The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple(Mandir) in Bartlett, IL is a Hindu temple located about 50 minutes west of Chicago. The American Institute of Architects selected BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple,Bartlett as one of the 150 Great Places in Illinois. The temple was designed according to ancient Hindu texts on temple design known as the Shilpa Shastras. Turkish limestone and Italian marble was shipped to India and hand carved for the construction of the temple. The stones were shipped to Chicago and assembled like a giant three dimensional jigsaw puzzle. It took 16 months to construct, and was inaugurated on August 8, 2004. (source: Wikipedia) You can find more information about the temple construction here: http://chicago.baps.org/Mandir/MandirConstruction.htm
Next to the temple is the Shri Swaminarayan Haveli which serves as, a cultural center. The haveli was designed using traditional Indian Haveli architecture – an architectural style fashioned from wood, involving intricate carving. No photography is allowed inside the haveli. There is an underground walkway connecting the temple with the haveli.
We arrived at around 6:00 pm on a Sunday in June. I was little disappointed when I saw the steeple (‘shikhara’) of the temple structure covered with scaffolds. We parked in the back and walked through the building structure (haveli). We stopped at the awesome vegetarian restaurant and ordered samosa chaat, puffs and lassi. Everything was great! Ok enough about food.
After finishing our early dinner, we walked into the foyer of the haveli which is a richly hand-carved ‘indoor courtyard’ with soaring wooden columns and panels. The courtyard is covered with a glass roof that allows plenty of light. The wood carvings are quite intricate and beautiful! Unfortunately photography inside any of the building is prohibited. The architecture reminded my wife and I of our visit to Jaisalmer, Rajasthan in India.
After appreciating the haveli, we walked over to the temple structure and around the grounds. The marble carvings in the temple are exceptional! When I first came across the temple, I got goosebumps. I was transported back to the time I visited the Jain temples (Ranakpur and Dilwara) in Rajasthan, India. I was just amazed by the craftsmanship and the logistics that must have gone into building this beautiful temple. We then walked around the grounds to appreciate the water features around the complex and the arches near entrance. If you’re lucky you may come across a couple of peacocks roaming the grounds.
- Since I was there during golden(magic) hour, it was a challenge getting my shadow out of my shots.
- Make sure you visit when you’re able to visit the temple.
- Free guided tours are available. (http://chicago.baps.org/BookVisit/visitinfo1.html)
- Awesome vegetarian restaurant.
Parking: Plenty of parking available in the temple complex, behind the temple.
Restrictions: No photography inside any of the building. You will need to take your shoes off in sacred areas of the temple complex.
Dress code and additional guidelines can be found on this page: http://chicago.baps.org/InfoGallery/InfoGallery.htm