Crisscrossing Rann of Kutch and Rajasthan - Sri Swaminarayan Mandir Bhuj

Swami Narayan Temple - Bhuj
Swaminarayan Temple - Bhuj

Crisscrossing Rann of Kutch and Rajasthan - Sri Swaminarayan Mandir Bhuj

Today was our fifth day of the journey. We got up early to be ready by 7.30 a.m. After loading the luggage in the car, we gorged upon the iconic Gujarati breakfast of Poha, Fafda & Jalebi coupled with idlis and pakodi. It was from a small roadside eatery and was delicious. A tea vendor nearby was selling tea in a unique combination. The tea was served in a small steel tumbler a saucer. The tea was then to be poured into the saucer and then sipped. The culture of drinking tea from saucer has vanished. It was a refreshing experience to do so and the tea was also very tasty.

Our first stop for the day was Swaminarayan temple.

Swaminarayan Sect

The Swaminarayan sect was started by Sahajanand Swami popularly known as Swaminarayan and so is the sect. Swaminarayan was born in a brahmin family at a village named Chhapaiya near Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh. His name was Ghanshyam Pande. At the age of 11 years, his parents died and he left his home in search of an ashram and a Guru, who practised the four primary schools of Hindu Philosophy Vedanta, Samkhya, Yoga and Pancaratra in a proper way. He travelled across length and breadth of India and also visited Nepal and was finally provided Diksha by Ramanand Swami and named Sahajanand Swami in Gujrat. He was appointed the head of Uddhav sect at the age of 21 by Ramanand Swami before his death. He later came to be known as Swaminarayan because of the Swaminarayan mantra that he taught his disciple after the death of Ramanand Swamy. His disciples believed him to be the manifestation of God. He worked for the upliftment of women and poor. He advocated for the cause of woman literacy very strongly and also organised food and water relief for the poor during draught. He also tried to break the cast systems. The followers of this sect include not only Hindus, but people from other religions as well.

Swami Narayan Mandir Bhuj

The Old Temple

Swaminarayan spent a lot of time in Gujrat ( nearly 30 years) and visited Kutch nearly 20 times. His total accumulated stay in Kutch amounted to nearly seven years. Due to this, he had a very strong base of devotees and followers in Kutch.

During one such visits at Gadhada, to attend Fulol festival, some of his devotees met him and requested him to construct a temple. Swaminarayan deputed Vishwanand Swami for this task. Vishwanand swami and his team of other saints got to work in the year 1822 and a temple was constructed at Bhuj within one year. After completion of the temple, the idol of Narayan Dev was installed by Swaminaran ji in May 1823.

In 2001, when the earthquake caused major devastation in Bhuj, the North wing of the temple was also damaged badly. However, the idols installed inside the temple were totally safe. In spite of that, the devotees and the trustees of the Mandir finally decided to build a new temple near the old one instead of repairing the old one.

The new Temple

In the year 2003, the construction of the new temple was started. It took seven years to complete this masterpiece. The main temple is built with white marble sourced from Makrana and Amba ji in Rajasthan. As per the available information. 1,26,000 cubic feet of marble was used for the construction of this temple. The temple is spread over an area of 35000 square feet. Seven spires adorned with Gold Kalash rise majestically as if touching the sky. There is one main central dome over the mandapam and twenty-five smaller domes around it. A total of 258 very ornately carved pillars support the entire structure. 

Main entrance of Swami Narayan Temple Bhuj
Main entrance of Swaminarayan Temple Bhuj made out of sand stone

Swami Narayan Mandir Bhuj complex
Swaminarayan Mandir Bhuj complex

Side view of Swaminarayan Mandir Bhuj
Side view of Swaminarayan Mandir Bhuj

Frontal view of Swaminarayan Temple Bhuj
Frontal view of Swaminarayan Temple Bhuj

Beautifully carved and symmetric arches and pillars
Beautifully carved and symmetric arches and pillars 

The main Mandap
The main Mandap- The floor is made with inlaying coloured stone in marble and the main idol is also visible.

Ornately carved roof of the mandap
An ornately carved roof of the mandap in Jain temple style

Beautiful inlay work on floor
Beautiful inlay work on the floor

Beautiful patterns on floor with inlay work
Beautiful patterns on the floor with inlay work

Swami Narayan Mandir Bhuj is a sprawling complex. The complex is very well maintained and is very clean. The architecture is inspired by various forms. The main temple is made up of white marble and the architecture of the mandap is that of the Jain Mandirs having torans with beautiful lacework. The floor is the one inspired by Mughal architecture as beautiful patterns have been created on the floor by inlaying coloured stones in the white marble floor. The main deity is Swaminarayan who is worshipped as Krishna as Swaminarayan considered Krishna as his Ishtdevta. There are three idols of Swaminarayan in the temple one each of black and white stone. Ladies cannot go up to the idol, the reason for which nobody could explain. The photography of the idols is prohibited. There is also a museum by the name Akshar Bhawan which has various articles used by Swaminarayan during his lifetime are displayed and is again very well maintained.

After a tour of the temple and the Akshar Bhawan, we were on road again and cruising towards the next destination and highlight of the tour. We will discuss about it in our next post.


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Continued from/to

Criss Crossing Rann of Kutch and rajasthan – Rann Resorts Dholavira

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