Akshardham Temple Complex

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Akshardham Temple Complex

Rising over the traffic jams of National Highway 24 on the way to the eastern suburb of Noida lies a massive, 100-acre temple complex. Completed in November 2005, the pink-stone religious emporium pays tribute to Bhagwan Swami Narayan (1781–1830), the founder of a worldwide spiritual movement that claims a million devotees. An architectural marvel built over five years and without using steel, the elaborate main temple and its soaring domes and 20,000 carved figures only appear ancient. This gleaming complex includes a giant movie theater and a 14-minute boat ride that is quite an experience. Whisking the visitor through 10,000 years of Indian culture, the ride could be mistaken for something straight out of Disney World—Indian style! Just viewing the exhibits takes at least two hours. Admission lines can be lengthy, so allow plenty of time. Security is airtight. All bags and purses, electronics (including mobile phones and cameras), and tobacco products are banned, so check them in or leave them at the hotel or in the car before you get in line. But don't forget your wallet. While donations are voluntary, marketing is persistent. Exhibitions tend to shut an hour before the complex itself; the food court provides decent, cheap vegetarian meals and snacks for those who opt to spend the day.

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