The famed Baha'i Temple in Delhi, a modern architectural marvel is often referred to as the Lotus Temple due to its distinctive shape. It is a traditional place of worship of the Baha'i faith. Since its completion in 1986 it has consolidated its position as one of the most popular tourist attractions of the Indian capital.
Like all Baha'i places of worship, the Lotus Temple features several characteristic design elements, some of which are denoted by the Baha'i scriptures. The son of the founder of the religion, Abdu'l Baha specified that a Baha'i place of worship should have a circular nine-sided shape. Conforming to this design specification and drawing inspiration from the lotus flower, the Delhi Baha'i Temple features 27 individually positioned marble covered ‘petals' placed in groups of three so as to create nine sides. The building also has a dome, although this element is not considered an essential component of a Baha'i place of worship.
The Lotus Temple has nine doors which provide entry to a huge central hall which can accommodate 2,500 persons. This hall is over 40m high and its surface is composed of white marble, which has its origin in Greece's Penteli Mountain; notably this identical material was used in many historical monuments including earlier Baha'i temples. The design and project management of the building took 10 years involving chief architect Fariborz Sahba and a team of 800 technicians, engineers, artisans and workers. The entire extent of the temple and its surrounding gardens and ponds amounts to 26 acres.
As is the practice amongst all Baha'i temples, the Lotus Temple is open and accessible to all individuals regardless of religious or cultural differences. This is in keeping with the precepts of the Baha'i faith, the youngest of the world's independent religions. This faith emphasizes the unity of all humanity and accepts the leaders of other religions as messengers of God; the central prophet of the Baha'i faith is Baha'u'llah (1817 – 1892).
According to Baha'i precepts religious scriptures may be read or chanted in any language, and choirs are acceptable; however musical instruments, any kind of sermons and religious ceremonies or rituals are not permitted.
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