The Swami Narayan Akshardham temple at Delhi is a magnificent structure. It is not only a temple. As the promoters of the temple proudly claims it 'epitomises 10,000 years of Indian culture in all its breathtaking grandeur, beauty, wisdom and bliss'.
But the visit to Akhshardham temple in Delhi to learn more about the rich history of India was a great disappointment.
The temple is one of the most security conscious structures in India. To enter the temple you need to surrender most of your belongings including your cell phone and camera and go through a time consuming security check stricter than US Airport. There is also a strict dress code for Women, which loudly proclaims shorts; short skirts and burqas are not allowed.
Short skirts and burqas both banned ?????? Why????? Women revealing too much of flesh may be offensive to some people but why dresses that do not reveal anything is banned?
The temple complex contains a large number of statues and sculptures of great beauty.
Bhagwan Swami Narayan's life story is the basis of most of the exhibitions including the Giant screen film and if you are not a Bhakth of the Bhagwan you may not be much impressed.
Soon I was undergoing the much awaited 12 minute boat ride termed Sanskruti Vihar 'to experience the 10000 years of India's glorious heritage'.
I thought the ride will start with the Indus Valley civilization as it the oldest known civilization of India. But I was surprised to realize that no mention was made of Harappa and Mohanjedaro in the show, which was supposed to be about India's history. Why?
The show starts with the Vedic period of Indian history and it tries to make people believe that it is 10000 years old. Most of the Historians are of the opinion that the Vedic period must have started from around 1500BC, i.e. only about 3500 years ago. Then how they got this measure of 10000 years?
I saw a large number of school students in uniform among the visitors to this Boat ride. Will they be mislead by this distorted history?
The show also claims many 'firsts' to the Indian Vedic civilization, including the birthplace of democracy, aircrafts, and Sea Trade.
Though the temple is a grand and beautiful structure, the visit for me at least was a big disappointment.