The latest rendering of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: BAPS Hindu Mandir

Abu Dhabi: Two years after the groundbreaking ceremony, the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi will witness a major construction milestone when first concrete pouring for its raft foundation will take place on Thursday.

An elaborate ceremony at the desert site in Abu Mureikha at Exit 366 of E11 Expressway will include prayers for the UAE, Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Sanstha (BAPS), which is building the temple, told Gulf News on Tuesday.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the temple took place during the UAE visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 11, 2018.

The raft foundation ceremony, ‘Mandir Aadhaarvedi Vidhi’, on February 13 will be performed by Swami Brahmaviharidas and Swami Akshaymunidas of BAPS in the presence of the Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor and Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul, the temple management said in a statement to Gulf News.

“Special prayers for the project and the UAE will be said. Senior government officials and prominent community leaders will also be attending,” it stated. The ceremony will take place from 5.30pm at the temple site.

Significance of the foundation

According to BAPS, the raft will be the first “footprint of the ultimate manifestation” of what the temple will look like.

“The concrete pour is actually the bottom raft of the foundation. But, it would fill the entire space of the bottom of the temple. So, when this raft is complete, you will indeed get to see the size and form of the temple.”

It said the temple’s foundation is both “historic and authentic.” “It is the first and the largest of its kind in the UAE - a high-volume fly ash concrete mix will make it an environment-friendly, green foundation. Combining ancient technology and modern instrumentation, the foundation raft will be an unreinforced, single pour of 3,000 cubic metres, with no ferrous material.”

Stones to arrive before Expo 2020

Following Thursday’s ceremony, visitors will be able to see the size and scale and the footprint of the temple, though not above ground.

“By the middle of this year, before Expo 2020, we hope to ship the first layers of the hand-carved stones from India which will showcase the beauty and divinity of the majestic Mandir for all to see,” said Swami Brahmaviharidas, the priest in-charge of the BAPS Middle East.

He said the concept plans and detailed drawings have been approved with efficiency and no stone has been left unturned to help the community by the UAE’s leadership.

“We, the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, have built temples in many countries across the world. But the love, support, and affection we have received in the UAE is incredible and ineffable. Tolerance here is not just a word or a value, but a verb in action.”

“We have felt it not just in the eyes of the leadership and the royal palaces, but also in the homes and hearts of every one we meet. No wonder the BAPS Hindu Mandir is destined to be an iconic spiritual oasis for global harmony,” he added.

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An aerial view of the Abu Dhabi Hindu temple site which is readying for the first concrete pouring for making its raft foundation on Thursday. Pic courtesy BAPS Hindu Mandir

Scientific data ratification

According to BAPS, this will be the first Hindu temple in the world to provide scientific data to ratify the ancient methods of stone construction.

The data will be passed on to Khalifa University to share with researchers around the world, it revealed.

Beyond the normal excavation process, what has also taken place so far at the temple site is special installations of lightning protection and other safety measures and special instrumentation.

“More than 300 remote sensors will be embedded at 10 different levels to measure pressure, stress, temperature and other parameters for processing online live active data of the foundation and the superstructure.”

After the raft foundation solidifies, the rest of the foundation features will be completed in stages.

Then the first hand-carved stones will begin to arrive and the temple will slowly start to take form layer by layer over the next months and years.

Dubbed an icon of tolerance and religious harmony in the UAE, the temple with seven towers representing seven emirates is being built on 13.5 acres (55,000 square metres) of land gifted by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

In the Year of Tolerance in 2019, the UAE government gifted an equal area of land additionally for building parking facilities in the temple premises.

The government also issued the first license for a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi for worship to facilitate all activities towards the making of the Mandir.

The complex that is estimated to cost Dh450m is being built with contributions from the Indian community.