Swaminarayan Temple in BhujThe name “Swaminarayan temple” is not unfamiliar to anybody who is familiar with the history of Hinduism. The sub-set of Hinduism i.e. Vaishanvism has the Swaminarayan temple at its core. Sachananand Swami or Swaminarayan who was the founder of the all the 9 Swaminarayan temples in India is a well recognized religious icon who was also widely believed to be one of the avatars of Narayan.
The Swaminarayan temple of Bhuj has a rich history of rituals, myths and miracles associated to it. A visit to this temple is considered to be very auspicious and this is why this is a top tourist attraction in Bhuj
History of Swaminarayan TempleSwaminarayan is also known as Sahajanand Swami who was famous as the central figure in the religion of Hinduism. Some religious texts mention him to be an avatar of Mahayana. Swaminarayan advocated a slightly modified version of Hinduism known as Vaishnavism. He was followed by 20 million people including Hindus and Zoroastrians. He established 9 temples in 9 different cities and these temples came to be known as SwamiNarayan temples. Bhuj was one of the chosen cities in which the Swaminarayan temple was hosted. All Swaminarayan temples hold images of Hindu Gods like NarNarayan Dev, RadhaKrishna Dev, MadanMohan Dev, RadhaRaman Dev, Revti-Baldevji etc. the Swaminarayan temple Bhuj falls under the NarNarayan Dev Gadi Ahmadabad.
Shree Swaminarayan always had a special attraction towards the Kutch. He is said to have visited the area himself first in Maha Sud 7 Samvat 1860. Subsequently he visited Kutch for a total number of 20 times and had a huge devotee base there. Some bhakts (devotees) became famous in their own right and they are Ladibha, Gangaram Mall, Khaiyo Khatri and Sundarji Suthaar. In fact Gangaram ji and Sundarji inspired Lord Swaminarayan to bless the town of Bhuj with a temple. The famous saint Vaishavananand Swami made the plans of the temple in 1822 along with his entourage of disciples. All plans were executed to the last detail and it was exactly after one year that the Swaminarayan temple was completed.The idols of Narnarayan Dev and Hari Krishna Maharaj were established by Swaminarayan himself which was a great honor for the hundreds of devotees in the town of Bhuj.
When the earthquake of Gujarat happened in 2001 a lot of damage occurred to the temple property. Miraculously all the idols remained unscathed. All devotees and saints of Swaminarayan sect get together to rebuild the temple and it was decided that a new structure would be built on the banks of the Hamirsar Lake. On 7th May 2003 construction work commenced for the new temple and it took exactly 7 years for it to get completed.600 sculptors spent over 15 million hours in the construction of the temple.
The Swaminarayan temple of Bhuj is constructed of 100% pure marble and occupies a whooping 35,000 square feet. There are 7 pinnacles, 1 towering central dome and 25 minor domes apart from 258 pillars. The marble of Makrana and Ambaji give a celestial look to the temple.
Structure of the Swaminarayan TempleIt’s a remarkable fact that all the Swaminarayan temples have similar kind of architectural pattern. The Bhuj temple is certainly no exception. There is a big shrine in the center of the temple with a path around it which allows worshippers to walk around in a revolution (circumbulation) outside the shrine. The shrine is made up of marble and has Vaishnavi motifs engraved inside. The shrine is divided by railings to form separate areas which are reserved for men and women. In the Swaminarayan temple only men are supposed to do prostrations. There is an enclosed area in which ascetics and VIP guests pray.
All the images in the temple are evident of the priority given to Lord Krishna. There is a huge central alter (shrine) dedicated to the worship of Lord Krishna. Besides the Swaminarayan temple premises in Bhuj there are neat rows of accommodations constructed for the abode of Sadhus.
Apart from Lord Krishna idol in the central dome, there are Radha Krishna Dev and Hari Krishna Maharaj idols under the eastern dome. The western dome contains statue of Ghanshyam Maharaj while the main square contains Ganpati bapa and Hanumanji. The Swaminarayan temple has a gold throne and even the dome of the temple is made of pure gold.
There are the following accessory buildings in the temple compound:
Ladies TempleThis is newly constructed and has a small altar with space for about 1000 female devotees to meditate and worship.
Sabha MandapThis is 60 feet high and has space for 15000 devotees to sit and listen to religious discourses held there.
Shree Narnarayan Dev KotharThis houses the temple office and is situated right next to the Sabha Mandap
Sant Ni VaasThis has accommodation arrangements for more than 200 saints and bhakts. There are arrangements for reading scriptures and performing Bhajans.
Vishranti BhavanThis has accommodation options for devotees from different parts of India and abroad. There are 4 family rooms and 18 triple bedrooms where accommodation is provided free of cost.
Bhojan HallFeasts and community meals are hosted in this hall. About 2000 general and 300 VIP seats are present.
The Bhuj Swaminarayan temple is believed to be one of the biggest and most auspicious Swaminarayan temple. The Golden throne and few idols are sometimes transported to UK and Melbourne Swaminarayan temples when Pujas or special occasions happen there. The journey is obviously made under tight security.
Timing and Location of Swaminarayn TempleThe devotees and tourists can visit the Swaminarayan temple between 6.00 A.M to 7.00 P.M. Aarti usually happens at 9.00 A.M in the morning and at 6.00 P.M in the evening.
The temple is located on the banks of Hamirsar Lake and is at a short distance away from the old temple.
The Ram Navami Puja along with other festivals is celebrated with great candor in the temple premises.
Bhoj/feast is also organized for the devotees by the temple authorities.