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Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple

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The Bahá'í House of Worship in Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, popularly known as the Lotus Temple due to its flowerlike shape, is a Bahá'í
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 House of Worship
Bahá'í House of Worship
A Bahá'í House of Worship, sometimes referred to by its Arabic name of Mashriqu'l-Adhkár ,is the designation of a place of worship, or temple, of the Bahá'í Faith...

 and also a prominent attraction in Delhi. It was completed in 1986 and serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

. It has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.


As with all other Bahá'í Houses of Worship
Bahá'í House of Worship
A Bahá'í House of Worship, sometimes referred to by its Arabic name of Mashriqu'l-Adhkár ,is the designation of a place of worship, or temple, of the Bahá'í Faith...

, the Lotus Temple is open to all regardless of religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, or any other distinction, as emphasized in Bahá'í texts
Bahá'í literature
Bahá'í literature, like much religious text, covers a variety of topics and forms, including scripture and inspiration, interpretation, history and biography, introduction and study materials, and apologia...

. The Bahá'í laws emphasize that the spirit of the House of Worship be that it is a gathering place where people of all religions may worship God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 without denominational restrictions. The Bahá'í laws also stipulate that only the holy scriptures of the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

 and other religions can be read or chanted inside in any language; while readings and prayers can be set to music by choirs, no musical instruments can be played inside. Furthermore no sermon
A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts...

s can be delivered, and there can be no ritualistic ceremonies practiced.


All Bahá'í Houses of Worship, including the Lotus Temple, share certain architectural elements, some of which are specified by Bahá'í scripture. `Abdu'l-Bahá
‘Abdu’l-Bahá , born ‘Abbás Effendí, was the eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. In 1892, `Abdu'l-Bahá was appointed in his father's will to be his successor and head of the Bahá'í Faith. `Abdu'l-Bahá was born in Tehran to an aristocratic family of the realm...

, the son of the founder of the religion, stipulated that an essential architectural character of a House of Worship is a nine-sided circular shape. While all current Bahá'í Houses of Worship have a dome, this is not regarded as an essential part of their architecture. Bahá'í scripture also states that no pictures, statues or images be displayed within the House of Worship and no pulpits or altars be incorporated as an architectural feature (readers may stand behind simple portable lecture stands).

Inspired by the lotus flower, the design for the House of Worship in New Delhi is composed of 27 free-standing marble clad "petals" arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. The nine doors of the Lotus Temple open onto a central hall slightly more than 40 meters tall that is capable of holding up to 2,500 people. The surface of the House of Worship is made of white marble from Penteli mountain in Greece, the very same from which many ancient monuments and other Bahá'í Houses of Worship are built. Along with its nine surrounding ponds and the gardens, the Lotus Temple property comprises 26 acres (105,000 m²; 10.5 ha).

The site is in the village of Bahapur, in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The architect was an Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian, who now lives in Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, named Fariborz Sahba
Fariborz Sahba
Fariborz Sahba is an Iranian Bahá'í architect, now living in Canada.-Career:He has a Masters degree from Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran...

. He was approached in 1976 to design it and later oversaw its construction. The major part of the funds needed to buy this land was donated by Ardishír Rustampúr of Hyderabad, who gave his entire life savings for this purpose in 1953. A portion of construction budget was saved and used to build a greenhouse to study indigenous plants and flowers that would be appropriate for use on the site.


Since its inauguration to public worship in December 1986, the Bahá'í House of Worship in Delhi has, as of late 2002, attracted more than 50 million visitors, making it one of the most visited buildings in the world. Its numbers of visitors during those years surpassed those of the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world...

 and the Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal is a white Marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal...

. On Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 holy days, it has drawn as many as 150,000 people; it welcomes four million visitors each year (about 13,000 every day or 9 every minute).

This House of Worship is generally referred to as the "Lotus Temple". In India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, during the Hindu
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 festival Durga Puja
Durga Puja
Durga puja ; দুর্গা পূজা,ଦୁର୍ଗା ପୂଜା,‘Worship of Durga’), also referred to as Durgotsava ; , is an annual Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It refers to all the six days observed as Mahalaya, Shashthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navami and...

, several times a replica of the Lotus Temple has been made as a pandal
A pandal is fabricated structure, either temporary or permanent, in a religious ceremonies including weddings.It is derived from Tamil...

, a temporary structure set up to venerate the goddess Durga
For the 1985 Hindi Film of Rajesh Khanna see DurgaaIn Hinduism, Durga ; ; meaning "the inaccessible" or "the invincible"; , durga) or Maa Durga "one who can redeem in situations of utmost distress" is a form of Devi, the supremely radiant goddess, depicted as having eighteen arms, riding a lion...

