Swaminarayan Akshardham in Gandhinagar, Gujarat is a large Hindu temple complex inspired by Pramukh Swami, the former spiritual head of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha. Located in the capital of Gujarat, the complex was built over 13 years and is a tribute to Swaminarayan and his life and teachings. At the center of the 23-acre complex is the Akshardham mandir, which is built from 6,000 metric tons of pink sandstone from Rajasthan. The complex’s name refers to the divine abode of Swaminarayan in the BAPS philosophy; followers of Swaminarayan believe that the jivaor soul goes to Akshardham after attaining moksha, or liberation. BAPS followers worship Swaminarayan as God almighty.
The foundation stone-laying ceremony for the Akshardham mandir was conducted by Pramukh Swami on 14 December 1979, and the foundation was completed in 1981. Artisans skilled in stonework prepared the stones used in the Akshardham mandir; the process consisted of smoothing, contouring, detailing and polishing. Smoothing entails chiselling the hewn stone into smaller pieces; contouring involves stencilling the bare designs onto stone, and to give approximate contours to the stone; the artisans use chisels to detail the designs and figurines into stone; and finally, emery is used to file and polish the stone to a smooth finish. While the mandir structure itself was completed in 1985, the concepts and designs for the exhibition halls were developed over the next three years and work on the exhibitions and colonnade began in 1988. The completed complex was inaugurated on November 4, 1992.