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BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Stafford

(4.8/5 based on 30+ reviews on the web)
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir of Houston, Texas is a traditional Hindu temple built by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, which is headed by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, is a denomination of the Swaminarayan branch of Hinduism. The mandir, located in the Houston suburb of Stafford was built in 28 months and consists of 33,000 pieces of hand-carved Italian marble and Turkish limestone. The mandir is the largest of its kind in Texas and was constructed according to guidelines outlined in ancient Hindu scriptures. The grounds spread over 22 acres and in addition to the mandir, include a haveli and the Understanding Hinduism exhibition. The haveli is a cultural center in which weekly congregations are held. The Understanding Hinduism exhibition provide visitors with a foundation of the key tenets of Hinduism. The mandir is open daily for worship and to visitors.Mandir and daily ritualsThe temple is a type of ‘Shikarbaddha’ mandir, built according to principles laid out in the Shilpa Shastras, Hindu texts prescribing standards of sacred architecture. Within the mandir, murtis (sacred images of the deities) have been installed in different shrines. The central shrine holds the murti of Swaminarayan, with Gunatitanand Swami to his left, together worshipped as Akshar-Purushottam Maharaj. Similarly, different shrines hold murtis of other Hindu deities such as Radha Krishna, Shiva Parvati, Sita Ram, Hanuman, Ganapati and the lineage of BAPS gurus who are Swaminarayan’s spiritual successors. The murtis are made from marble and are considered to be imbued with the living presence of diving beings. Accordingly, Swaminarayan sadhus (Hindu monks) offer devotional worship to the deities throughout the day. Before dawn, they awaken the deities by singing morning hymns, called prabhatiya. The deities are then bathed and offered food and garments depending on the time of the day and season. Food that has been offered to the deities is considered sanctified. These holy offerings are distributed to the devotees as prasadam. Throughout the day, arti, a ritual where devotees sing the glory of God while a lighted wick is circulated before the murtis, is performed five times a day and named mangala aarti, shanagar aarti, rajabhoga aarti, sandhya aarti and shayana aarti, respectively. During midday, lunch is offered. In the evening, dinner is offered. Finally, the sadhus put the murtis to rest by adorning them with night garments. While food is being offered to the murtis and when they are put to rest, their chamber doors are closed.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Visited with my sister on a very cold night and omg the lighted building from the roadside illuminated and warmed our spirit. The building is really lovely and yes there are other buildings on the com...  more »
  • It absolutely worths visiting this calm and beautiful place. Located in the middle of a residential neighborhood is pretty easy to access. Cameras are not allowed inside the main temple and note, to a...  more »
  • So glad we made the trip out to see this temple before we left Houston. It is absolutely beautiful architecture, gorgeous carving and so elegantly done. In the evening the temple changed colors which ...  more »
Google
  • The BAPS is a bit out of the way from downtown Houston but well worth the drive because it's a beautiful sight. Be aware that you are not allowed to take pictures inside the structure, shoes must be removed and clothing must be somewhat conservative. Probably not ideal to visit on a hot summer day.
  • Heading down towards the Southwest freeway, past the beltway and a bit inside... there you'll find the wonderful mandir. It is open to the general crowd, though there are areas where one cannot go. There are several volunteers around, ready to welcome all and give insights into the religion and culture. The structure is absolutely beautiful and the surroundings calm. There is a neat little shop within the confines where one can buy snacks or memorabilia. Visit with an open mind and really let yourself enjoy this wonderful architecture.
  • Very beautiful BAPS temple. Diwali function at this temple is one the best thing to do in Atlanta. They have the best fireworks. Check their website for the event calendar. The main temple entrance is from the side and not from the main stairs from the front. Plenty of parking space. Sunday is usually a busy day here. Don't forget to eat the yummy food at Shayona Cafe. Shayona Cafe is located at right before the exit gate.
  • Love this sacred place of adoration. The details are beautifully done. There is also a small museum with a lot of information. My only complain is that there isn't access to wheelchair. Fun part is that you need to remove your shoes before entering the building. Would love to be back sometime again.
  • Truly a wondrous sight. The temple is constructed of over 30000 hand-carved blocks of Italian marble and Turkish limestone, all put together without the use of any iron or steel framing! Beautiful. Be advised that you well be expected to respect their traditions and customs, such as removing shoes, and men and women sitting separately in the temple. But that is a small price to pay, I think! Advised as a tourist destination for anyone visiting Houston.