August 26, 2019
The proper name for this place of worship is BAPS Shri Swanimarayan Mandir. In researching this post I discovered there is a Hindu Temple with an identical name in Morrisville, NC, out near the Raleigh-Durham airport, and evidently similar facilities share the common name. I have no idea what ‘BAPS’ stands for. Worshipers at this temple follow the Swanimarayan branch of the Hindu religion.
Although the temple I visited has a Toronto mailing address it is physically located quite a ways northwest from downtown in a suburb named Etobicoke. MapQuest indicates that driving to this temple from downtown would cover about 20 miles and take 24 minutes using major roads. I used public transportation and it took me considerably longer.
Two ladies from South America who now live in Israel told me about this place when I met them one of the days I was in Ottawa when we shared stories of where we had been and where we were going next.
Monday afternoon I took the subway system’s northwest route to a stop near where that line ends. From there I took a city bus several miles west. On one of maps I was using I was under the impression that I might be able to walk to the temple from where that route ends but the driver suggested I get out a few stops before that and take another bus south, then yet another bus northwest. He was pretty sure that bus would drop me off right in front of the place, and he was right. I think I might have been in for a long walk and probably would have gotten lost if I had stuck to my original plan.
This was the sign which greeted me at the main gate.
There was another sign just past an unoccupied security gatehouse which advised visitors that they were entering a place of worship and that there were rules which must be followed. I followed instructions on that sign to use the intercom to declare my intentions to a security guard who ultimately told me to walk to the main entrance and come inside to discuss my plans (the intercom barely worked and this was the easiest solution). Upon entering the “Haveli,” a cultural center and meeting hall, I immediately removed my shoes as instructed and found my way to the Information desk.
I had already decided that I wasn’t going to enter any of the interior portions of the temple as it sounded like there are always things going on there and I didn’t want to intrude. I told the guard that I simply wanted to take pictures of the exterior and he said that was fine.
I put my shoes back on once I was outside the building and walked next door to the “Mandir,” or Temple.
It took 18 months to build this structure using hand carved Italian marble, Turkish limestone and Indian pink stone. A chain link fence wouldn’t permit me to get too close to the building so I relied on my digital camera to get some close up shots. The mid-day sun was on the opposite side of the building so the photos are a little “washed out”.
The Haveli next door also had many elaborate wood carvings near the main entrance doors. These carvings consisted of many, many themes, some containing people and others featuring various animals. There was way more variety than the few shots I am posting.
The city bus which took me to the entrance of this facility didn’t run very often so I pretty much just scrambled to get my photos and walked back out to catch the next one that came along. I reversed the transportation sequence to get back downtown. All things considered, it took me much longer to get there and get back downtown than I actually spent on the property but it had been highly recommended and if I hadn’t made the trip I would have always wondered what I had missed. There are a few, but not many, photos of the interior online.