HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall visited Swaminarayan Akshardham, New Delhi, India, on the afternoon of Friday, November 8, 2013.
Prince Charles was greeted with a garland of flowers, a chandlo (vermillion powder) and the tying of the sacred kalva (sacred thread) by Atmaswarup Swami (Head Sadhu) on behalf of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj – the inspirer & creator of Swaminarayan Akshardham and Spiritual Head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, was also greeted in a traditional Indian manner with the auspicious marks of welcome and goodwill by Rohini Patel, lead volunteer of BAPS Women’s Forum.
The Chairman of Swaminarayan Mandir in London, Jitu Patel, Trustees of Swaminarayan Akshardham and other leading volunteers of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha welcomed the royal couple upon arrival.
After admiring the Mayur Dwar (Peacock Gate), the royal couple made their way to the Swaminarayan Akshardham Mandir where they admired the world’s ‘Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple’. Captivated by the intricate hand carvings, Prince Charles said, “I am amazed at your outstanding achievement. I don’t remember seeing anything like this in the world! I promote revival of art and heritage and this (Swaminarayan Akshardham) is perhaps one of the most exceptional examples.” The Duchess of Cornwall also said, “This is an architectural marvel. I cannot believe how intricate the carvings are. How did you create all of this in five years?”
After offering respects by placing flowers at the sacred shrine and viewing the mandir’s architecture, the royal couple visited the Gajendra Pithika (Elephant Plinth) that includes 148 life-sized carved stone elephants depicting message of social harmony, peace and spirituality. Moved by its messages, the Prince said, “The effort you have put into immortalizing them in stone is incredible. What adds value to this place is that you also provide moral, social and spiritual counseling to all the pilgrims and visitors who come here”
Commenting on the 11,000 volunteers who helped create Akshardham, Prince Charles expressed “Where can you get such dedication? His Holiness’s (Pramukh Swami Maharaj) purity and goodness and the selfless spirit of the organization (BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha) can truly inspire such creations of inspiration. I missed His Holiness today. He is truly a deeply spiritual soul, a great leader.”