Intricately carved pillars for the Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi are being readied in India, where more than 2,000 sculptors are working on the final designs.
The Baps Swaminarayan Sanstha, the organisation building the temple, has offered an early look at motifs and graceful figures moulded onto sandstone columns.
The ornate pieces will be assembled and shipped to the UAE by the end of March.
Detailed engravings show elephants holding aloft garlands surrounded by dancing peacocks, camels and men astride horses blowing conches – a large shell used as a wind instrument.
The sculptures with carvings of deities depict tales from ancient Hindu scriptures.
The carvings also capture dancers and musicians playing traditional instruments from the drums to flutes.
“With the support of the community and guidance from the leadership in India and the UAE, the work on the historic mandir [temple] is progressing,” said a temple spokesman.
He said the stone work has continued in India where artisans had carved 707 cubic metres of stone.
Swami Brahmavihari, the priest handling international relations at Baps, is in the UAE to oversee preparatory work on the site that will house the country’s first traditional Hindu temple in the Abu Mureikha area.
The final designs reveal water features circling the temple complex, a large amphitheatre that will overlook the shrine, two small water falls that flank the entrance steps, a library and community centre within the sprawling site.
“This mandir will be uniquely identified by its intricate mandovar [facade] which will share many traditional ... tales from throughout India as well as unique designs of the Gulf,” the spokesman said.
“That the mandir is moving forward at such a steady pace is itself a statement of the vision of the leaders of the UAE and India and of the local community’s commitment to making a lasting contribution to the country which has become their home and heart of success and growth.”
Priests involved in the planning and Pavan Kapoor, India’s ambassador to the UAE, met Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation last month to present an update on the temple.
Research teams earlier visited temples across India for design inspiration.
The temple that aims to be ready by 2022 will welcome people from all faith from across the world.
Similar to traditional temples in India, the structure will not use steel or iron reinforcements. The marble columns and sandstone structure will be fitted together in the UAE.
The Baps group has built temples using the same construction technique including the Akshardham in New Delhi.
The shrine has been held as an example of the peaceful coexistence in the Emirates, where people of all religions are free to practise their faiths.
For the upcoming Diwali or Hindu festival of lights celebrations, the temple group has asked worshippers to participate in festivities online.
Details of the activities for Diwali such as food offerings, community competitions are available at www.mandir.ae/diwali