in Hinduism. What is more interesting is the fact that the exterior of the temple and the statues are all carved from Carrara marble. The marble first found themselves in India where sculptors carved the shapes and then India shipped them to the US.
Not only there are statues from Hindu beliefs, but also statues of historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln. The temple officials say that these figures represent the connection between these important Americans, what they believe in, and Hindu Americans.
While the temple is an impressive sight, it is not without controversy either. After construction, many workers claimed that they experienced forceful and exploitative conduct from the BAPS officials, which is one of the major Hindu denominations in the world. The BAPS denied these claims saying that they treated the volunteer workers with utmost care.