The first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East will be built by 2020 and hand carved by Indian artisans.
The first temple in Abu Dhabi will be built at Abu Mureikha, off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway, said a spokesman from the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha that will design, construct and manage the temple.
“The stones will be carved by temple artisans in India and assembled in the UAE. The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is both honoured and humbled to have been invited and entrusted to design, construct and manage the Temple by the rulers of the UAE and the Government of India,” he said.
The temple in the UAE would be unique, he said and among the 1,200 temples managed by BAPS in India, UK, USA, Canada, Australia and Africa.
It would include a visitors’ centre, prayer halls, exhibitions, learning areas, sports area for children, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, a books and gift shop.
The temple will be open to people of all religions and will be part of the UAE’s aim to foster tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
“It will facilitate the traditional practice of the Hindu faith and serve the over 3.3 million Indians residing in and the millions of international tourists annually visiting the UAE through interfaith dialogue, pluralism and universal human values. It will also nurture the children of today and future generations towards a brighter future,” the spokesman said.
The best known temples run by the Trust or Sanstha are the two sprawling Akshardham temples in India, in Gandhinagar and New Delhi, and a third being built in Robbinsville, New Jersey.
The Abu Dhabi temple will likely resemble the architecturally intricate temple in India’s capital New Delhi and the under construction temple in New Jersey, according to people with knowledge of the project.
Akshardham means ‘divine abode of god.’
The Abu Dhabi temple will be much smaller than the New Delhi monument, and likely on the lines of the temple in Jersey where the marble carvings are against a sandstone building backdrop.
Some of the main striking features of the existing temples are a water body surrounded by a green open space with the pillars, arches and small domes looking over the site.