Construction work on a serene and modern Hindu temple is being completed at a rapid pace in Dubai.
The frame of the main spires, an eye-catching skylight and a large prayer hall are taking shape in the contemporary marble and stone shrine in the city's Jebel Ali district.
Trustees confirmed the temple would be open for worship in October next year for the Hindu festival of Dussehra, which will be followed by Diwali, the Festival of Lights in November.
“The structure is up and is 52 per cent ready,” Raju Shroff, a trustee of the Sindhi Guru Darbar temple that oversees the construction work, told The National during an exclusive on-site tour.
“Once it is complete, you will have visibility from Sheikh Zayed Road. The pure brass kalash [apex of the spire] will shine in the sun. It will stand out like a landmark building.”
This is the second of two Hindu temples being built in the UAE.
A traditionally carved shrine is being built in Abu Dhabi that will be the largest when completed in 2023.
The Dubai temple will have capacity for about 1,500 worshippers when it opens next year.
More than 100 workers are busy plastering and finishing brick work in community areas on the ground floor and the main prayer hall on the upper level.
A 5,000-square-feet prayer area is being readied for 15 white and black marble hand sculpted figures of Hindu deities that will arrive later this year from India.
A sculpture of the Hindu deity Shiva will be placed in the central space.
Stone work is being completed with attention paid to each space that will hold major Hindu deities such as Hanuman and Ganesh.
Space is being carved out for a section that will hold the Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib.
The frame of a giant skylight is being prepared for two dozen large decorative bells that will be suspended in the middle of the prayer hall.
An open terrace surrounds the prayer zone with dedicated sections for rituals.
Anticipation is mounting as organisers, designers and architects visualise the space.
“The prayer hall will have a serene look with natural sunlight streaming in. It will have earthy colours and background music, mantras will play,” Mr Shroff said.
“Whenever I go there, I already get the sense of radiance and peace. It will be a place you can chant and meditate.”
On the floor below, workers stack equipment and poles as they build the interior of rooms to serve as banquet halls, kitchen, meditation, teaching rooms and sections designated for wedding and birth ceremonies.
Painting is being completed in two basement car parks.
The estimated cost of the temple project is Dh60-65 million.
Community members have come forward to contribute each of the 15 deities being sculpted in Jaipur in north-west India and the southern city of Chennai.
“We are ahead of schedule because we have amazing people putting their heart and soul to make sure we are ahead of time and below budget,” Mr Shroff said.
“It’s a community project and a community cost.
“There have been so many volunteers who have come in with ideas and inputs. Everyone is excited about this project and people want to share their time.”
Most building material has been sourced locally.
“We have tried to focus on getting material and supplies from here to support local companies,” he said.
“We are a temple from Dubai and how you give back is the key.”
The temple shares a boundary wall with the Sikh gurdwara and is next to the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church.
Gopal Kookani, general manager of the Hindu temple in the Bur Dubai area, says the location in Jebel Ali symbolises the inclusive society the UAE seeks to promote.
“It’s a great honour for the expatriate communities that they have been given religious freedom,” he said.
“This will be an eye-catching and elegant temple and is a testimony to our gratitude to the Rulers.”