Hinduism is the world’s oldest and one of the most followed religions in the world. And it is reaching new people every day thanks to projects like “BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, USA”. This Akshardham mandir in the USA is the greatest example of the faith and belief of people in divine God. This temple was a simple but enduring vision of the late His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He wanted everyone to find peace, happiness, and inspiration while they entered Swaminarayan Akshardham, regardless of what they believed and what backgrounds they were from.  This Akshardham Maha Mandir is designed on the existing campus of BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, USA which was inaugurated and opened for the public to visit on August 10, 2014. Akshardham Maha Mandir is a new addition to this campus, which was re-inaugurated on October 8, 2023. Since then, it has been open to the public. 
The Akshardham Mandir is the largest Hindu temple in the USA, the second largest outside of India, and the most visited Hindu temple outside of Asia. 
What do you think? Making this kind of stone structure, for which we have to excavate so many stones, is really a sustainable practice? What do you think of this kind of traditional architecture? If you’d like this type of blog, then share it with your friends and tell us which topic you want to read next from architecture.
About this project
This temple complex in Robbinsville, New Jersey, is built in Nagaradi style and represents Hindu architecture, culture, unity, inspiration, and selfless service. The Maha Mandir was constructed under the guidance of BAPS’s leaders, Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj. By bridging India’s heritage with modern America.  It has a total area of 740,575 sqm (the whole temple campus).  The Maha Mandir is constructed on a total of 183 acres with a volume of 255 ft. (w) x 345 ft. (l) x 191 ft. (h).  The first marble stone was installed in a ceremony on September 4, 2017, in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj. A huge celebration ceremony was conducted to commemorate this day. 
The construction of this masterpiece was handled by 12,500 volunteers around the globe. They provided their service ranging from 10 days to more than 3 years to 5 years. The construction of this temple complex took 12 long years, from 2011 to 2023.  The total cost of the construction is estimated at about 96 million dollars. Now this temple stands tall and bears the symbol of love, peace, hope, and harmony. Preserving the values and traditions across generations.
Inspiration for this Akshardham, USA was taken from some of the marvelous structure of Hindu architecture, like Jagannath Mandir, Kedarnath Mandir, Bribadishvara Mandir, Somnath Mandir, Kailash Mandir, Meenakshi Mandir, BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, Dwarkadhish Mandir, etc. The maha mandir reflects the thoughts and values of Bhagwan Shri Mahavir, Bhagwan Shri Swaminarayan, Bhagwan Shri Ram, Srimad Ramanujacharya, Bhagwan Shri Krishna, Bhagwan Shri Buddha, Swami Shri Vivekanand, and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. 
Structure and Material
It is never easy to build a structure like this; it demands various load calculations and concrete work to support this amount of load. The Maha Mandir is founded on a web of 896 piles, each carrying a load capacity of 75 to 200 tons. These piles are capped with a 4 feet-thick, 7,200-cubic-yard slab of stone weighing 14,000 tons. The foundation needed to be this strong because it was carrying the structural load of the mandir and all the stone pillars that were standing tall to support the structure. At the top of the mandir, they installed the biggest oval-shaped traditional Hindu dome in the world. The construction of this mandir is done mostly with stone. The total weight of the stone used for the maha mandir is 1,10,000 tons. It is unique amongst all Hindu mandirs built from stone in the last 600 years. 
The maha mandir consists of 548 stone pillars, 548 stone beams, 46 super structures, and a parikrama colonnade that is 2485 ft. long, 15 ft. wide, and 42 ft. tall. The parikrama colonnade has 540 pillars and samarans.
Design and Detailing
The unique temple design includes 9 shikhars (spire-like structures), 9 pyramidal shikhars, 12 sub-shrines, and a main shrine. The maha mandir have 9 Maha Mandapams with inverted domes and 235 Mandapams or stone canopies with decorative carved ceilings. The Akshardham Maha Mandir in USA includes design elements from ancient Indian art, architecture, and culture, including 10,000 statues (some gold-plated), carvings of 151 ancient Indian musical instruments, scared symbols, jali patterns, and 108 Hindu classical dance forms, and water from various holy rivers in India. All the carved stone and sculptures are installed on the pillars and walls of the mandir. 
It is encased with a colossal mandap for external protection. The 135-ft wide mandap with delicate engravings on the pillars stands 55 feet tall. The main gate of the mandap, called Mayur Dwar, is a major attraction of the temple. Robbinsville BAPS Swaminarayan Temple’s Mayur Dwar is meticulously adorned with 236 sculptures, including peacocks, elephants, monks and devotees carved out of marble. 
The construction of this mandir was taken into consideration in terms of sustainable design. This includes a solar panel powering clean energy, an ecologically friendly fly ash concrete mix, and the preservation of surrounding wetlands. 
Stonework begins with extracting it from queries around the world. Procuring 2 million cubic feet of stone from around the world in just 5 years seemed impossible for many years. But they did it with different measures; approximately 4529 containers worth of stones were mined and sent to Rajasthan, India, for carving and stonework. Here in India, 2000 skilled artists and craftsmen hand-crafted and turned those stones into beautiful works of art. Over 200,000 stones were carved, shipped back to USA, and then assembled at the Akshardham Maha Mandir. It was never easy to handle this many stones on the site and work with them all.
