Among the temples in Georgia, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta has evolved into one of the best tourist places to visit in Georgia. Located in Gwinnett County, Lilburn, the temple for the Atlanta Indian community has also brought the surrounding area alive with commercial activities. It has made the local authorities in Lilburn think of plans for further development of the area around the temple.
A whopping 1.8 million devotees have visited the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta since its inauguration on august 26 in 2007. The Lilburn Community Improvement Committee finds the temple’s growing popularity with Indians in Georgia an unavoidable reason to improve the existing civic facilities like pedestrian access and retail market, and develop a few new ones for the convenience of visitors.
Located at the crossing of Lawrenceville Highway and Rockbridge Road in Gwinnett County, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is one of the largest Hindu temples in USA. Thousands of devotees visit the temple to celebrate major Indian festivals and events like Diwali and Dussehra. Public tours of the temple and its surrounding are available throughout the year. The activities centering the temple have changed the face of Lilburn and led to community development in the region commercially.
About 10% of the total residents of Lilburn are Indian Americans, according to the US Census Bureau. The landscape of Lilburn has come alive not only economically but also culturally for the Indian community and others. The surrounding area of the temple is dotted with retail shopping centers. But there is neither classy restaurant nor urbane resting place for well-to-do visitors from Atlanta and the rest of USA.
The Lilburn Community Improvement Committee is eyeing on the next-level development around the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta for the comfort of affluent visitors. The development plans also include beautification projects. Currently a survey is underway to decide on what retail stores will add to the economic index of the area and identify feasible ways to improve guest housing there.
There are many interesting facts about the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Atlanta. Three different types of stone – Indian pink sandstone, Turkish limestone and Italian marble – were imported for construction of the temple, which took 17 months. About 34,000 hand-carved pieces of stone from India and 106,000 cubic tons of Italian marble from Europe were assembled using a specialty crane in Lilburn. The inauguration by Pramukh Swami Maharaj was a spectacular ceremony.
Spread over a 30-acre plot, the temple complex consists of a sprawling assembly hall, a family activity center, an exhibition hall and classrooms. As many as 900 volunteers including Indians in Atlanta helped with the construction which is said to last 1000 years. The temple has 6 pinnacles, 116 archways, 340 pillars and 86 decorative ceilings.
Today is the 9th anniversary of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple in Atlanta.
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