Bahá’í House of Worship falls in Tentative List by UNESCO


Bahá'í House of Worship falls in Tentative List by UNESCO

Paris, April 20, 2014: The Baha’i House of Worship in New Delhi is the Mother Temple of Baha’i faith in the Indian subcontinent. It is an edifice eminently and elegantly distinctive in its design, and uniquely inspirational in its purpose: to represent the Oneness of God, the Oneness of all Religions, and the Oneness of Mankind, the guiding tenets of Baha’i faith.

Expressionist in style and spectacular in its architectural and structural and ingenuity, the House of Worship takes its inspiration from the exquisite lotus flower – a symbol of beauty, purity and divinity intimately associated with worship and a common strand running through the symbolism of many religions in India as well as their international sects and manifestations.

The nine-sided , House of Worship Composed from 45 petals of white exposed concrete “Shell Structure” soaring to a height of more than 34 meters and adorned with shimmering white marble external cladding, sits majestically on 27 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, located in southern New Delhi. Designed by Iranian-Canadian architect Fariborz Sahba, the House of Worship (popularly called the Lotus Temple), consists of five sets of leaves or petals (3 external and 2 internal sets) each set consisting of 9 thin cast-in-place-jointless concrete shells.  The outermost set of nine petals, called the entrance leaves, opens outwards and forms the nine entrances all around the outer hall.  The next set of nine petals, or outer leaves, points inwards. The entrance and outer leaves together cover the outer hall.  The third set of nine petals, called the inner leaves, appears to be partly closed.  Only the tips open out, somewhat like a partly opened bud.  This portion, which rises above the rest, forms the main structure housing the 2 sets of nine petals each thin shell structures called interior dome which houses central prayer hall, which seats 1,300.

The Baha’i House of Worship at New Delhi stands in testimony to the efforts of the Baha’is community of Indian subcontinent towards the promotion of communal harmony. An independent worldwide religion, the Baha’i Faith recognizes the unity of God, the unity of all religions, and the unity of mankind.  A true cross-section of humanity, adherents of the Baha’i Faith, who currently number about six million globally, come from virtually every nation, ethnic group, culture, profession and socio-economic class.

Being that the House of Worship is a modern piece of architecture, built just 27 years ago, it exists today in essentially its original, unchanged form. Hence, it is reasonable to believe that all aspects of Authenticity and Integrity of the Temple are intact.

It’s structure and specified building material follow relevant risk preparedness codes and standards, and are aimed to last at least 400 years withstanding earthquakes, tornadoes, wind pressure and storms. It is subject to regularly scheduled maintenance and has had no structural issues.

Comparison with other similar properties

The Baha’i House of Worship is comparable to the following World Heritage Sites:

Bahá’i Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee, Israel

Inscribed for their profound spiritual meaning and the testimony they bear to the strong tradition of pilgrimage in the Baha’i faith, the inscribed property includes the two most holy places in the religion, the shrine of Baha’u’llah in Acre and the Shrine of Bab in Haifa, that are associated with the founders of the religion. The Baha’i House of Worship in New Delhi is a symbol of propagation of Baha’i faith in the Indian subcontinent and only one of 6 such houses worldwide. The building has distinct OUV in its architectural form as well.

The Sydney Opera House, Australia

The Sydney Opera House is also a remarkable architectural work of the 20th century CE that brought together creativity and innovation in both architectural form and structural design. It has had an enduring influence on architecture and marked a radically new approach to construction, with the Sydney Opera House comprising of three groups of interlocking vaulted shells. The Baha’i House of Worship in New Delhi has had a similar influence in architecture and is world renowned for innovation in its design and construction techniques. That it has a strong cultural symbolism only adds to its OUV.




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