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BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple in Good ol' Lilburn, GA

eebee's picture

Alright now, this is the best reason to sign up for the full 87 mile distance A2A 2009 as soon as they post the date and registration forms. Don't sign up for the 38, because you'll miss this sight (and don't sign up for the 52, because it's too painless). 

At about mile 64 on this year's 87 mile A2A as our raggedy pack filtered through the fast downhill red-light (thanks Gwinnett Police!) onto Rockbridge Road in Lilburn, and turned almost immediately right onto John Carroll Road, we were thrilled to see Atlanta Peachtree Roadroller's Renee and Greg (?), water bottles in hand walking towards us. We would not have stopped at this particular intersection had it not been for the much needed water and kind gesture from these volunteers. 

Mid-chug I turned around to talk to Roadskater behind me, who was blurting out "Hey do you know what that big sandcastle is over there?!", pointing in the direction of Hwy 29. Annoyed and feeling like crap, I was thinking I couldn't be bothered to expend my precious energy looking for something as silly as a gigantic sandcastle. I tried to avoid the issue but then somebody else in our pack said 'Wow, what the heck is that?!". 

Partially-concealed by boring square buildings on the other side of the road was indeed what looked to me like a life-sized bouncy castle, as in the ugly inflatable things kids jump on at parties. I announced "Oh well it's some sort of bouncy castle". All of our brains must've been three-quarters frazzled at that stage of the journey, because we all just fell silent and got back on the road as if we'd been collectively hallucinating the whole view. I had forgotten all about it until Roadskater came to town last week. 

Whenever we were out in the car he'd ask excitedly "Can we go see if that huge sandcastle is still there?", to which I'd reply "Oh it probably won't be there any more, and it's not really on the way where we're going", blah blah boring boring. 

On Sunday night, however, that section of the A2A course was on our way back from the World of Coke, so we drove in the general direction of where we assumed the mystery object should have stood. Driving down Hwy 29 we approached Rockbridge Road and gasped as the glow from the bright blue illuminated giant bouncy castle spilled over us. My son and his friend both agreed it was that Hindu Temple they had heard about at school. 

The Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) mandir (Temple), is a breathtaking sight!! Not the sort of thing you expect to see round the corner from the Big Lots and next door to Walgreens.

My mind started racing - who else along the A2A course noticed this building? Did the 'fast' people get to see it (Skatey-Mark, Danny, Johnny)? As slow as I was, I never would have seen it if we hadn't stopped. 

Here's an informative paragraph from http://www.architechmag.com

"The finished project features 34,000 carved pieces, 86 decorative ceilings, five shikhars (pinnacles), 116 torans (archways), and 391 pillars. Stone is a primary construction material used in the project: Materials include 4,500 tons of Turkish limestone (exterior), 3,065 tons of Indian pink sandstone (ground floor), and 4,140 tons of Italian Carrara marble (intricately carved on the first floor), contributing to more than 117,000 cubic feet of natural stone used. Some 1,500 craftsmen, working at 26 different sites in India, took 17 months to finish the stone work."


The article is worth the read and the temple is worth a visit. I hope to go back soon with a fresh, non-A2A brain. 



roadskater's picture

An Oasis in the Rectangular Desert

Ahh, yes! I recall we stopped in that grass triangle north of John Carroll Rd because of me and my need to stretch out some crampy legs. Then Renee and a banana appeared and the surroundings blurred like some camera-like digitally generated focus trick where only the salesperson and the cel phone they are selling are clear in a tv commercial or geekdream. As I peeled the banana I scanned the horizon of boxes to see something so out of place as to cause perspective shift in my mind. I suddenly thought there must be one incredible beach party sandcastle record-breaking attempt going on, or a pack of burgundy and yellow clad monks must be building something to tear down later, or there was some projection trick and this was not a building but an image projected on the hugest scrim I had ever seen. The other night when we went to see it, I was even more impressed. The parking lot was packed! The 30 acre wonderland seemed to be filled with either buildings or parked cars! I checked maps.google.com and maps.live.com for satellite photos and they're pretty cool. The google images show the basement layer being built, apparently, but as often seems the case, the maps.live.com are a bit more up to date. These and the bird's eye view images show a large crane system of sorts (or so I assume), on two rails alternately in front of and behind and running along the entire width of the temple. It's pretty amazing stuff recording a snapshot of when the temple was being built. http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCP&cp=33.885366~-84.16208... earlier bird's eye view... http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCP&cp=pndt2c7zkw2b&style=... later bird's eye view... http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCP&cp=pndvqs7zkw93&style=... With this many people from India, though, what we've been wondering for five years is why can we not find awesome Indian food closer to this area. The best we know is in Athens and Atlanta. Hopefully, having the temple there will inspire some great restaurants nearby. But I imagine if the temple was so full Sunday night at 8pm or so, this temple may include facilities for serving incredible food for incredible events in an incredible atmosphere. I can't imagine it being otherwise. Comparing the actual temple to the Walgreen's nearby, it is not really as large when measured as it is in my mind, perhaps, but it is impressive nonetheless. There's something being built behind the temple which seems at this point mostly underground foundation, and it will be interesting to see what that turns out to be. One other note. We didn't go in, but did notice a sign on the gate stipulating "NO PHOTOGRAPHY." This is at the same time understandable and frustrating. I wonder if this is all the time or if it is possible they would allow photographs by appointment. I'd be happy to make such an appointment, I can tell you. I am in awe of this achievement. Thanks for writing about it, eebee.

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