Bahá'í House of Worship
Full view of the Lotus Temple
Location within New Delhi
|Type||House of Worship|
|Location||New Delhi, India|
|Completed||13 November 1986|
|Opened||24 December 1986|
|Height||34.27 metres (112.4 ft)|
|Diameter||70 metres (230 ft)|
|Structural system||Concrete frame and precast concrete ribbed roof|
|Design and construction|
|Structural engineer||Flint & Neill|
The Lotus Temple, located in Delhi, India, is a Bahá'í House of Worship completed in 1986. Notable for its flowerlike shape, it serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent and has become a prominent attraction in the city. Like all Bahá'í Houses of Worship, the Lotus Temple is open to all, regardless of religion or any other qualification. The building is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad "petals" arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides, with nine doors opening onto a central hall with height of slightly over 40 metres and a capacity of 2,500 people. The Lotus Temple has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. A 2001 CNN report referred to it as the most visited building in the world.
The Bahá'í Faith teaches that a Bahá'í House of Worship should be a space for people of all religions to gather, reflect, and worship. Anyone may enter the Lotus Temple irrespective of religious background, sex, or other distinctions, as is the case with all Bahá'í Houses of Worship. The sacred writings of not only the Bahá'í Faith but also other religions can be read and/or chanted, regardless of language; on the other hand, reading non-scriptural texts is forbidden, as are delivering sermons or lectures and fundraising. Musical renditions of readings and prayers can be sung by choirs but no musical instruments can be played inside. There is no set pattern for worship services, and ritualistic ceremonies are not permitted.
All Bahá'í Houses of Worship, including the Lotus Temple, share certain architectural elements, some of which are specified by Bahá'í scripture. `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, stipulated that an essential architectural character of a House of Worship is a nine sided circular shape. While all current Bahá'í Houses of Worship have a dome, this is not regarded as an essential part of their architecture. Bahá'í scripture also states that no pictures, statues or images be displayed within the House of Worship and no pulpits or altars be incorporated as an architectural feature (readers may stand behind simple portable lecture stands).
Inspired by the lotus flower, the design for the House of Worship in New Delhi is composed of 27 free-standing marble-clad "petals" arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. The nine doors of the Lotus Temple open onto a central hall slightly more than 40 metres tall that can seat 1,300 people and hold up to 2,500 in all. The surface of the House of Worship is made of white marble from Penteli mountain in Greece, the same marble from which many ancient monuments (including the Parthenon) and other Bahá'í Houses of Worship are built. Along with its nine surrounding ponds and the gardens, the Lotus Temple property comprises 26 acres (105,000 m²; 10.5 ha).
The temple is in the village of Bahapur in New Delhi, National Capital Territory of Delhi. The architect was an Iranian, who now lives in Canada, named Fariborz Sahba. He was approached in 1976 to design it and later oversaw its construction. The structural design was undertaken by the UK firm Flint and Neill over the course of 18 months, and the construction was done by ECC Construction Group of Larsen & Toubro Limited. The major part of the funds needed to buy this land was donated by Ardishír Rustampúr of Hyderabad, Sindh, who gave his entire life savings for this purpose in 1953. A portion of the construction budget was saved and used to build a greenhouse to study indigenous plants and flowers that would be appropriate for use on the site.
Of the temple's total electricity use of 500 kilowatts (KW), 120KW is provided by solar power generated by the building. This saves the temple 120,000 rupees per month. It is the first temple in Delhi to use solar power.
The Bahá'í House of Worship in Delhi was inaugurated to public worship in December 1986. By late 2001, it had attracted more than 70 million visitors, making it one of the most visited buildings in the world. According to the government of India, it had received over 100 million visitors by April 2014.
The Temple has received wide range of attention in professional architectural, fine art, religious, governmental, and other venues.
- 1987, the architect of the Bahá'í House of Worship, Mr. Fariborz Sahba, was presented the award for excellence in religious art and architecture by the UK-based Institution of Structural Engineers for producing a building "so emulating the beauty of a flower and so striking in its visual impact".
