Atlanta is filled with tons and tons of things to do and see making it a word class place to live and visit. From the world famous Georgia Aquarium to World of Coke, historical museums and more. However, it’s best kept secret is not actually downtown, it’s just outside the city in Lilburn and I bet you didn’t know it existed.
If you’re an immersive traveler, then you’re in for a treat. The Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta is a stunningly beautiful Hindu temple that transports you to India without even leaving the country. Learn first- hand about Hindu culture, marvel over architecture and for a full immersive experience; join a service, dine with authentic cuisine and shop hand- made + imported Indian items. The temple was completed in 2007 and hosts breathtakingly intricate marble and limestone interior and exterior designs that come from India and Turkey. As a modern marvel, this temple was completed in only 17 months with 35,000 pieces.
As a native, Atlantan (we don’t actually say ATL-Ien) I discovered this place as a preteen and instantly fell in love. It was the closest that I had been to experiencing another country at the time and knew that I would one day return in my travels. To my surprise, my also Atlanta born and raised husband had never heard of or been to the temple. So, on our last visit home, I took the chance to introduce him to this one of a kind experience.
So, if you’re planning to visit, here a couple of things you need to know:
Basic Things to Know Before Visiting Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta
- Visiting is FREE
If you’re looking for Free things to do in Atlanta, then this should be on your list. Visiting the Mandir is completely Free of charge. However, if you’re interested in an in-depth experience, you can purchase a self- guided tour headset for $5. This money is used as a donation to the Mandir upkeep and other causes.
- There is No Photography or Videography Inside the Mandir
This place is BREATHTAKING and it’s easy to watch to capture it all on film or video. However, it’s important to note that this is first and foremost a religious establishment and those rules should be respected. You can take pictures and video on the exterior of the building but none beyond a certain point. This is the perfect opportunity to immerse in the culture and learn a thing or two during your experience.
3. Attending the Arti Ceremony is Allowed
If you are planning to arrive at the Mandir before noon, you will be able to witness and/or participate in the Arti Ceremony which is performed daily at 11:15. This religious experience includes viewing offerings to deities, candles and musical prayer. Please note that male and female will be separated during the ceremony.
What to Wear to The Mandir
Again, this is a religious establishment and clothing (especially for women) is important to consider. First, no shoes are allowed in the temple and there will be a place to store them inside. I highly recommend bringing socks or wearing socks for your self guided tour. Second, according to their religious beliefs, women should be covered at the shoulders and knees. You can purchase wraps and covers at the visitor’s center but it’s easier to bring something with you. We visited in the dead of summer and it was hot so be sure to consider the time of year that you’re visiting. Also, you are discouraged from bringing bags so plan to leave those in the car.
Visiting Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir with Children
- Use Your Visit as a Learning Experience
I highly recommend visiting the Mandir with children for a homeschool field trip or just as an immersive experience. For older children, it will be helpful to read books or watch videos before your visit so that they have a better understanding of what they will experience. However, the audio tour does a great job explaining. All in all, be sure to stress that the Mandir is a sacred temple and rules must be respected.
2. There is silence inside the Temple
One of the hardest parts of visiting with a toddler was helping him to understand that there should be silence in the main temple. Additionally, visitors are not allowed to touch shrines or temple walls. If your children are smaller, I high suggest baby wearing.
3. Bags are Discouraged
If you are planning to visit the Mandir with a baby, beware that bags are not allowed. The feeding or changing of a baby will need to take place in your vehicle, the restroom or dining hall. However, the entire trip to the Mandir can be completed in 1 to 3 hours max.
Indian and Hindu culture is largely in this area. For a full day immersive experience, I highly suggest visiting one of the neighboring Indian restaurants for lunch or dinner. There is also a Global Mall in Norcross where you can dine and purchase Asian cultural goods such as Jewelry, Homegoods, and Sari’s (Saree).
If you’re in or visiting the Atlanta area, I highly suggest visiting Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Atlanta.