Baps Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors since opening

On average 30,000 people have visited each Sunday since its opening last month

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Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu temple has already welcomed hundreds of thousands of visitors since its opening, and is anticipates even more visitors for several festivals that will be celebrated this month.

When the Baps Hindu temple formally opened on February 14, people began queuing up almost immediately to enter the structure made from hand-carved stone and marble.

About 65,000 people turned out at the temple on the first Sunday, March 3, that the shrine opened its doors to the public weeks after its inauguration by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Now, 30,000 people on average visit the complex every Sunday with the weekend waiting time often stretching to one-and-a-half hours, temple authorities said.

I never ever thought I would see a classic temple like this outside of India
Dina Shah, a Sharjah resident

“It was beyond our expectations, a staggering 65,000 attendees came to the venue," a temple spokesman, told The National. "Yet, what truly captivated us wasn't just the sheer number, but the warmth and love that seemed to radiate from every corner, drawing everyone,” he said.

April festivals

April is a packed month in the Hindu calendar with celebrations around Hindu new year and for the spring festival welcomed with traditional prayers across Indian states.

Hindus are also expected to converge in large numbers to celebrate the Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti festivals – marking the birth of two Indian gods Rama and Hanuman later this month.

Elaborate carvings of both deities are an integral part of the Baps mandir.

The news of the hand-carved works that adorn the temple reached Dina Shah, who waited in queue for more than two hours recently to enter the marble and pink sandstone structure.

“I knew there would be a long wait so I came prepared with umbrellas for the family,” said Ms Shah, a Sharjah resident who plans to visit the temple for all festivals.

“It was amazing to see the detailed work and all the carvings from stories I have heard from the time I was a child.

“I never, ever thought I would see a classic temple like this outside of India.”

Watch: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi opens Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi

The patient crowds queued while listening to sacred prayers and chanting from the temple that can be heard on speakers as they wait.

Dozens of tourists also joined the line as buses pulled up with visitors from Nepal and Germany.

“The sculptures are incredible,” said Niels Meyer, an architect from Frankfurt. “I had read about the temple but never expected this sort of scale. This is a place I will come back to. I want to sit and absorb the peace in the evening.

“It’s just beautiful and puts you in a meditative space.”

All are welcome

To manage the weekend crowds, Abu Dhabi's transport authority last month introduced a new bus service, which takes visitors from the city bus station to the temple.

At the weekends, the existing bus route 201 has been replaced by 203 to cope with the Saturday-Sunday traffic to the temple.

Temple officials are bracing for higher numbers while maintaining a festive atmosphere for the festivals.

“To ensure that everyone enjoys a wonderful experience, we have increased the number of volunteers and enlisted the support of the local police,” the spokesman said.

“We collaborate closely with local authorities to manage the influx of visitors effectively. By working together, we ensure that the crowds are managed efficiently and that everyone can safely experience the mandir without overcrowding.

“During the weekdays, there is an efficient flow of visitors, however over the course of time we anticipate the queues to increase as more tourists begin to visit from abroad.”

An interfaith gathering was observed last week at the temple during Ramadan that drew UAE ministers, a vicar, rabbi and representatives from the Sikh community.

The cultural programme included discussions on faith and spirituality followed by the first suhoor at the temple.

The Baps Hindu mandir, located in the Abu Mureikha area, off Sheikh Zayed Road, is open to people of all faiths from 9am to 8pm from Tuesday to Sunday. The temple remains closed on Monday.

Updated: May 08, 2024, 11:43 AM