Guide to Gwinnett
Know Before You Go: BAPS Mandir
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta was completed in 2007, and it's quite the site to see. This Mandir (temple) was built from more than 34,000 hand-carved stone pieces, and all the man power to construct this massive place of worship came from volunteers.
Visiting the Mandir is an activity I recommend to every Gwinnett County visitor (and resident!). Being inside this beautiful structure evokes a sense of peace. It's fascinating. Before you go, there are a few important things you should take note of.
1. The Mandir is open to all. Anyone is welcome in the Mandir, regardless of religious affiliation. You can come to marvel at the intricate stone, experience a few peaceful moments or learn more about Hinduism.
2. You can take a tour. When you arrive, stop in the Gift & Book Shop to grab an audio tour guide. It's just $5 per unit, and you'll learn about the story of how the Mandir was built, the significance of Hindu rituals, the meaning behind certain architectural designs and much more. Groups of 10 or more can also take a guided tour.
3. The Arti ceremony is performed daily at 11:15 a.m. The Arti ceremony is "an ancient Hindu offering made by waving lighted wicks before the sacred images to the accompaniment of a musical prayer. Many visitors have described the experience as awe-inspiring." There are separate seating arrangements for men and women, so please be sure to cooperate.
4. Some days you'll see shrines, some days, you won't. Inside the Mandir, you'll find a room full of shrines. Each shrine has it's own space with doors that open and close. Depending on what's going on at the time, you may or may not see these ornate murtis.
5. There's a gift shop and a restaurant. The gift shop is located on the main campus at the bottom of the stairs to the Mandir. As mentioned above, this is where you can get your audio tour. You can also purchase books, figurines, authentic Indian snacks and more.
The restaurant, BAPS Shayona, is located just inside the main gate. BAPS Shayona serves all-vegetarian meals, and is a great way to experience some traditional and authentic tastes of India.
6. A few photography rules. You can take photos at the ground level of the Mandir, but no photos or videos are allowed inside. Don't worry—there are signs that will let you know how far you can go for your perfect selfie.
7. There's a dress code. All clothing must cover your shoulders and knees. Volunteers at the Mandir will provide wraps if needed. Before entering the Mandir, you have to remove your shoes, so be sure to bring socks if you don't want to go barefoot.
I love visiting the Mandir, and I hope you will too.