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This 30-year-old temple was built with more than 10,000 different sizes of white marble sourced from Greece’s Penteli Mountains
The Lotus Temple, a Bahá’í House of Worship, has been a recognised symbol of India since it opened in Delhi in 1986. Over the past three decades, it has been a spiritual structure for all faiths and religions, in keeping with the Bahá’í school of thought. The 26-acre plot on which the temple stands was bought with the help of Ardishír Rustampúr of Hyderabad, who donated his life savings in 1953 for the temple’s construction. But it wasn’t until 1976 that Iranian-born Canadian architect, Fariborz Sahba, was approached to design it.
Sahba conceptualised a lotus-shaped structure, as the flower is considered sacred across religions. He designed 27 freestanding marble-clad “petals” and arranged them in clusters of three to form nine sides. This was in keeping with Abdu’l-Bahá, the Bahá’í founder’s son’s stipulation that the building have a nine-sided circular shape. Each of the nine sides has a door that opens onto a central hall that has a height of over 40 metres and accommodates 2,500 individuals. The temple, its nine surrounding ponds and the lawns make up the premises of this place of worship.
One of its key features is that this is the first temple in Delhi to use solar power, generating 120KW of its 500KW electric usage. In an interview with the WSJ, Sahba said that during its making – 30 years ago in India – he was able to find the attributes and attitudes necessary to build the Lotus Temple. “I could see the excitement in all those who saw my preliminary design. You could feel reverence and the respect workers had for the building during construction. That was very unique. Only in India could I get 400 carpenters to work six years with that kind of sincerity, that kind of devotion and respect,” said the septuagenarian.
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