The world’s largest modern Hindu temple outside India, the New Jersey Akshardham, opened on Sunday (Oct 8). This extraordinary architectural marvel, sprawling across a 126-acre tract, has been brought to life through the tireless efforts of artisans and volunteers who dedicated approximately 4.7 million hours to hand-carve about two million cubic feet of stone, AP reported. 

Comprising four varieties of marble from Italy and limestone from Bulgaria, these precious materials embarked on an incredible journey, traveling first to India and then traversing over 8,000 miles across the world to reach their destination in New Jersey. Once in place, these meticulously carved pieces were assembled like a giant jigsaw puzzle to create this monumental Hindu temple.

A symbol of spiritual dedication

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The New Jersey Akshardham is a project by the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a global religious and civic organisation within the Swaminarayan sect.

This temple marked the third “Akshardham” or “abode of the divine” built by BAPS, following in New Delhi and Gujarat, where BAPS is headquartered. The organisation, which is celebrating its 50th year in North America next year, oversees a vast network of more than 1,200 temples and 3,850 centres worldwide.


The journey to create the New Jersey Akshardham was not without its challenges. In 2021, a civil lawsuit alleged forced labour, meager wages, and grim working conditions during the temple’s construction, sparking controversy and criticism. Despite these hurdles, the temple stands today as a symbol of resilience and faith, drawing devotees and admirers from across the nation.

Families from all corners of the country have flocked to the temple campus, eager for a sneak peek. Devotees have been bowing in reverence to each other and to monks in saffron robes.

Rituals and ceremonies have been performed in front of the awe-inspiring 49-foot-tall statue of Bhagwan Nilkanth Varni, later known as Bhagwan Swaminarayan, the founder of the sect that initiated a moral and spiritual renaissance in western India.

Other worshippers have been seen prostrating on the floor, pressing their foreheads to the ground in deep reverence. AP reported that others have been engaging in meditation and lighting incense before the deity, marking the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Hindu temples in the United States.

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