. In Sikkim
Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayan mountains...

 a permanent replica is of the Hindu Legship
Legship is a small town in West Sikkim district in the Indian state of Sikkim. The Rangit Dam lies up stream, a dam which the people of Legship were partly responsible for.Another famous place of interest is the Kirateshwar Mahadev Temple....

 Mandir, dedicated to Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...



The Temple has received wide range of attention in professional architectural, fine art, religious, governmental and other venues.


  • 1987, the architect of the Bahá'í House of Worship, Mr. Fariborz Sahba, was presented the award for excellence in religious art and architecture by the UK-based Institution of Structural Engineers
    Institution of Structural Engineers
    The Institution of Structural Engineers is a professional body for structural engineering based in the United Kingdom. It has 27,000 members in 105 countries. The Institution provides professional accreditation for structural engineers...

     for producing a building "so emulating the beauty of a flower and so striking in its visual impact".

  • 1987, the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture, Affiliate of the American Institute of Architects, Washington, D.C., gave their First Honour award for "Excellence in Religious Art and Architecture" 1987 to Mr. F. Sahba for the design of the Bahá'í House of Worship near New Delhi.

  • 1988, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America
    Illuminating Engineering Society of North America
    The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America is a non-profit learned society that was founded in New York City on January 10, 1906. The IES's stated mission is to improve the lighted environment by bringing together those with lighting knowledge and by translating that knowledge into...

     conferred the Paul Waterbury Outdoor Lighting Design Award - Special Citation for Exterior Lighting
  • 1989, the Temple received an award from the Maharashtra-India Chapter of the American Concrete Institute for "excellence in a concrete structure".
  • 1994 edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, in its 'Architecture' section gives recognition to the Temple as an outstanding achievement of the time.
  • 2000, Architectural Society of China as one of 100 canonical works of the 20th century in the recently published "World Architecture 1900-2000: A Critical Mosaic, Volume Eight, South Asia."
  • 2000, GlobArt Academy in Vienna presented its "GlobArt Academy 2000" award to the architect of the Lotus Temple, Fariborz Sahba, for "the magnitude of the service of [this] Taj Mahal of the 20th century in promoting the unity and harmony of people of all nations, religions and social strata, to an extent unsurpassed by any other architectural monument worldwide."


As of 2003 it had been featured in television programmes in India, Russia and China. The Baha'i World Centre Library has archived more than 500 publications which have carried information on the Temple in the form of articles, interviews with the Architect and write-ups extolling the structure.
  • In France, the magazine "Actualite des Religions" published a four-page article on the Lotus Temple in the fall of 2000 in a special edition called "Les religions et leurs chef-d'œuvres" (Religions and Their Masterpieces).
  • Guinness World Records
    Guinness World Records
    Guinness World Records, known until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records , is a reference book published annually, containing a collection of world records, both human achievements and the extremes of the natural world...

  • Architecture (magazine)
    Architecture (magazine)
    Originally titled Journal of the American Institute of Architects from January 1944 through 1951, the magazine changed its name to The American Institute of Architects Journal. After publication of the AIA Journal ended in August 1976, then followed Architecture magazine...

     Sept. 1987
  • Lighting Design+Application Vol 19, No. 6, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America "Taj Mahal of the Twentieth Century"
  • Wallpaper* October 2002
  • Progressive Architecture
    Progressive architecture award
    The Progressive Architecture Awards annually recognise risk-taking practitioners and promote progress itself in the field of architecture. The editors of Progressive Architecture magazine hosted the first Progressive Architecture Award jury in 1954. In 1996, the magazine folded and the venue was...

    , February and again December 1987
  • World Architecture: A Critical Mosaic 1900-2000, Vol 8, by Kenneth Frampton
    Kenneth Frampton
    Kenneth Frampton , is a British architect, critic, historian and the Ware Professor of Architecture at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University, New York....

    , Springer-Verlog Wien publishers, New York - "A power icon of great beauty ... an import symbol of the city."
  • Faith & Form - Journal of the IFRAA affiliate of the American Institute of Architects
    American Institute of Architects
    The American Institute of Architects is a professional organization for architects in the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the AIA offers education, government advocacy, community redevelopment, and public outreach to support the architecture profession and improve its public image...

