The temple will be the first ever stone temple of its kind in the Middle East…

The foundation stone will be laid out for the first ever traditional Hindu Mandir (temple) in Abu Dhabi on April 20.

It will not only be the first stone temple of its kind not only in the UAE, but across the Middle East as well.

The landmark event will be attended by spiritual leaders and dignitaries, and will also draw thousands of worshippers who will witness the monumental occasion.

Construction of the Mandir will begin soon after the foundation laying ceremony and is expected to be completed by 2020.

ALSO READ: 2019 will be the Year of Tolerance in the UAE

About the Mandir

It will be built on 55,000 square metres of land that was donated by HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit in 2016.

An additional 55,000 square metres was recently donated by the Abu Dhabi government for parking facilities.

The Mandir will be known as BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir of Abu Dhabi and will be located in Abu Mureikha, Abu Dhabi off the Dubai-Abu Dhabi highway.

The design of the temple was also revealed during Modi’s visit but at that point, was not yet finalized. However, it will take inspirations from several Hindu temples such as the Akshardham temple in New Delhi, India, pictured above.

The material for the stones will be pink sandstone that is found from Rajasthan in India. The stone is able to withstand high temperatures which will make it perfect for the summer weather here in Abu Dhabi where temperatures can reach as high as 50 degrees Celcius.

The structure, featuring seven spires and five ornate domes, will be entirely sculpted from stone by hundreds of artisans in India. Once ready and numbered, thousands of such stone pieces will be shipped to the UAE and assembled on site like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle.

The cost of all of this is estimated to be between Dhs400m and Dhs450m.

The temple will not just be a place of worship for the Hindu community who visit, but it will also include prayer halls, a visitors’ centre, exhibitions, learning areas, sports area for children, thematic gardens, water features, a food court, a books and gift shop.

While the temple is greatly welcomed by the 3.3 million Indians (50 per cent of which are estimated to be Hindus) who call the UAE home, it will also be open its door to people of other faiths.

This is yet another step that the UAE has taken to promote religious harmony and peaceful coexistence in the country and as well another landmark moment celebrating the Year of Tolerance.

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Images: Getty Images and social