The latest in the series of snippets from the blog of my erstwhile travelling companion, Burness, as well as a short interview, on his views on a World Wonder. This time: Akshardham.
Our next stop on our whistle stop Delhi wonders tour was Akshardham Temple. It’s a Hindu temple with a main focus on one particular guru. Now this building was impressive. The temple is huge and incredibly extravagant. It’s made from pink sandstone and white marble with around 20,000 carved deities. It was constructed by hand using the same techniques as were used in ancient times. After visiting so many ancient ruined temples with carvings in a state of disrepair, it was great to see what a temple looks like in its prime. The attention to detail is magnificent, the walls, ceilings and pillars of the temple have exquisite designs.
The only thing that lets the temple down is that it appears to have another side, that of a theme park. There’s a boat ride, a water show and the hall of values, a kind of show with animatronics detailing Indian history and culture. These extra features seem to lessen the impact of the building as a temple for spiritual worship, but as I’ve found out from visiting various Hindu temples, Hinduism is one religion that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is also about having fun along with worship.
Had you heard of Akshardham before travelling?
What were your expectations?
Well, you saw it first and you bigged it up. [But surely you must have had some kind of expectations before I said anything?]. Sure, well, I didn’t think it would be that impressive. [Why?] Because a lot of the modern temples I'd seen in Burma were built on the cheap and looked tacky and gaudy. I was expecting the same.
What was your first impression?
I was blown away. Throughout our travels we’d see lots of old ruined temples and this was the first time was saw a temple in its prime. The intricate details of the sculptures and the architecture was mind blowing.
What did you like most about Akshardham?
The detail of the sculptures, the amount of them, the variety, it all seemed larger than life.
What didn't you like about the Akshardham?
You couldn’t take photos inside, which sucked. And it’s also got another side to it, a kind of theme park, which did introduce a kind of tackiness to the whole spectacle.
Would you regard Akshardham as a World Wonder?
It’s not old enough in my opinion. It didn’t have the wow factor… in the way that made me wonder how they built it. I certainly got that from the likes of the Sydney Opera House.