Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Wire Service: AP
On November 7, 2005 the Associated Press reported, " India's Muslim president, Sikh prime minister and Hindu nationalist opposition leader joined Sunday to open one of the biggest Hindu temples of modern times, a $45 million pink sandstone shrine to religious tolerance. The Swaminarayan sect that built the temple -- the length of a soccer field and the height of a 12-story building -- runs another temple in Gujarat state, which was attacked by suspected Muslim militants in 2002, leaving 32 dead. Religious riots in the same state left more than 1,000 dead earlier that year. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and opposition leader L.K. Advani of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party joined in pushing open the door of the main hall of the Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple in New Delhi. More than 7,000 sculptors built the colonnaded temple over five years. It sits on 234 pillars topped by nine domes and is bedecked by more than 20,000 statues of gods and goddesses. The presiding deity is Swaminarayan. 'Ours is a country of unity in diversity. This is the ideal preached by Swaminarayan,' Singh said."