It has just opened. A richly decorated Hindu temple in New Jersey

The largest Hindu temple in the US opened its doors to devotees last month. The richly decorated temple covers an area of 183 acres. There are as many as 10,000 sculptures and many shrines made of marble, sandstone and other ornate materials. However, the Hindu community’s project has not escaped controversy. A 17-year-old boy was killed at the construction site.

The state of New Jersey is currently home to the largest number of followers of Hinduism (Vishnuism) in the USA. That is why it is in Robbinsville, NJ, that the Hindu community of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) has built its largest temple – a mandir. The word ‘community’ for this project is particularly relevant, as the facility was built primarily by 12,500 volunteers.

The architecture of the entire complex is stunning at every turn. More than 54,000m3 of stone were used in the construction. Marbles, sandstone, granite and limestone were imported from Bulgaria, China, Italy, India and Turkey. All elements of the temple were built on the model of the traditional sacred architecture of Vishnuism. The temple has a main altar and 12 minor altars. The altars contain images of various deities of India. Almost every element at the site is richly carved, including the altars, fountains and monuments.

The main Hindu temple is topped by a large dome, making the building reach a height of 58 metres. The building is equipped with underfloor heating, which is located at a point under the dome. Such amenities and the momentum of the entire project have pushed the price of the temple to $96 million.

The religious complex was built on the site of a former soybean plantation. The site is waterlogged, which made construction difficult. Interestingly, BAPS wanted the temple not to pollute the environment. Therefore, a multitude of solar panels were set up next to the complex, generating almost 1 gigawatt of power per day.

The construction of the temple was supposed to be ethical towards the environment, but as reported in the media, the ethics lacked towards human life. BAPS brought in workers from India on a work visa. They were mainly young men and boys from the lowest social caste – dalit. The community paid the workers $1.20 per hour, well below the minimum wage in NJ – $12.50/hr. In addition, the workers’ passports were taken from them and the quarters they were to sleep in were containers. Poor working conditions led to the death of a 17-year-old worker who fell from a scaffold.

The class action lawsuit has been suspended for the time being, as the temple has not yet started to function properly. The workers who are suing have agreed to reopen the case only after the temple in Robbinsville has begun full-fledged operations. A BAPS spokesperson explains that the culture of voluntary work (seva) stems from religious values.

Despite the controversy, BAPS is not stopping in building more places of worship. In total, the community has already built more than 100 temples in the USA. The one in Robbisnville is their largest and most magnificent. However, the beautiful decorations and large domes have been paid for with abuses. It is therefore worth following further developments in the coming months.

photos: BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham(

source: BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, Architectual Digest

Also read: United States | Sacred architecture | Interesting facts | History | Marble | whiteMAD on Instagram |

Latest content on the site

Beauty is all around you