Visiting BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir & Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep Buddhist Thai Temple in Chino Hills, CA.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, located in Chino Hills, CA, is a traditional Hindu Mandir that was completed in 2012 and is the first earthquake proof Mandir in the world.
Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep Buddhist Thai Temple, Chino Hills, CA.
We actually ended up at the Thai Temple by mistake on the way to BAPS…but it was a good mistake.
Although much smaller and more subdued than the craziness that is found at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, this smaller Thai Temple still had loads of charm.
Baby Buddhist aka Baby Monk.
In buddhism the elephant is a symbol of mental strength. At the beginning of one’s practice the uncontrolled mind is symbolized by a gray elephant who can run wild any moment and destroy everything on his way. After practicing dharma and taming one’s mind, the mind which is now brought under control is symbolized by a white elephant strong and powerful, who can be directed wherever one wishes and destroy all the obstacles on his way.
In Buddhism lions are symbolic of the bodhisattvas, the “sons of the Buddha” or “Buddha’s lions”. bodhisattvas are beings who have attained a high level of spiritual development. They have generated bodhicitta and made the vow to renounce the happiness of the highest enlightenment and remain in this world working until all sentient beings are free from suffering.
Offerings are always appreciated.
In Hinduism the patterns of the peacocks feathers, resembling eyes, symbolize stars. In Buddhism they symbolize wisdom.
Inside the hall that they consider their temple.
Almost looks real.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is only a few miles down the road from the Thai Temple. You’ve most likely seen it if you’ve traveled along the 71 FWY. The intricate hand carved teak wood Visitors Center is just as beautiful as the more ornate Mandir located next door.
Situated on a 20-acre site with a 91-foot lotus-shaped pond, the complex has a cultural center, gymnasium and classrooms. Approximately 900 volunteers, including many second-generation Indian-Americans, volunteered approximately 1.3 million man hours to construct the Mandir. Peacocks are said to have the ability of eating poisonous plants without being affected by them. Because of that, they are synonymous with the great bodhisattvas. A bodhisattva is able to take delusions as the path toward liberation and transform the poisonous mind of ignorance, desire and hatred [moha, raga, dvesa] into the thought of enlightenment or bodhicitta, which opens colorfully like the peacocks’ tail.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is open to all faiths. Constructed from 35,000 pieces of meticulously hand carved Italian Carrera Marble and Indian Pink Sandstone, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, encompasses five pinnacles, two large domes, four balconies, 122 pillars and 129 archways.
From the external walls and domes to the inside pillars and ceilings, the Mandir is completely etched with intricate carvings in marble and sandstone.
The 6,600 hand-carved motifs depict a mosaic of tales of inspiration, devotion and dedication, along with historical figures from Hinduism.
Artisans created the carvings in India with great love, skill and patience before the pieces were shipped to Chino Hills.
In 1977, Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the present spiritual leader of BAPS, visited California. During his first visit, he encouraged a small group of individuals to hold regular assemblies. He, and other senior sadhus, returned nearly every year, nurturing and inspiring devotees. In 1984, Pramukh Swami Maharaj inaugurated a small center in Whittier, California.
Nineteen years later, in 1996, the local group made a proposal to build a larger facility, including a traditional stone Mandir, to fulfill Pramukh Swami’s vision that he had shared with them almost two decades earlier and to accommodate their growing congregation.
With his blessing, the group began searching for land. After reviewing a half-dozen parcels, Pramukh Swami Maharaj guided the group to a plot next to 71 freeway in the City of Chino Hills.
With this thrust from their guru, the group successfully acquired the land and obtained all the necessary permits, studies and approvals to build the Mandir and ten other buildings—a process that proved much more arduous and lengthy than they had anticipated.
Before the first public hearing, city staff misinterpreted that church and institutional zones are allowed to have towers up to 80 feet high. But only are institutional zones allowed to have such high towers. The June 17th, 2003 meeting continued and led to a July hearing despite voting unanimously in favor of the project, with the height matter outstanding.
On August 2003, the City delayed plans to review the proposed Temple because of confusion surrounding the 164,000 square foot facility.
“Plans for the temple will not be reviewed by the City Council on Aug. 12 2003, as originally scheduled.” “Instead, city staff will meet August 26th, taking two additional weeks to investigate information noted by residents about the temple that has not been previously revealed and is causing concern.”
On September 14th, 2004, after a seven and half hour meeting with a crowd between 1200 and 1500 individuals, the Chino Hills City Council voted 4-1 to deny a code change that would allow the temple to be traditionally constructed.
Several residents sharply criticized the BAPS public relations firm for conducting a publicity campaign that they say brought hundreds of non-residents to the meeting, including, council members from Artesia, Norwalk, and Diamond Bar, a judge and the chairman of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Several residents said they opposed the Temple because its designation as a landmark would attract tourists. You think?
Mayor Larson said he felt BAPS was not given the fair share they deserve. He cast the lone “yes” vote stating that he didn’t have any problem with the spires and supported the project 110%. Residents of Chino Hills objected to the Temple saying, it would generate too much traffic, ruin the city’s rural atmosphere and become an unwanted regional attraction. Typical NIMBYs.
Objections also surfaced from opponents who said the project would turn Chino Hills into a “Third World city” and haven for terrorists. Photo Credit – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (no photos are allowed inside)
At least 1,600 comments – evenly split between supporting and opposing the proposal – were received by city staff, prompting staff to move the council to Chino Hills High School. Photo Credit – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
On September 4, 2005, BAPS performed an “auspicious groundbreaking ceremony” for the new temple. BAPS navigated a 14 year journey after first approaching the city in 1998 to build a temple on Peyton Drive. Photo Credit – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
Code Change denied by the city council in 2004 amid public opposition to the Temple. Sentiments changed over the years until the Temple received wide community support and the code change was approved by the council in August 2011. The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Chino Hills received the City of Chino Hill’s unanimous approval to construct a traditional Mandir with spires up to 78 feet in August 2011. Two hundred supporters signed up to speak, but 170 waived their rights in the interest of time. After 33 residents spoke in support of the project, all eyes were on the one resident who spoke in opposition. Photo Credit – BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir / By The Numbers:
5 Shikhar (pinnacles)
2 intricately carved domes
4 balconies with hundreds of carved motifs
35,000 individual stone pieces placed together like a puzzle
122 hand-carved pillars
129 seamlessly placed archways
6,600 hand-carved motifs and images
1,500 craftsmen in India
91 foot, Lotus-shaped reflection pond and fountain
40 base-isolator units to protect against seismic activity
597 kW of clean energy generated annually by state-of-the-art solar system
20 skylights for Natural and Energy Saving Lighting
900 volunteers gave their services
1.3 million man hours of construction.
Built to last 1000 years