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Over 350,000 devotees visited Abu Dhabi Hindu temple in first month

The newly built temple, which was inaugurated by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on February 14, was opened for the public on March 1.

This picture taken in Abu Dhabi on February 14, 2024, shows preparations ahead of the arrival of the Indian prime minister for the inaguruation of the BAPS Hindu Mandir, the largest Hindu temple in the Middle East. (Photo by RYAN LIM/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

MORE than 350,000 devotees paid a visit to the first stone Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates within a month of its opening to the public, the temple authorities have reported. The iconic temple, inaugurated by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on February 14, welcomed visitors starting March 1.

“In the first month, there were approximately 350,000 devotees and visitors, 50,000 of whom visited each weekend (Saturday–Sunday). It’s important to note that on Mondays the Mandir conducts private prayers and is closed to visitors, meaning the complex was accessible for only 27 out of the 31 days in March,” a temple spokesperson told news agency Press Trust of India.

“Every evening from Tuesday to Sunday, Ganga aarti is performed at 7.30 pm on the banks of the Swaminarayan ghat, which has been created using holy water from Ganga and Yamuna transported from India,” the official added.

Read: Indian-origin banker Vishal Patel quit high-paying job to serve at Abu Dhabi BAPS Hindu temple

The grand temple was inaugurated during a dedication ceremony attended by over 5,000 invitees on February 14. The temple has been built by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha on a 27-acre site in Abu Mureikhah, near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway, at a cost of around Rs 700 crore.

Constructed with 1.8 million bricks and 180,000 cubic metres of sandstone sourced directly from the Indian state of Rajasthan, Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu temple has been made in the Nagara style of architecture, just like the Ram Temple in Ayodhya in India’s Uttar Pradesh which was inaugurated on January 22.

Read: BAPS Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi opened; IN PICS

The BAPS Hindu Mandir is the largest in all of the Gulf region.

The UAE has three other Hindu temples in Dubai.

“Since the temple is little on the outskirts and in the middle of a desert, public bus service from the city has been started for weekends to allow visitors to easily come to the temple,” the spokesperson said.

During Modi’s two-day visit to the Gulf nation in 2015, the UAE allocated land for constructing a temple in Abu Dhabi. This visit held significant diplomatic importance, as Modi became the first Indian PM after Indira Gandhi to visit this strategically vital Gulf nation in 34 years.

The construction of the temple began in 2019.

The UAE has at least 3.5 million Indians who are part of the Indian workforce in the Gulf. The land for the temple was donated by the UAE government. Seven spires representing seven emirates of the UAE, carvings of camels, and national bird falcon, are part of the architecture of the first Hindu stone temple in Abu Dhabi, to give equal representation to the host country.

To give equal representation to the host country, along with animals that occupy an important place in Indian mythology such as elephants, camels and lions, the UAE’s national bird, the falcon, has also been included in the design.

Apart from 15 tales from India, including the Ramayana and Mahabharata, stories from Mayan, Aztec, Egyptian, Arabic, European, Chinese and African civilizations have also been depicted in the temple.

(With PTI inputs)

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