The Lotus Temple, located in Delhi, India, is a Baháʼí House of Worship that was dedicated in December 1986. Notable for its flowerlike shape, it has become a prominent attraction in the city. Like all Baháʼí Houses of Worship, the Lotus Temple is open to all, regardless of religion or any other qualification. The building is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad "petals" arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides, with nine doors opening onto a central hall with a height of slightly over 34 meters and a capacity of 2,500 people. The Lotus Temple has won numerous architectural awards and has been featured in many newspaper and magazine articles. A 2001 CNN report referred to it as the most visited building in the world.
Full view of the Lotus Temple
|Type||House of Worship|
|Completed||13 November 1986|
|Opened||24 December 1986|
|Height||34.27 metres (112.4 ft)|
|Diameter||70 metres (230 ft)|
|Structural system||Concrete frame and precast concrete ribbed roof|
|Design and construction|
|Structural engineer||Flint & Neill|
The temple was dedicated 23-27 December 1986 with a gathering of 8,000 Baháʼís from 107 countries, including some 4,000 Baháʼís from 22 provinces in India. On January 1st the temple was opened to the public and more than 10,000 people visited that first day.
By late 2001, it had attracted more than 70 million visitors according to Manpreet Brar, a CNN reporter. The permanent delegation of India to the UNESCO, reported that the Lotus Temple has received over 100 million visitors by April 2014.
The Baháʼí Faith teaches that a Baháʼí House of Worship should be a space for people of all religions to gather, reflect, and worship. Anyone may enter the Lotus Temple irrespective of religious background, sex, or other distinctions, as is the case with all Baháʼí houses of worship. The sacred writings of not only the Baháʼí faith but also other religions can be read and/or chanted, regardless of language; on the other hand, reading nonscriptural texts is forbidden, as are delivering sermons or lectures, or fund-raising. Musical renditions of readings and prayers can be sung by choirs, but no musical instruments can be played inside. There is no set pattern for worship services, and ritualistic ceremonies are not permitted.
All Baháʼí Houses of Worship, including the Lotus Temple, share certain architectural elements, some of which are specified by Baháʼí scripture. ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, 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 Baháʼí Houses of Worship have a dome, this is not regarded as an essential part of their architecture. Baháʼí 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 34.3 meters tall that can seat 1,300 people and hold up to 2,500 in all. The surface of the House of Worship is made of white marble from Penteli mountain in Greece, the same marble used in the construction of many ancient monuments (including the Parthenon) and other Baháʼí buildings. Along with its nine surrounding ponds and gardens, the Lotus Temple property comprises 26 acres (105,000 m²; 10.5 ha).
The temple is located in the village of Bahapur in New Delhi, National Capital Territory of Delhi. The architect was an Iranian, Fariborz Sahba who now lives in La Jolla, California, after living some years in Canada. He was approached in 1976 to design the Lotus Temple and later oversaw its construction. The structural design was undertaken by the UK firm Flint and Neill over the course of 18 months, and the construction was done by ECC Construction Group of Larsen & Toubro Limited at a cost of $10 million. The major part of the funds needed to buy this land was donated by Ardishír Rustampúr of Hyderabad, Sindh (Pakistan), whose will dictated that his entire life savings would go to this purpose. A portion of the 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.
Of the temple's total electricity use of 500 kilowatts (kW), 120 kW is provided by solar power generated by solar panels on the building. This saves the temple 1,20,000 (1.2 lakh) rupees per month. It is the first temple in Delhi to use solar power.
The Temple has received a wide range of attention in professional architectural, fine art, religious, governmental, and other venues.
- 1987, the architect of the Baháʼí House of Worship, Fariborz Sahba, was presented the award for excellence in religious art and architecture by the UK-based Institution of 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 Fariborz Sahba for the design of the Baháʼí House of Worship near New Delhi.
- 1988, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America 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 Encyclopædia 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, based in Vienna, Austria, 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."
By 2003, the Baháʼí World Centre Library had archived more than 500 publications which carried information on the Lotus Temple in the form of articles, interviews with the architect and write-ups extolling the structure. The following are major examples of publications featuring articles on the temple listed chronologically, and excerpted quotations:
- Progressive Architecture, February 1987 and December 1987
- Architecture, September 1987
- Structural Engineer (annual UK journal), December 1987
- Encyclopaedia Iranica, 1989
- World Architecture: A Critical Mosaic 1900-2000, by Kenneth Frampton, Vol 8, 2000 - "A power icon of great beauty ... an import symbol of the city."
- Actualité des Religions (French magazine), Fall 2000 special edition entitled "Les religions et leurs chef-d'œuvres" (Religions and their Masterpieces), four-page article
- Guinness World Records, 2001
- Wallpaper*, October 2002
- Lighting Design + Application Vol 19, No. 6, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America - "Taj Mahal of the Twentieth Century"
- Faith & Form (journal of the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture, an affiliate of the American Institute of Architects), Vol XXI - "An extraordinary feat of design, construction, and appropriateness of expressions"
- BBC Travel, 2016, The world's most beautiful places of worship
- Forever in Bloom: The Lotus of Bahapur, photographs by Raghu Rai and text by Roger White, Time Books International, 1992
- The Dawning Place of the Remembrance of God, Thomas Press, 2002
By 2003, the temple had been featured in television programmes in India, Russia, and China.
