Shri Hari Mandir, night view
Amongst the temples in Saurashtra, Gujarat, Shri Hari Mandir is the labour of love that took eight years to complete. Shri Hari Mandir has been one of the most beautiful, though arduous, vision of Pujya Bhaishri, that was inspired by Pujya Krishnashankar Dadaji who on every visit to Sandipani would mention the need of a temple at Sandipani.
Held up by 66 pillars, measuring 105 feet and, capped by beautifully carved domes and being one of the largest temples in Gujarat, India, it is located between the two famous temples of Dwarka and Somnath. The temple is set amidst a sprawling garden, lush with the delicate smell of flowers.
At night, the interior glows, sending out a golden, warm, and welcoming invitation to all. The amazing details on the pillars would take years to examine in full. Inside the white marble cools the air, while at the same time accentuating the bright colours of the deities and art that adorns the open spaces. The exquisitely arranged offerings of vegetables, fruits and sweets are art in itself and give honour and beauty to the temple.
While the structure is a visual delight, the deities residing within are the personification of Pujya Bhaishri’s faith and devotion.
The deities residing in Shri Hari Mandir are: Shri Lakshmi Narayan Bhagavan, Shri Radha Krishna Bhagavan, Shri Janki Vallabh Bhagavan, Shri Chandramauleshwar Bhagavan, Shri Karunamayi Maa, Shri Ganesh Bhagavan, Shri Hanumanji and Shri Veda Bhagavan. Visit our Deities and Darshan page to read more.
In accordance with Pujya Bhaishri’s vision, the temple provides the Rishikumars of Sandipani practical training in performing rituals and for the Mandir to become an epicentre of culture and spirituality.
Planning and style of the temple
The planning of the temple was done by an expert team of advisors that consisted of:
- Omprakash ji Vyas (architect – Mumbai);
- Devendrabhai Sompura (architect – Jaipur);
- Atulbhai Rajpara (architect – Rajkot);
- Ashwinbhai Lodha (structural engineer – Rajkot).
According to the ancient Hindu Science of Arts and Crafts, there are various different styles of temple design (shaili), the three main styles being Dakshini (Southern style), Versara (Mixed style), and Nagara (Northern style). It was decided that Shri Hari Mandir should be built according to the Nagara shaili, similar to the famous temples of Dwarka and Somnath.
Pujya Krishnashankar Dadaji, Pujya Bhaishri and Pujya Muniji during the Shilanyas of Shri Hari Mandir in May 1998
Khat Muhurt (Ground-Breaking Ceremony)
The Khat Muhurt (ground-breaking ceremony) took place in early 1998. This is a ceremony to consecrate the land before beginning to build a temple. The foundation was dug and the ground was levelled.
On Thursday, 13 May 1998 (Hindu Calendar date: tithi – Vaiṣākh, Krishna paksha, dvitīya, samvat 2054), the sacred Shailanyās pooja (laying of the foundation stone) was performed on the site. During the Shailanyās pooja, a sacred pot was embedded in the foundations directly beneath the spot where the deities were to be installed.
A special ‘Mandir Sankul Shilanyās Samārambh’ event was organised at Sandipani Vidyaniketan in the presence of Pujya Dadaji Krishnashankar Shastriji. The gathering was also attended by Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Pujya Devprasad Bapu and Pujya Amardas Bapu Kharavala.
From left to right – Pujya Swamiji, Shri Tulsibhai Hathi, Pujya Devprasaddji Bapu, Pujya Bhaishri, Smt. Ratandevi and Shri Bajranglalji Taparia during the Shilanyas pujan of Shri Hari Mandir in May 1998
From left to right – Pujya Dr. Shivanand Adhvaryu, Pujya Amardas Bapu, Pujya Swamiji, Pujya Krishnashankar Dadaji, Pujya Bhaishri during the Shilanyas Samarambh of Shri Hari Mandir in May 1998
Foundation and Stonework
The temple was built in two separate sections and the foundation was made up of two different composites. The foundation of the ground below the sanctum sanctorum was made up of two types of stone: limestone from Porbandar and Dhangadhra Stone from the town of Dhangadhra in Gujarat. The carvers of Dhangadhra are also renowned in reputation. This Porbandar and Dhangadhra mixture was used to create a foundation of over 75,000 cubic feet in size.
As per the Hindu Science of Architecture instructions, no steel or concrete was used in the foundation below the sanctum sanctorum. Work on the foundation began soon after the laying of the foundation stone in May 1998.
All the raw stone used to make the temple itself came from Porbandar and was brought to Sandipani Vidyaniketan where all the carving was completed. The work lasted for almost three years and used, in total, over 300 Marwari workers in the construction of the temple.
The main steps leading up to the temple were redesigned in order to leave a large platform in the middle of the steps for two reasons: to give pilgrims a resting area from climbing 48 steps and use the platform as a stage for cultural shows and programmes in the future. The arches, gates and spires of the temple would provide a stunning vista.
In addition, two towers were added on either side of the main temple. One tower has a staircase to allow direct access from the ground floor auditorium to the main temple room. The other tower has a lift to enable the less able and the elderly access to the temple. Of all the temples of Saurashtra, this feature is unique to Shri Hari Mandir. The finishing of the temple was made up of a white cement and marble powder mix. This was applied all over the temple.
Rupa Kāma (Carving of the icons and figures on the temple)
Eight sculptors from Orissa did the detailed ‘rupa kāma’ (carving of icons and figures) on the walls, pillars and arches inside and outside the temple. Inside the temple, the pillars are adorned with sculpting of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiv, Maa Durga, and carvings of the child devotees Prahlad and Dhruva.