- 1987, the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture, Affiliate of the American Institute of Architects, Washington, D.C., gave their First Honour award for "Excellence in Religious Art and Architecture" 1987 to Mr. F. Sahba for the design of the Bahá'í House of Worship near New Delhi.
- 1988, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America conferred the Paul Waterbury Outdoor Lighting Design Award - Special Citation for Exterior Lighting
- 1989, the Temple received an award from the Maharashtra-India Chapter of the American Concrete Institute for "excellence in a concrete structure".
- 1994 edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, in its 'Architecture' section gives recognition to the Temple as an outstanding achievement of the time.
- 2000, Architectural Society of China as one of 100 canonical works of the 20th century in the recently published "World Architecture 1900-2000: A Critical Mosaic, Volume Eight, South Asia".
- 2000, GlobArt Academy, based in Vienna, Austria, presented its "GlobArt Academy 2000" award to the architect of the Lotus Temple, Fariborz Sahba, for "the magnitude of the service of [this] Taj Mahal of the 20th century in promoting the unity and harmony of people of all nations, religions and social strata, to an extent unsurpassed by any other architectural monument worldwide."
By 2003, the Baha'i World Centre Library had archived more than 500 publications which have carried information on the Lotus Temple in the form of articles, interviews with the architect and write-ups extolling the structure. The following are major examples of publications featuring articles on the temple listed chronlogically, and excerpted quotations:
- Progressive Architecture, February 1987 and December 1987
- Architecture, September 1987
- Structural Engineer (annual UK journal), December 1987
- Encyclopaedia Iranica, 1989
- World Architecture: A Critical Mosaic 1900-2000, by Kenneth Frampton, Vol 8, 2000 - "A power icon of great beauty ... an import symbol of the city."
- Actualité des Religions (French magazine), Fall 2000 special edition entitled "Les religions et leurs chef-d'œuvres" (Religions and their Masterpieces), four-page article
- Guinness World Records, 2001
- Wallpaper*, October 2002
- Lighting Design + Application Vol 19, No. 6, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America - "Taj Mahal of the Twentieth Century"
- Faith & Form (journal of the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture, an affiliate of the American Institute of Architects), Vol XXI - "An extraordinary feat of design, construction and appropriateness of expressions"
- BBC Travel, 2016, The world's most beautiful places of worship
- Forever in Bloom: The Lotus of Bahapur, photographs by Raghu Rai and text by Roger White, Time Books International, 1992
- The Dawning Place of the Remembrance of God, Thomas Press, 2002
By 2003, the temple had been featured in television programmes in India, Russia, and China.
- Temple Dedication service, 1986
- Jewel in the Lotus (album) produced in 1987 by keyboardist Jack Lenz for Don't Blink Music, Inc., in Ontario, Canada with songs or voices by Seals & Crofts, Layli Ericks, and others
- "The most visited building in the world," according to a 2001 CNN report.
- "The most visited building in India, surpassing even the Taj Mahal with some 4.5 million visitors a year."
- "The most visited religious building in the world," according to Guinness World Records, 2001.
- A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, President of India, and Lal Krishna Advani, Deputy Prime Minister of India
- Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland, first Head of State on a state visit
- Members of the Supreme Court of India
- Prince Niranjan Shah of Nepal
- Silvia Gasparovicova, First Lady of the Slovak Republic
- Ambassadors of Tanzania, Hungary, and Panama
- Ministers or premiers from Bermuda, Hungary, India, Ivory Coast, Nepal, Romania, Singapore, Tajikistan, USSR, Yemen, Yugoslavia, and Zambia
- Prince Radu of Romania, heir to the abortive Romanian throne, and Princess Margareta of Romania, great-granddaughter of Queen Marie of Romania, a follower of the Bahá'í Faith
- Dr. Uton Muchtar Rafei, Regional Director, World Health Organization
- Pandit Ravi Shankar, famous sitar player and composer
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th and current Dalai Lama
- Sathya Sai Baba, Indian guru and philanthropist
- 1998 article including a short list of notable visitors (see bottom paragraph): 
- 2003 list of notable visitors (see bottom section): 
- 2005 addition: 
- Bahá'í Faith in India
- Prayer in the Bahá'í Faith
- Bahá'í teachings
- Other modern structures with similar designs:
- Chicago Bahá'í House of Worship
- Sydney Bahá'í House of Worship
- "Architecture of the Bahá'í House of Worship". National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India. 2012. Retrieved Apr 12, 2016.
