If Hindu temples are built to endure for 1,000 years, then this temple was built to last through the rages of 1,000 Canadian winters and searing summers. Almost defying belief, this head-turning marvel of traditional Hindu architecture sits in one of northwest Toronto’s industrial suburbs, overlooking busy Highway 427.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir — a house of worship for Hindus inspired by Pramukh Swami Maharaj — was constructed of 24,000 pieces of Turkish limestone, Italian marble and Indian pink stone, all intricately hand-carved in India. After the pieces were shipped to Canada, 2,200 crafters and volunteers assembled them like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle, without the use of nails or structural steel. In the gleam of the sun, the temple resembles a sparkling crystal sand castle, while inside the ethereal effect of light on stone creates a calming atmosphere for reflection.
This mandir is the only one of its kind in Canada. At the opening ceremonies on 22 July 2007, thousands of proud members of the Indo-Canadian community added their own threads to Toronto’s multicultural tapestry when the mandir was formally dedicated to the people of Canada in the presence of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It is a statement of permanence and beauty as significant as Toronto’s great 19th-century churches were in their day.
By Denise Harris