The Bahá'í House of Worship in Delhi, India, popularly known as the Lotus Temple due to its flowerlike shape, is a Bahá'í 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. It has won numerous architectural awards and been featured in hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.
As with all other Bahá'í House of Worship, the Lotus Temple is open to all regardless of religion, or any other distinction, as emphasized in Bahá'í texts. The Bahá'í laws emphasize that the spirit of the House of Worship be that it is a gathering place where people of all religions may worship God without denominational restrictions. The Bahá'í laws also stipulate that only the holy scriptures of the Bahá'í Faith and other religions can be read or chanted inside in any language; while readings and prayers can be set to music by choirs, no musical instruments can be played inside. Furthermore no sermons can be delivered, and there can be no ritualistic ceremonies practiced.
All Bahá'í Houses of Worship, including the Lotus Temple, share certain architectural elements, some of which are specified by Bahá'í scripture. Abdu’l-Baha, the son of the founder of the religion, stipulated that an essential architectural character of a House of Worship be that it requires to have a nine-sided circular shape. Inspired by the lotus flower, its design is composed of 27 free-standing marble clad "petals" arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. While all current Bahá'í Houses of Worship have a dome, they are not regarded as an essential part of their architecture. Bahá'í scripture also states that no pictures, statues or images be displayed within the House of Worship and no pulpits or altars be incorporated as an architectural feature (readers may stand behind simple portable lecture stands).The nine doors of the Lotus Temple open onto a central hall, capable of holding up to 2,500 people. The central hall is slightly more than 40 meters tall and its surface is made of white marble. The white marbles are from Penteli mountain in Greece, the very same from which many of the ancient monuments were built and also many other Bahai temples.The House of Worship, along with the nine surrounding ponds and the gardens around comprise 26 acres (105,000 m²; 10.5 ha).
The site is in the village of Bahapur, in the National Capital Territory of Delhi. The architect was an Iranian, who now lives in Canada, named Fariborz Sahba. He was approached in 1976 to design it, later oversaw its construction and saved money from the construction budget to build a greenhouse to study which indigenous plants and flowers would be appropriate for the site. The major part of the funds needed to buy this land was donated by Ardishír Rustampúr of Hyderabad, who gave his entire life savings for this purpose in 1953.
Since its inauguration to public worship in December 1986, the Bahá'í House of Worship in Delhi has, as of late 2002, attracted more than 50 million visitors, making it one of the most visited buildings in the world. Its numbers of visitors during those years surpassed those of the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal. On Hindu holy days, it has drawn as many as 150,000 people; it welcomes four million visitors each year (about 13,000 every day or 9 every minute).
This House of Worship is generally referred to as the "Lotus Temple". In India, during the Hindu festival Durga Puja, several times a replica of the Lotus Temple has been made as a pandal, a temporary structure set up to venerate the goddess Durga. In Sikkim a permanent replica is of the Hindu Legship Mandir, dedicated to Shiva.
The Temple has received wide range of attention in professional architectural, fine art, religious, governmental and other venues.
As of 2003 it had been featured in television programmes in India, Russia and China. The Baha'i World Centre Library has archived more than 500 publications which have carried information on the Temple in the form of articles, interviews with the Architect and write-ups extolling the structure.
- In France, the magazine "Actualite des Religions" published a four-page article on the Lotus Temple in the fall of 2000 in a special edition called "Les religions et leurs chef-d'œuvres" (Religions and Their Masterpieces).
- Guinness World Records 2001
- Architecture (magazine ) Sept. 1987
- Lighting Desing+Application Vol 19, No. 6, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America "Taj Mahal of the Twentieth Century"
- Wallpaper*October 2002
- Progressive Architecture, February and again December 1987
- World Architecture: A Critical Mosaic 1900-2000, Vol 8, by Kenneth Frampton, Springer-Verlog Wien publishers, New York - "A power icon of great beauty ... an import symbol of the city."
- Faith & Form - Journal of the IFRAA affiliate of the American Institute of Architects, Vol XXI "an extraordinary feat of design, construction and appropriateness of expressions"
- Structural Engineer, UK (annual) Dec. 1987
- Encyclopaedia Iranica 1989
· "the most visited building in the world, according to a CNN report"
· "the most visited building in India, surpassing even the Taj Mahal with some 4.5 million visitors a year “