Exploring the Architectural Marvels of BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi: A Blend of Tradition and Innovation

Ananthu Syam

March 19, 2024

4 min read

Bhagwan Swaminarayan founded the Swaminarayan Sampradaya, one of the traditions in Hinduism, and his followers went on to the largest Hindu temple in the United Arab Emirates. According to the heritage division of the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority, the idea of the first traditional Hindu stone temple in the Middle East began 25 years ago and the mandir is now the largest in the region.

Getting There

The site is situated between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, or a 40 minute drive from Jebel Ali along Al Taf Road (E16), on land measuring 27 acres (11 hectares), gifted by the UAE government, in the Abu Mureika area of Abu Dhabi. It’s half an hour from Abu Dhabi mainland with no traffic.

Designing The BAPS hindu Mandir

The mandir was designed to symbolize inclusivity and mutual respect, its seven spires cut to represent each of the seven emirates. Just inside the entrance to the complex, two streams of water are visible, representing the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, two of Hinduism’s three most holy waters, which appear as a shaft of light at the temple’s plinth honoring the goddess of wisdom and music.


Also depicted in The Divine Eye are the rivers, represented in a whirlpool-like sculpture by the future-forward Indian studio, Apical Reform. Shaping the temple within a void, a pattern that’s based on the ancient Indian concept of the third eye as a spiritual window, the confluence of rivers also represents the endless potential of humanity.


Of the temple’s design, there are also 14 tales from ancient civilizations across the world, from the Arab world to China. This highlights the belief that while a religion can present itself in a particular form, as can a temple in its architecture, faith resonates with all humanity from a singular temple at the same time.


Building The Temple

While the United Arab Emirates is home to decades-old Hindu places of worship, the Baps Hindu Mandir is the first to be built using traditional materials in the same ways as some of India’s most historic temples, via interlocking blocks of stone. 


Its hand-carved stone comes from the Arasur quarry in the Indian state of Rajasthan, and it was assembled over four years by 2,000 sculptors in the building yard at the Kutch district. More than 13,000 architectural stones were hand-rendered to fit together without mortar or metal in the traditional Indian way.


More than 2,000 artisans in Rajasthan and Gujarat worked to hand-carve red sandstone and Italian marble blocks, which were then shipped and assembled on-site in the UAE. More than 20,000 tonnes of stone and marble — more than 700 containers shipped from approximately 5,000 kilometers away over three years — later, and not a stitch of reinforced steel or concrete used makes for a building dedicated to nature that stays nature-bound.


The main temple is 32.9 meters tall, 79.8 meters long, and 54.8 meters wide. Built for between 8,000 and 10,000 people, other buildings on the compound include prayer halls, a community center, a children’s park, an amphitheater and a library. There are 402 pillars carved in white marble, no two with the same design. 

Know Before You Go

Here are a few things to keep in mind:


  • The BAPS Mandir is open to visitors of all faiths and backgrounds. It is a place of peace and reflection, and all are welcome to come and learn about Hinduism.
  • There is a dress code in place for visitors to the Mandir. All clothing must cover your neck, the elbows, and the ankles.
  • Remove your shoes before entering the Mandir. 
  • Photography is not permitted inside the Mandir. 
  • Bags, food, and drinks are not allowed inside the Mandir. 

An Architectural Marvel

Etched into the smallest modules of this intricate masterpiece are patterns that have been plucked out of Indian scriptures and are iconic embodiments of deities and spiritual gurus. Even the brackets and the domes of the spires have been constructed using these designs. Before they got down to chiseling, the artisans would first sketch the designs on paper and then trace it on stone. To put just how laborious that this process is, it could take up to four artisans an entire year to complete just one of the many, many pillars featured here.

FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions

What architectural style does the BAPS Mandir follow?
The BAPS Mandir is a prime example of Shilpa Shastra and Vastu Shastra – ancient Hindu texts guiding temple architecture and design. It reflects a traditional style with modern influences.


What are some key architectural features?
Seven Shikhars representing the seven emirates of the UAE promoting unity, two Ghummats, The Dome of Harmony and the Dome of Peace symbolizing universal elements, intricate carvings depicting stories and deities, lotus motif and water features reflecting the three holy rivers of Hinduism, Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati.


What materials were used?
Pink sandstone from Rajasthan, India, was used for the main structure. Italian marble was used for the cladding of the facade for a luxurious look. Bamboo and fiberglass were used as an earthquake-resistant alternative to steel for reinforcements.

Are there any interesting construction techniques?
The main temple rests on a massive concrete base using UAE’s largest single pour. The temple follows the ancient methods, avoiding iron and steel. The temple is also designed to withstand tremors up to 7.0 on the Richter scale.


How big is the BAPS Mandir?
The temple has a sprawling complex occupying 27 acres of land with its main shikhara reaching 108 feet. The main temple itself measures 262 feet long and 180 feet wide.

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    2801, Mazata Business Avenue BB2,
    Plot No: JLTE-PH2-BB2,
    jumeirah Lakes Towers,
    Dubai, UAE


    2801, Mazata Business Avenue BB2,
    Plot No: JLTE-PH2-BB2,
    jumeirah Lakes Towers,
    Dubai, UAE

    Thrillark, Crafted with in Dubai

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