One of Delhi’s biggest, newest, and most grandiose attractions, Swaminarayan Akshardham is a gorgeous temple complex. The vast grounds house not only a place of worship, but also an animatronics experience, an IMAX-style theater showing a film about the temple’s namesake, and a theme park–style boat ride.
Opened in 2005, Swaminarayan Akshardham is a sprawling complex featuring a 108-foot-tall (33-meter) main temple made from 6,614 tons (6,000 metric tons) of pink sandstone and full of intricate carvings. Along with the temple, there are all sorts of facilities here, including a sprawling food court serving vegetarian food, a gift shop selling books and religious paraphernalia, and a variety of Vedic-themed exhibitions and attractions.
Many operators offer private and small-group temple tours to the complex, which can be particularly useful for visitors looking to learn about Hinduism. Some more general Delhi city tours stop here as well.
Things to Know Before You Go
Swaminarayan Akshardham is a must-see for architecture buffs—and is entertaining for kids, too.
Cameras, mobile phones, umbrellas, and other large items must be left in the free cloakroom.
Wear clothing that covers your shoulders, upper arms, and knees. If you are not dressed modestly, sarongs are available with a deposit.
The complex is accessible to wheelchair users, and loaner wheelchairs are available with a deposit.
How to Get There
Akshardham is just off the NH 24 on the eastern banks of the Yamuna River, making it less convenient for independent travelers to visit than many of the more centrally located attractions located west of the river. That said, it’s only a 15-minute ride on the metro’s Blue Line from Rajiv Chowk station in Connaught Place to Akshardham station, right in front of the complex. If driving, on-site parking is available for a fee.
When to Get There
The main temple (mandir) and various Indian culture exhibitions and attractions are open 9:30am to 8pm (last entry at 6:30pm) Tuesday through Sunday year-round. Prayer ceremonies (aartis) are held daily at 10am and 6pm, and there’s a water show just after sunset every night.
Who Was Swaminarayan?
This impressive temple was named after Swaminarayan, also known as Neelkanth, an Indian yogi born in the late 18th century. He became an ascetic at the age of 11, and spent seven years traveling throughout the country before going to study with a guru and later becoming a prominent Hindu leader in his own right. Neelkanth was radical for his time in that he believed that women, like men, deserved education and a life free from abuse or oppression.