The stones and woods were brought from different countries around the world.
Limestone: Bulgaria, Turkey
Marble: Greece, Turkey, Italy
Granite: India, China
Other decorative stones: Europe, Asia, and Latin America
Teakwood: Burma 
Key features and different spaces in Akshardham
The whole temple campus consist of great example of architecture and Hindu culture representation. Have a look on the different spaces of the campus with highlighting the features of them:
Nilkanth Plaza: A Space For Reflection
- This plaza reflects and is dedicated to the sacred image of Nilkanth Varni, the teenage form of Bhagwan Swaminarayan. He was also the founder of Swaminarayan Hindu traditions.
- A 49-foot-high image of Bhagwan Swaminarayan symbolizes the 49 years of life spent by him on earth.
- The canopies, made of Rajasthani and Turkish pink sandstones, adorn the plaza and provide a place for you to sit, reflect, connect with yourself and others, and clear your mind before entering Akshardham. 
Brahm Kund: A Traditional Stepped Pond
- This Brahm Kund, the center attraction of this campus, is inspired by the stepped wells of India.
- This stepped pond consists of water from over 300 sources of water around the world, 108 holy rivers and bodies of water in India, as well as water from each of the 50 states of America.
- Hinduism sees water as a symbol of life, rejuvenation, tranquility, and purity. For this reason, many of the Hindu mandirs are created alongside serene bodies of water. 
Welcome Center: A Place of Warmth & Hospitality
- The welcome center is designed based on the traditional Indian Haveli architecture from western India, which contains hand-carved wood. The welcome center reflects hospitality and is considered a sacred practice “Atithi Devo Bhava”.
- The teakwood that was used for the carving was sourced from Burma for its durability, natural water-resistant qualities, and striking woodgrain.
- Over 2,700 types of lamps illuminate the welcome center, which symbolizes the festival of light, Diwali. 
Traditional Hindu Mandir: A Space of Serenity
- A place for worship where the mind finds stillness and the soul discovers inner peace
- Various scary images and murtis are placed on the pillars and walls, which are carved from stone. 
Shayona Café: A Fusion of Flavors and Faith
- A place where people can find food and relax with their family and friends. Before serving the food, it is served to the divine and transformed into Prasad, and then that is served to the devotees.
- The café has a unique Indo-Western ambiance that is designed with a sunroof and an open courtyard.
Akshardham Museum: Celebrating unity in diversity
- The museum consists of elements that introduce the spiritual history of the Hindu faith and its rich culture.
Akshardham Mahamandir: The Grand Centerpiece
- The centerpiece is designed in such a way that it will stand for a thousand years. Stone stories installed in the mandir have different stories.
- The four types of stones that are selected for this masterpiece include limestone, pink sandstone, marble, and granite, which can withstand extreme heat, cold, and weather conditions.
- 12500 volunteers across the world and the US dedicated 5 million+ man hours to help build this masterpiece that will inspire people for generations.
- The design of this mandir is inspired by various Hindu scriptures and features elements from Indian culture and heritage, including 10,000 statues and statuettes.
- Nearly 2 million cubic feet of stone are used for the construction of Akshardham Maha Mandir, USA.
Organization behind this Akshardham, USA
BAPS is a volunteer-driven organization committed to fostering individuals growth through Hindu values, faith, service, and harmony. It was founded in 1905 by the Yagnapurushdas (Shastriji Maharaj), who also built the first mandir in Bochasan, Gujarat, India. This first mandir also led to his organization being known as “Bochasanwasi.” As of 2019, BAPS has a total of 44 Shikharbadda madirs and more than 1200 mandirs worldwide. The mandirs are located in countries like India, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and the UAE (construction will soon finish in the UAE).
Some of the known mandirs worldwide are Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Akshardham Mandir, USA, and others. Almost every mandir is named after His Holiness Shri Swaminarayan. 
Location and Visitor Guidelines
The exact location of the Akshardham Maha Mandir is “112 N Main Street, Robbinsville township, New Jersey 08561, USA” and it is accessible from every possible transportation service. Parking facilities for victors is also available at the campus.
The mandir is open for devotees every day except Tuesday from 9am to 7pm. To read more about visitors guidelines, daily rituals, and other important information, click here.
Why these kinds of projects need to be done
This kind of project needs to be done because it contains great values, holds great power, has religious significance, and brings different communities together. It becomes a landmark and a symbol of peace for people and brings them close to the divine God.
For architecture Akshardham, USA, is a kind of project that showcase remarkable architectural details, traditional design elements, stunning structures, stone and wood carvings, ornamented domes, arches, and various other details. It also showcases the blending of traditional and modern architecture design, sustainability, cultural representation, and aesthetic beauty.
These projects are not only places of worship but also cultural, social, and economic centers that play a significant role in promoting understanding, unity, peace, inspiration, and the preservation of heritage.
What do you think after studying this blog “BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham: The 2nd Biggest Hindu Temple outside India located in Robbinsville, New Jersey, USA”? What are your thoughts? Comment below.