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Holy water from Ganga and Yamuna, sandstone from Rajasthan for first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi

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The newly constructed BAPS Hindu Mandir, ahead of its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Abu Dhabi, UAE

The newly constructed BAPS Hindu Mandir, ahead of its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abu Dhabi: Holy water from Ganga and Yamuna, pink sandstone from Rajasthan, furniture made of wooden trunks used to transport stones from India - the first Hindu stone temple in Abu Dhabi is an architectural marvel made with contributions from different parts of the country.

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The temple is set to be inaugurated on Wednesday by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will lead a dedication ceremony.

On the two sides of the temple, holy water flows from Ganga and Yamuna, which was brought from India in huge containers.

According to temple authorities, an amphitheatre in the shape of a ghat has been built on the side where the water from Ganga flows.

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"The idea was to make it resemble the ghat of Varanasi where the visitors can sit, meditate and get transported mentally to ghats back in India. When visitors walk in they will see two streams of water that symbolically represent the Ganga and Yamuna rivers in India. A beam of light to represent the river Saraswati will be directed from the temple structure to form 'Triveni' Sangam," said Vishal Patel, a lead volunteer at the iconic temple.

The temple has been built by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha on a 27-acre site in Abu Mureikhah, near Al Rahba off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi Sheikh Zayed Highway.

The temple’s facade features exquisite marble carvings set against a sandstone backdrop, crafted from more than 25,000 pieces of stone by skilled artisans from Rajasthan and Gujarat. A substantial number of pink sandstone were transported from northern Rajasthan to Abu Dhabi for the temple.

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Vishal Brahmabhatt, who supervises procurement and logistics at the site, told PTI that more than two lakh cubic feet of "sacred" stone has been transported in more than 700 containers for the temple’s construction.

"The pink sandstone was brought from India. The carving was done by sculptors there and the stones were retrofitted here. Then the artisans gave the final shape to the designs here," he said.

The wooden trunks and containers in which the stones were packed and transported to Abu Dhabi have been reused to make furniture at the temple.

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Swami Brahmaviharidas, head of international relations for BAPS, "The entire furniture which has been placed at various places inside the temple including prayer halls, cafeteria, community centre etc has been made using the wood from the boxes and trunks which were used to transport the stones. There is a bit of India in every corner of the temple".

The temple complex is bordered by buildings that house prayer halls, a community centre to host cultural events, a library, a children’s park and an amphitheatre through which a stream cuts across.

The work for the structure has been going on since 2019. The land for the temple was donated by the UAE government.

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The UAE has three other Hindu temples that are located in Dubai. The BAPS temple, spread over a large area with stone architecture, will be the largest of all in the Gulf region.

Prime Minister Modi will be in the UAE on a two-day visit beginning today. This is his seventh visit to the UAE since 2015 and his third in the last eight months.

During the visit, Modi will hold bilateral meetings with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The two leaders are expected to discuss ways to further deepen, expand and strengthen the strategic partnership between the countries and exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The Prime Minister will later on Tuesday address the Indian diaspora at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi. The UAE has at least 3.5 million Indians who are part of the Indian workforce in the Gulf.

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