A journey of wonder, awe and connection

14 Aug 2020

Rising from arid and desolate desert landscape in Abu Dhabi is the BAPS Hindu Mandir, enclosed with an area that reflects both the spiritual and physical journey of life.

BAPS Hindu Mandir is the first Hindu temple in the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi. RSP was tasked with the challenge of coming up with a design that enhances and complements the temple which has been sculpted by expert stone carvers. In addition to being a place of worship, it will also serve as accommodation for the monks, gathering node for celebrations as well as for non-Hindus to learn more about the religion equipped with classrooms, exhibition spaces, event halls, etc.  

The design of the Hindu temple complex made used of the influence of a local revitalising haven -the oasis, to emulate the temple’s purpose as a safe and nourishing haven for the soul. It would reflect the same experience that a lost nomad would go through when encountering an oasis in the middle of a desolate desert.

A monolithic dune formation likened to the physical nature of traditional Hindu temple was adopted for the complex, harmomising the architectural language between the desert environment and traditional Hindu culture.

As visitors approach the complex, the guiding flow of the three water bodies, representing the three main holy rivers of India, lead them into the courtyard within that is protected by the monumental volumes of the stone blocks.  

Encircling the temple in the heart of the plot is the stepwell. In ancient times, people from all walks of life in India would gather at the stepwell of the river brought forth by the need of water for scared ceremonies. The stepwell becomes a catalyst for social cohesion.

To further reinforce the importance of the temple in connecting with and bringing people together is the amphitheatre with massive stone seating ascending above the step well. It allows people to experience a new perspective by viewing the temple from an elevated height through the raised amphitheatre. It creates a natural centrifugal force for people to gather, providing character and anchor for the community.

From the big picture to small details, the temple physical construct pushes the sensual and spiritual experience that one goes through in the complex towards a journey of enlightenment