    , Vol XXI "an extraordinary feat of design, construction and appropriateness of expressions"
  • Structural Engineer
    Structural engineer
    Structural engineers analyze, design, plan, and research structural components and structural systems to achieve design goals and ensure the safety and comfort of users or occupants...

    , UK (annual) Dec. 1987
  • Encyclopaedia Iranica 1989


  • Forever in Bloom: The Lotus of Bahapur, Photographs by Raghu Rai
    Raghu Rai
    Raghu Rai is an Indian photographer and photojournalist. A protege of Henri Cartier-Bresson who appointed Rai, then a young photojournalist to Magnum Photos in 1977, which he co-founded....

    , text by Roger White
    Roger White
    Roger Lowrey White was a British Conservative Party politician and company director.At the 1970 general election, he was elected as Member of Parliament for Gravesend in Kent, a marginal seat which traditionally was won by the party in power...

    , Time Books International, 1992
  • The Dawning Place of the Remembrance of God, Thomas Press, 2002


  • Temple Dedication service (1986).
  • Jewel in the Lotus (album) produced in 1987 by the keyboardist Jack Lenz
    Jack Lenz
    Jack Lenz is a Canadian Bahá'í composer. He has written, performed, and produced music for film, television, and theatre, along with working on non-soundtrack album ventures. He is also the founder of Live Unity Enterprises, an organization devoted to the production of music for the Bahá'í...

     for Don't Blink Music, Inc., in Ontario, Canada with songs or voices by Seals & Crofts, Layli Ericks, and others.

Most visitors

  • "the most visited building in the world, according to a CNN report"
  • "the most visited building in India, surpassing even the Taj Mahal
    Taj Mahal
    The Taj Mahal is a white Marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal...

     with some 4.5 million visitors a year."

Notable visitors

  • (1998 article with short list of notable visitors)
  • (2003 list of notable visitors)
  • (2004 addition)
  • Pandit Ravi Shankar sitar
    The 'Tablaman' is a plucked stringed instrument predominantly used in Hindustani classical music, where it has been ubiquitous since the Middle Ages...

  • Ambassadors of Tanzania, Hungary, Panama
  • Officers of Government (Ministers, Premiers) from Bermuda, Hungary, India, Ivory Coast, Nepal, USSR/Russia, Romania, Singapore, Tajikstan, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zambia
  • Members of the Supreme Court of India
    Supreme Court of India
    The Supreme Court of India is the highest judicial forum and final court of appeal as established by Part V, Chapter IV of the Constitution of India...

  • Prince Niranjan Shah, of Nepal
  • Dr. Uton Muchtar Rafei, Regional Director, World Health Organization
    World Health Organization
    The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

  • The President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
    Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson
    Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is the fifth and current President of Iceland. He has served as President since 1996; he was unopposed in 2000, re-elected for a third term in 2004, and re-elected unopposed for a fourth term in 2008. He is the longest-serving left-wing president in the history of...

     was the first Head of State
    Head of State
    A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

     on an official state visit
  • Amjad Ali Khan
    Amjad Ali Khan
    Amjad Ali Khan is an Indian classical musician who plays the sarod. Khan was born into a musical family and has performed internationally since the 1960s...

     Classical Indian musician/composer
  • Princess Margarita of Romania
    Princess Margarita of Romania
    Princess Margarita of Romania , also styled as Crown Princess of Romania, Custodian of the Romanian Crown, former Princess of Hohenzollern, is the eldest daughter of Michael I , King of Romania , former Prince of Hohenzollern, and of his wife, Anne of Bourbon-Parma...

     and her husband, Prince Radu von Hohenzollern-Veringen
  • First Lady of the Slovak Republic, Silvia Gasparovicova
    Silvia Gašparovicová
    Silvia Gašparovičová née Beníková is the current first lady of Slovakia, wife of Ivan Gašparovič.Gašparovičová attended the Slovak Technical University from 1960 until 1965 where she studied civil engineering and also from 1971 to 1973 she studied economical law at Comenius University...

  • Sathya Sai Baba
    Sathya Sai Baba
    Śri Sathya Sai Baba , born as Sathyanarayana Raju was an Indian guru, spiritual figure, mystic, philanthropist, and educator. He claimed to be the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi, a spiritual saint and miracle worker who died in 1918 and whose teachings were an eclectic blend of Hindu and...

     in April 2010

See also

  • Bahá'í Faith in India
  • Sydney Opera House
    Sydney Opera House
    The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre in the Australian city of Sydney. It was conceived and largely built by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, finally opening in 1973 after a long gestation starting with his competition-winning design in 1957...

    - a modern structure with a similar design

External links