- "Bahá'í Houses of Worship". Bahá'í International Community. 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-09.
- Galloway, Lindsey. "The world's most beautiful places of worship". BBC Travel. BBC. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
- "Bahá'í Houses of Worship, India; The Lotus of Bahapur". Bahá'í Association at The University of Georgia. Feb 9, 2003. Archived from the original on 5 May 2016. Retrieved Apr 12, 2016.
- "Encore Presentation: A Visit to the Capital of India: New Delhi". Cable News Network. July 14, 2001. Retrieved Jan 19, 2015.
- Rafati, V.; Sahba, F. (1996). "BAHAISM ix. Bahai Temples". In Yarshater, Ehsan. Encyclopaedia Iranica. 3 (Online ed.). New York. pp. 465–467. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
- `Abdu'l-Bahá (1982) . The Promulgation of Universal Peace (Hardcover ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 71. ISBN 0-87743-172-8.
- Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Lights of Divine Guidance (volume 1), pg 311
- Permanent Delegation of the Government of India to UNESCO. "Bahá'í House of Worship at New Delhi". UNESCO World Heritage Convention. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Archived from the original on 26 August 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
- "Penteli marbles for Bahai temples". Dionyssos Marbles. 2010. Archived from the original on 26 July 2010.
- "Fariborz Sahba". In the News. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada. 2003. Archived from the original on Oct 27, 2004. Retrieved Jan 19, 2014.
- Naharoy, S. (September 3, 2011). "The Baha'i House of Worship" (pdf). ECC Concord (Special Edition, Lotus in Concrete (v2, reprint) ed.). Cerena de Souza: 3–4. Retrieved June 6, 2014.
- Faizi, Gloria (1993). Stories about Bahá'í Funds. New Delhi, India: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. ISBN 81-85091-76-5.
- ""Gardens of Worship"". "Recreating Eden". Season 03. Episode 30. 2006.
- Sharma, Sameer (20 October 2015). "Baha'i House of Worship -Lotus Temple is on Solar Energy now". Ohindore.com. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
- Sarwal, Anil. "An Architectural Marvel". Baha'is of India. The Tribune, Chandigarh. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- "Baha'i Temple in India continues to receive awards and recognitions". Bahá'í International Community. Bahá'í World News Service. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- "Bibliography of Publications". Bahá'í Faith: The Official Website of the Bahá'ís of India. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of India. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- "Articles". The Architecture of Fariborz Sabha. Retrieved 25 April 2016. (click "Publications")
- "Baha'i Philately". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- Prof. Anil Sarwal. "Baha'i Prayers and Songs". Retrieved 15 September 2016 – via Internet Archive.
- "Jewel In the Lotus". Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- Commemorations in Chicago highlight the immense impact of House of Worship OneCountry, Volume 15, Issue 1 / April–June 2003
- "First presidential visit to Lotus Temple". Bahá'í International Community. Bahá'í World News Service. 18 March 2003. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
- "President of Iceland visits Baha'i Temple in New Delhi". Baha'i World News Service. 14 Nov 2000. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- "Distinguished visitors praise Baha'i Temple". Bahá’í World News Service. 12 January 2005. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
- "Sri Sathya Sai Baba's trip to Delhi and Shimla - 2010". Sai Baba of India. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
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