Temples in our country are usually dimly-lit, narrow and congested but the newly-built Swaminarayan Temple in the outskirts of the city is, actually, both a visual and a spiritual treat. The temple complex inaugurated in January, last year, has been built on a plot measuring 10 acres. The red sand stone temple amidst all the greenery brings serenity to your heart as well to your senses, far away from the buzz of the city.
You can reach this latest attraction of the city by taking the Diamond Harbour Road from Behala. Continue straight on this road and pass by Joka and Pailan World School to find the temple complex on your left.
The reason for choosing the spot to erect the temple lies in the belief according to which Lord Swaminarayan (Swami Sahajanand), who toured the entire country, visited Himalayas and then reached Gangasagar. He resided at Kapil Muni’s ashram. On his way back, he liked this place and hence it was regarded as the perfect spot to raise a temple dedicated to Swaminarayan. After almost 10 years, the temple was completed due to the initiatives of Pramukh Swami Maharaj.
The temple has two gates both on Diamond Harbour Road. You can enter through either of them. A staircase leads you to the main portico. The main temple stands in the middle of a well laid out lawn with flowering pots all around, lending a picturesque setting. The red sandstone used for construction was brought all the way from Rajasthan. Around 26,000 blocks of sandstone were used in the construction of the majestic temple which measures 180 feet in length, 100 feet wide and 80 feet in height. The temple is adorned by seven pinnacles, a tall minar, 14 small minars and 5 tapered ceilings. There are engravings and carvings on the walls depicting 400 acharayas and noted monks of ancient times which not only enhance the spiritual environment of the temple but are also instances of wonderful craftsmanship that has gone into the construction work.
The pathway leading from the gate to main temple area has an encirled section where there are two large foot prints of Swaminarayan. The two hands of the lord are perceived to be a kilometer away from the parikrama. The deity itself is the heart while the minars are his head. In other words, the entire temple complex is deemed to be the holy physical being of Swaminarayan, considered by his devotees as Purushottam. On either side of the temple are two kundas which are used to wash and cleanse hands and feet of the devotees before they enter the mandapam. The parikrama which enables you to circle the entire temple is 1400 metres in length and has 46 small minars adorning it apart from sitting areas for the elderly and those with mobility problems.
Inside the temple, the main idol is that of Lord Swaminarayan. It is believed that Swaminarayan had come to the earth to teach people to get rid of their desires. He initiated reforms against evil social practices such as female foeticide, violence, sati and also against drugs and alcoholism. He left for Akshardham with an assurance that he would be omnipresent through his spiritual successor Shri Guantit Guru and Shri Guru Parmeshwara.
The other idols in the temple are Gurunanatinad Swami, Radha-Krishna and Ghansham Maharaj. The deity of Nilkanth Varni has been established at the Abhishek Mandapam placed underneath the main temple. Swaminarayan had travelled across the country adopting the name, Nilkanth Varni. Hence, this place is thought to be the purest of all where offerings and puja takes place. Shri Nilkanth Varni is prayed for health, prosperity and peace. All the idols are made off Aras stone while the Nilkanth Varni is the only gold plated idol in the temple.
The daily aarti takes place five times a day. It starts at 6:00 am in the morning, known as Mangrati Aarti, 7:30 am is the Sanghar or Shringar Aarti and 11:30 am is devoted to Rajbhog Aarti. In the evening, the aarti commences at 6:30 pm i.e. the Sandhya Aarti and concludes with the Sayan Aarti at 8:00 pm.
For ordering bhog, you need to give them a 10-day prior intimation. The bhog costs about `115 and mainly consists of a Gujrati Thali with roti, dal, chawal, dhokla and other items. Satsangs are organised on every Sunday morning (8:00 am – 9:00 am) for children and evening (3:00 pm – 5:00 pm) for adults in a large hall behind the temple.
The temple complex also has two parking lots, a clean and spacious canteen and a book stall. Special attention is paid to keep the premises clean and no littering is allowed. Ayurvedic medicines are also available at the book stall.
Dos & Don’ts
1. Outside food and drinks are not allowed inside the temple complex
2. Attires shorter than knee-length are to be avoided
3. Visitors have to abide by the opening and closing hours of the temple
4. Electronic devices must be switched off while in the main mandapam
Location: On Diamond Harbour, Joka, near Pailan World School
Entry fee: Nil
Photography: Not Allowed
Timings: 7:30 am -12 noon / 3:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Main mandir darshan closed:
10:45 am – 11:30 am/12 noon – 3:30 pm/ 5:45 pm – 6:30 pm
Parking: Inside the temple premises