The Bahai House of Worship in Delhi, India, popularly known as the Lotus Temple due to its flowerlike shape, is a Bahai House of Worship and also a prominent attraction in Delhi. It was completed in 1986 and serves as the Mother Temple of the Indian subcontinent
The temple gives the impression of a half-open lotus flower, afloat, surrounded by its leaves. Each component of the temple is repeated nine times. The temple is open to people of all faiths, languages and cultures. It is a symbol of a United India.
The construction of the Lotus temple began in stages. The chief architect, an Iranian-Canadian named Fariborz Sahba, began designing the Temple in 1976. The construction of the temple was completed in 1986.
The Lotus temple reaches a height of more than 40m. One can see 27 giant white petals of marble in a lotus shape, springing from nine pools and walkways indicative of the nine unifying spiritual paths of the Bahai’s faith. The temple complex consists of the main house of worship; the ancillary block which houses the reception centre, the library and the administrative building; and the restrooms block.
All around the lotus are walkways with beautiful curved balustrades, bridges and stairs, which surround the nine pools representing the floating leaves of the lotus. Apart from serving an obvious aesthetic function, the pools also help ventilate the building.
The lotus, as seen from outside, has three sets of leaves or petals, all of which are made out of thin concrete shells. The outermost set of nine petals, called the ‘entrance leaves’, open outwards and form the nine entrances all around the outer annular hall. The next set of nine petals, called the ‘outer leaves’, point inwards. The entrance and outer leaves together cover the outer hall. The third set of nine petals, called the ‘inner leaves’, appears to be partly closed. Only the tips open out, somewhat like a partly opened bud. This portion, which rises above the rest, forms the main structure housing the central hall. Near the top where the leaves separate out, nine radial beams provide the necessary lateral support. Since the lotus is open at the top, a glass and steel roof made out of metal fabrication at the level of the radial beams provides protection from rain and facilitates the entry of natural light into the auditorium.
Below the entrance leaves and outer leaves, nine massive arches rise in a ring. A row of steps through each arch lead into the main hall The inner leaves enclose the interior dome in a canopy made of crisscrossing ribs and shells of intricate pattern. When viewed from inside, each layer of ribs and shells disappear as it rises, behind the next, lower layer. Some of the ribs converge radially and meet at a central hub. The radial beams emanating from the inner leaves described earlier meet at the centre of the building and rest on this hub. A neoprene pad is provided between the radial beams and the top of the interior dome to allow lateral movement caused by the effects of temperature changes and wind.
The nine doors of the Lotus Temple open onto a central hall, capable of holding up to 2,500 people. The House of Worship, along with the nine surrounding ponds and the gardens around comprise 26 acres area.
The outer surface of the shells, as also the inner surface of the arches, are cladded with white marble panels fixed to the concrete surface with specially designed stainless steel brackets and anchors. 10,000 sq.m. of marble was quarried from the Mount Pentilekon mines of Greece and thereafter sent to Italy, where each panel was cut to the required size and shape to suit the geometry and architectural pattern before transporting them to the site in Delhi.
The reinforcement used was entirely galvanized steel to avoid the long term negative effects of iron rusting. A Concrete mix design of M30 concrete has been used.
For more information, please check out the official Lotus Temple website.