Our Visit to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

I had never heard of this temple until about three weeks ago when my sister mentioned it to me. The moment she showed me the pictures of the temple, I immediately set my mind to visit the place. So my family and I went on a Saturday afternoon. There are no parking or entrance fees. And there’s nothing that makes my family more pleasing than that :D. Yeah, free is good, right!?

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The temple is located in Chino Hills, Ca. When we arrived, we went in for registration inside the Visitor’s Center. It’s their policy that all visitors mush register. Even inside the Visitor’s Center, we were awestruck by the attention seeking details of the carvings on woods that made up the interior. Since I went as a group, the registrar told me only one person needed to sign in. So I did. He also told me that ‘mandir’ meant temple.  I tried to say ‘mandir’ for multiple times, and after seeing my struggles, he stopped trying to correct me. I mean the word looked so simple, and in my head it sounded right, but I guess it came out different. Anyway, that always happens to me with my English. Aah, I need help with my English!!

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So there are some rules before entering the temple. Important rules are no shoes, no shorts, no cameras, and no big backpacks. The temple consists of two levels. The ground level is an exhibition, which can be entered through the elevator from the top level. And the top level is where everything is marble and each pieces were hand carved and imported from Italy. Whereas the outside stone pieces were also hand carved yet imported from India.

I don’t have pictures of the inside, but you can imagine this beautiful carving marble from floor to ceiling with several wooden doors positioned within all four walls. Since the marble is gray, it sort of creates this feeling of being in a cold decorated chamber. Also,  behind those doors are images of God that we didn’t get to see because there are only certain times that those door are open. And that certain timeframe/opportunity to see the images of God is called ‘darshan’.

Inside the exhibition, there are some pictures and paintings showing histories and background stories of the temple and of India and its people. The one thing that captivated my attention the most was this sculpture of a person chiseling herself out of a large piece of stone. And above it, written a quote “You are the stone. You are the chisel. You are the maker of your own happiness.” I know we see similar quotes everywhere regarding self-made happiness or success. But seeing the sculpture along with the quote just adds a more intense spark and imprint in my heart.

A beautiful bottom-up view of the templeIMG_4814

And I was also excited to try Khaman Dhokla, which I saw in “3 Idiots,” one of my favorite favorite movies of all time. All I can explain is that it’s this yellow looking cake, very soft and airy, soaked in mild spicy savory sauce, and garnished with some cilantro and slices of jalapeño. Do I like it? Well, I really like the texture of it.  However, I would love it more if it’s sweeter and not soaked in any sauce.

Overall, it was a nice short visit! I will definitely check out the temple in other locations that they have if I happen to be near any of those locations.

And Until next time:).

Thank you! ❤

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