The golden halo of the Akshardham temple which overlooks the Commonwealth Games Village is attracting athletes and delegates, many of whom are taking out time to visit the temple structure which is a stone's throw away from the village.
While not many have ventured out to explore the city, the temple is drawing a lot of visitors.
A shop has been specifically set up at the village to provide information about the temple and for making bookings for guided tours. The two to three-hour-long tour is free for athletes, team and Games officials and their family members.
The guided tours are organised by the Akshardham Mandir authorities. Games volunteer Narattam Pattni, who provides information to those interested in taking a tour, said: “The temple has had about 100 visitors including athletes and officials from Bahamas, Jersey, Guyana, Scotland, South Africa, Canada, Mauritius, England, New Zealand, Wales and Sri Lanka. On Monday we had a team of 15 from Malaysia who visited the temple.”
Visitors are taken around various sites of the temple and can witness the exhibitions on display. Towards the evening, an attractive fountain show too can be seen. Intricate carvings, impressive sculptures and elaborate domes characterise the temple which is built of pink stone and marble. At the centre of the temple is an 11-foot-high gold-plated statue of Swaminarayan to whom the temple is dedicated.
Praising the temple, two athletes from Wales and England said: “There was so much to see around the temple. Every turn and corner revealed new and breathtaking aspects. We are yet to see anything quiet like this before. It looks especially beautiful from the outside while the interiors too are spectacular,” they said, adding that they were disappointed at not being able to see the fountain show as they had to prepare for their shooting event.
“We are definitely coming here again. It is impossible to cover the entire temple in one visit. The really impressive part of the temple is that it was built in such a short period of time of five years,” the delighted athletes said, their hands loaded with bags filled with temple souvenirs.
The souvenir shop at the temple sells devotional books, CDs, recordings, statues and pictures. However, visitors are not permitted to take pictures at the temple. Pictures can be clicked outside the temple premises. An authorised photographer of the temple can click pictures of people at certain designated spots and these can be framed at a cost of Rs.180.