Built from thousands of pre-carved pieces of stone by hand in India, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta is the largest Hindu temple in the U.S., and indeed the largest temple of its kind outside of India.
Opened in August of 2007, the majestic Atlanta mandir (temple or Hindu place of worship) is actually part of a network of traditional Hindu temples built across the world. The stones used in the making of these temples were carved in India, and simply shipped off to be put together on site like a giant Lego set. The mandir is built out of over 34,000 individual pieces of Italian Carrara marble, Turkish limestone, and Indian pink sandstone. Before being sent to the states, artisans etched surreal intricate designs, reliefs, and statues into the rock, so it was ready to go by the time it made it to American shores. Even more surprisingly, the temple was put together using a workforce of volunteers who donated over a million cumulative man hours.
Once completed the mandir now contains five tall pinnacles, 86 decorative ceilings, 116 archways, and 340 columns. The tallest of the pinnacles reaches an impressive 75 feet into the air, making it stand out majestically on its 30 acres.
In addition to all of its other size-related superlatives, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta, which is actually located in a city near Atlanta known as Lilburn, is the tallest structure in the city. The temple is open to the public for both worship and architectural appreciation.
Know Before You Go
Take I-85 North. Take exit 99 (Jimmy Carter Blvd). Turn right off the exit onto Jimmy Carter Blvd. Go straight for about 2 miles. Turn left onto Rockbridge Road. Go about 1.5 miles. Mandir is on the Left. For ease of reference, it's across the street from a Publix and behind a Walgreen's Pharmacy. Please note that photography is only allowed on the ground level, outside. You will be asked to remove your shoes as you enter (you may leave your socks) and no photography is allowed inside the mandir. There is a dress code for all visitors: both men and women must have knees and shoulders covered; anyone who doesn't is likely to be provided with a wrap to cover up from the mandir's roaming volunteer corps. The best time to go and see are from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm. There is also a prayer ceremony know as Arti at 11:15 am daily and is open to public. Mandir provides guided tour to group of 10 or more with advanced reservation. Alternatively, the audio guide is available in multiple languages.