Yesterday, the second largest Hindu temple in the world opened in Robbinsville, NJ, near Trenton. The official press release says:
On October 8, 2023, the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham in Robbinsville, New Jersey, was inaugurated by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of BAPS. This monumental occasion for Hindu Americans was marked by the presence of volunteers, dignitaries, and well-wishers, all coming together under a shared spirit of reverence and community spirit.
The event today was the third and final murti pratishta of the central murti (sacred image) of Bhagwan Swaminarayan in the Akshardham Mahamandir. In his blessings after the rituals, Mahant Swami Maharaj said, “May all souls who come here experience param shanti (eternal bliss) and param anand (eternal happiness) in their lives.” He continued, “I pray that through this [Swaminarayan] Akshardham, may the values within the principles of the Akshar Purushottam philosophy, which are rooted in the Vedas, be understood and celebrated; may the values and glory of Sanatan Dharma proudly continue.”
Envisioned by the esteemed spiritual leader His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, Akshardham serves as a beacon of peace, inspiration, and unity for individuals from all walks of life. It is a center for religious practice, cultural expression, art and architecture, and education. BAPS initiated the creation of Swaminarayan Akshardham in 2011. At its essence, Akshardham is a revered Hindu place of worship that honors Bhagwan Swaminarayan (1781-1830) and Hindu deities across its 13 inner sanctums.
Drawing from traditional mandir architecture described in ancient Hindu scriptures, Akshardham was created to stand for over a millennium. With stones from Italy, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, India, and other countries, it was intricately hand-carved by master artisans in India and assembled in Robbinsville, New Jersey, by over 12,500 volunteers from North America and around the world. Akshardham is truly a global endeavor. It is destined to be a guardian of universal values of faith, unity, and selfless service for generations.
“I felt the sense of community from the second I stepped into this space today. I strive to make clothing that empowers women and the next generation. Today, I met so many women [who] gave me a new understanding of what strength and power really means. They’re here to make a difference, to inspire generations to come through the work that they’ve done to preserve our culture, so that it lives on. That is truly the ultimate form of strength and power,” said Megha Rao, founder and designer at holiCHIC by Megha, at an event celebrating women’s contributions.
“[BAPS] has become part of our community, and we are honored that you thought to choose our community and had the vision to turn this piece of land into something that is truly unbelievable and one of the wonders of the world,” said Robbinsville Mayor David Fried at the Community Day celebration that brought together over 38 elected officials of which 16 were mayors from across the nation.
Volunteers from diverse age groups and professions, including students, entrepreneurs, and career professionals, united to create this spiritual haven. Beyond safeguarding their cultural heritage, Akshardham symbolizes the diversity and vibrancy of the Indian American community in the United States. Their selfless contributions, offered as acts of devotion, highlight the essence of unity and mutual respect shared among them all.
“The samp (unity) between the volunteers is incredible. The ability to come from so many different walks of lives and so many places and all come together and contribute to something that’s bigger than themselves… To accomplish something great, you need to be devoted to something outside of yourself. This [Akshardham] will have a greater impact than [winning] the NBA Championship,” said Aaron Gordon, NBA Champion with the Denver Nuggets, during his visit to Akshardham in September.
With a deep commitment to service, BAPS launched several community programs in anticipation of the grand opening of Akshardham. Among these were the Days of Giving campaign and an extensive 10-week marathon blood drive. The Days of Giving initiative successfully gathered over 12,000 donations, encompassing school supplies, hygiene essentials, and food items to address the pressing needs of the local community. Meanwhile, the marathon blood drive, recognized as one of the longest-running drives in New Jersey, was a response to the nationwide blood shortage, amassing enough donations to potentially save over 10,000 lives. These efforts resonate with Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s guiding principle, “In the joy of others lies our own,” and align with Akshardham’s central aim: to inspire selfless service for the greater good of the community.
Sgt. Scott Kivet of the Robbinsville Police Department shared, “As we enter the gates here [Akshardham], we enter a community of absolute beautiful spirit. Your ability to always serve… I’ve noticed we have doctors directing traffic, cleaning dishes; we have engineers driving trucks. There is no ego on this campus. You serve, and everybody here is a stakeholder. It is God’s will that we met you and understand your culture now.”
The “Festival of Inspirations,” a three-month-long celebration leading up to the opening of the
Swaminarayan Akshardham, commemorated Hinduism’s legacy of inspiring thoughts, values,
and culture. As part of the festival, a series of Vedic Mahayagna, a traditional Hindu prayer
ceremony, was performed by devotees and well-wishers to offer heartfelt prayers for peace and
harmony with oneself and the world. Events leading up to the grand opening ceremony
featured a variety of programs celebrating diverse communities throughout the nation, honoring
women for their contributions, and highlighting Hindu principles of unity, non-violence, and
“Through harmony, unity, and inclusivity, you all have accomplished a remarkable feat under
the guidance of your spiritual gurus. I am positive that great people like Nelson Mandela and
Mahatma Gandhi would appreciate the beautiful art and architecture of this Akshardham. More
importantly, they will cherish the principles of peace for all, harmony and love upon which the
structure stands,” expressed Ndileka Mandela, the eldest grandchild of Nelson Mandela at the
Women’s Youth event.
“As I looked through this magnificent structure, the words that popped into my head were
words from the Vayikra from Leviticus: love your neighbor as yourself. We are on this planet
together and need to work together to make the world a better place. There’s more that unites
us than divides us,” said Rabbi Jay M. Kornsgold, Senior Rabbi at Beth El Synagogue, at the
Interfaith Harmony Day, where religious leaders from different faiths engaged in an open
Akshardham, the largest Hindu mandir in the western hemisphere, houses a unique feature at
its foundation. Messages from Hindu scriptures and esteemed thought leaders, including
Abraham Lincoln, Confucius, Buddha, Mirabai, Martin Luther King Jr., and others, adorn the
Mahamandir’s Wisdom Plinth, reflecting the universal teachings and inclusivity at the heart of
In a reflective address days before the opening, Mahant Swami Maharaj emphasized, “While the
physical structure of Akshardham is complete, our task now is to internalize the values it
Beyond being a sacred space for Hindu Americans to deepen their faith, Akshardham invites the
broader community to experience Hindu and Indian culture and traditions. For enthusiasts of
culture and architecture, it will serve as a hub of knowledge and learning.
Looking ahead, Akshardham will also feature a museum with interactive exhibits explaining not
only Hinduism’s history, core teachings, and universal values but also the remarkable journey of
how Akshardham was created.
Akshardham will be open to all visitors on October 18, 2023. For more information or for
inquiries about future visits, please visit https://usa.akshardham.org/.