- ₹6.50 postage Stamp featuring Baha'i House of Worship, New Delhi, India[failed verification]
- Temple Dedication service, 1986
- Jewel in the Lotus (album) produced in 1987 by keyboardist Jack Lenz for Don't Blink Music, Inc., in Ontario, Canada with songs or voices by Seals & Crofts, Layli Ericks, and others
- "The most visited building in the world," according to CNN reporter Manpreet Brar.
- "The most visited building in India, surpassing even the Taj Mahal with some 4.5 million visitors a year," according to a 2003 article in OneCountry, a publication of the U.S. Baháʼí community.[self-published source?]
- "The most visited religious building in the world," according to Guinness World Records, 2001..[verification needed]
In 2006, some former employees of the Lotus Temple made a complaint to the police that the trustees of the temple had been involved in various crimes including spying, religious conversion and producing false passports. The trial judge directed the police to arrest nine specific trustees, but the Delhi High Court later stayed the arrests.
- Baháʼí News No. 676 1987.
- "Architecture of the Baháʼí House of Worship". National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of India. 2020. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
- Galloway, Lindsey. "The world's most beautiful places of worship". BBC Travel. BBC. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
- "Baháʼí Houses of Worship, India: The Lotus of Bahapur". Baháʼí Association at The University of Georgia. 9 February 2003. Archived from the original on 7 May 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016.
- "Encore Presentation: A Visit to the Capital of India: New Delhi". Cable News Network. 14 July 2001. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
- "5 Interesting Facts About Bahai Lotus Temple in Delhi".
- Perment Delegation of India to UNESCO 2014.
- Rafati & Sahba 1996.
- ʻAbdu'l-Bahá (1982) . The Promulgation of Universal Peace (Hardcover ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. p. 71. ISBN 0-87743-172-8.
- Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Lights of Divine Guidance (volume 1), pg 311
- "Penteli marbles for Bahai temples". Dionyssos Marbles. 2010. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010.
- "Iranian architect living in La Jolla devoted to creating 'spiritual space'". La Jolla Light. 23 January 2013.
- "Fariborz Sahba". In the News. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of Canada. 2003. Archived from the original on 27 October 2004. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
- Naharoy, S. (3 September 2011). "The Baha'i House of Worship" (PDF). ECC Concord (Special Edition, Lotus in Concrete (v2, reprint) ed.). Cerena de Souza: 3–4. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- Faizi, Gloria (1993). Stories about Baháʼí Funds. New Delhi, India: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. ISBN 81-85091-76-5.
- ""Gardens of Worship"". "Recreating Eden". Season 03. Episode 30. 2006. Archived from the original on 1 March 2012.
- Sharma, Sameer (20 October 2015). "Baha'i House of Worship -Lotus Temple is on Solar Energy now". Ohindore.com. Archived from the original on 30 May 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
- Sarwal, Anil (October 2019). "An Architectural Marvel". The Tribune. Chandigarh. Archived from the original on 28 September 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2016 – via Baha'is of India.
- Baháʼí World News Service 2000.
- "Bibliography of Publications". Baháʼí Faith: The Official Website of the Baháʼís of India. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of India. Archived from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- "Articles". The Architecture of Fariborz Sabha. Archived from the original on 13 January 2006. Retrieved 25 April 2016. (click "Publications")
- "Baha'i Philately". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- Prof. Anil Sarwal. "Baha'i Prayers and Songs". Retrieved 15 September 2016 – via Internet Archive.
- "Jewel In the Lotus". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- Commemorations in Chicago highlight the immense impact of House of Worship OneCountry, Volume 15, Issue 1 / April–June 2003
- "HC stays arrest of Lotus temple trustees". webindia123.com. 18 August 2006. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
- "High Court stays arrest of Lotus temple trustees". The Hindu.com. 22 March 2016 [19 August 2006]. Retrieved 22 September 2017.
- "'The Lotus of Bahapur' is dedicated" (PDF). Baháʼí News No. 671. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of the United States. February 1987. pp. 1–5. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
- "Achievements of the Seven Year Plan" (PDF). Baháʼí News No. 676. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of the United States. July 1987. pp. 2–7. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
- "Baha'i Temple in India continues to receive awards and recognitions". Baháʼí World News Service. 5 December 2000. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
- Perment Delegation of India to UNESCO (15 April 2014). "Baháʼí House of Worship at New Delhi". UNESCO World Heritage Convention. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 21 December 2020.
- Rafati, V.; Sahba, F. (1996). "BAHAISM ix. Bahai Temples". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopaedia Iranica. 3 (Online ed.). New York. pp. 465–467. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
- "In the shadow of the lotus, peace and calm prevail". Baháʼí World News Service. Baháʼí International Community. 19 March 2008. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
- Naharoy, S. Architectural Blossoming of the Lotus
- Bahá'í News, June 1986, special issue about the Lotus Temple
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