In a city brimming with eye-popping architecture, Delhi’s Lotus Temple – also known as the Bahai House of Worship – manages to stand out. In fact, we even named it one of the Top 50 Most Beautiful Buildings in the World. Built in 1986, the lotus-shaped temple was designed to bring all faiths together and it’s now widely recognized as one of the great masterpieces of the 20th century. Interested in finding out more about this architectural marvel? Take a look at these interesting facts about the Lotus Temple.
Interesting facts about the Lotus Temple in New Delhi
1. It’s a Baha’i House of Worship
The Lotus Temple is one of just seven Baha’i Houses of Worship around the world. The other six are located in Sydney (Australia), Panama City (Panama), Apia (West Samoa), Kampala (Uganda), Frankfurt (Germany), and Willamette (USA). The Baha’í faith is a relatively new religion that stems from the Shi’ite branch of Islam. India has one of the world’s largest Baha’i populations, accounting for 40% of the religion’s six million followers.
2. The lotus shape is important
The Lotus Temple is shaped like a lotus flower for good reason. Architect Fariborz Sabha selected the flower because it is not associated with any particular religious sect or community. However, it does feature prominently across India.
Generally speaking, temples of the Bahá’í Faith are renowned for their architectural splendour. According to Bahai scripture, structures should have nine sides. While the temple looks like it is made from 27 delicate-looking petals, these are actually grouped into clusters of three to create a structure made with nine sides. Each free-standing cluster of petals features a door (nine in total) opening into the central hall reaching 40 metres high.
3. It features a lot of special marble
Building the shimmering temple required more than 10,000 different sizes of marble. The temple’s surface is made with Pentelikon marble from Greece – the same marble used for ancient monuments such as the Parthenon.
4. The Lotus Temple is extremely popular
Over 10,000 people visit the Lotus Temple every day and more than four million people visit every year. Around 2,500 people can fit inside the temple at any one time.
5. It took a long time to build the Lotus Temple
It took Fariborz Sabha 10 years to design and build the structure. Ardeshir Rustampur of Hyderabad donated his life savings to purchase the land on which the temple stands in 1952. It wasn’t until 1976 that authorities approached Sahba to design the landmark. British-based Flint and Neil handled the structural design, while ECC Construction Group managed the construction. It took a team of more than 800 engineers, technicians and workers to complete the project. There was even onsite daycare to look after the worker’s children.
6. It’s more sustainable than it appears
The Lotus Temple is one of the first temples in Delhi to use solar power. Its total electric use is 500 kW and solar power provides 120 kW to this figure.
The worship space is also capped with a glass and steel skylight. This helps to make the building sustainable as it lets in plenty of natural light.
7. You can explore the whole temple
The Lotus Temple sits on 26.5 acres (107,241 sq. metres) of land. It consists of the House of Worship (which also houses the library, conference hall and administrative building), the Information Centre and the Education Centre.