The temple has nine sides made by 27 marble petals grouped in groups of three. The nine doorways lead to a central prayer hall with a capacity of 2500 people and a height of roughly 40 meters. The middle hall's floor is likewise built of marble. The stone used is from Greece's Penteli Mountain. It was brought to Bangladesh where it was cut into large blocks and then transported by boat up the Ganges River to India's Kalinga National Park, where it was used to build the lotus flower shape of the temple.
The design of the temple is based on the sacred lotus flower. The main entrance is at the top of the building facing east towards sunrise. This is the direction of enlightenment in Buddhism.
Inside the main hall are 200 small statues of Buddha arranged in lines along the walls. These are all that remain of the original structure which was destroyed by fire in 1981. The burning down of the temple was probably an accident but it caused great concern because it meant that Buddha was unhappy with how his followers were treating the temple.
The chief architect of the temple is not known but some members of his family have been working on it for several generations. It is said that they received their inspiration from watching dawn break over the Ganges River.
The builders worked exclusively with local materials including marble, sandstone, and wood, which were all obtained within 50 miles of the site.
It has a round, 9-sided form, as do all Baha'i temples. The structure is made up of 27 free-standing marble petals that are placed to form the temple's nine sides. Each petal is about 12 feet high and 4 feet wide.
The base of the temple is also made of marble, but it has been carved into the shape of a lotus flower. The root system of the lotus plant represents our own human roots, which reach down into the earth for nourishment. The stem of the lotus reaches up toward the light in search of warmth from the sun. The flower head represents Baha'u'llah, who is the source of all beauty and love. In this way, the lotus serves as a symbol of the Baha'i faith: It grows downward into the mud, reaching up toward the heavens.
In addition to being a sacred site for Buddhists and Hindus, the Lotus Temple is also considered by some scholars to be the earliest known example of an astronomical observatory. The building's design features tracks of varying lengths leading up to a central hub where the radius of each track intersects. These intersections are aligned with the stars at certain times of the year, allowing astronomers of the time to monitor solar and lunar eclipses.
The main temple currently has a sanctum, three antechambers, a pillared hall, and an open pillared hall. It is embellished with intricately carved pillars. The temple is surrounded by a pillared cloister, entry gates, courtyards, smaller shrines, and other constructions. It is one of the best-preserved Hindu temples in India.
The Virupaksha Temple was built during the 11th century by King Parantaka I (1025-1055 CE). It is one of the largest and most beautiful temples in South India. The main deity in the temple is Shiva as Virupaksha ("Lord who preserves food"). The goddess Durga is also worshiped here along with her husband. There are many small shrines inside the main complex where people pray for good health, prosperity, and happiness in their lives.
The temple follows the standard plan for Shiva temples with a sanctum, three antechambers, and a large pillared hall. But it is not exactly the same as others because there are no images or sculptures on the exterior walls. The temple is decorated solely with beautiful carvings made from wood and stone. Inside the main shrine, there is a statue of Shiva sitting with his legs crossed. This is called the virupa sthapana mudra - the gesture of granting boons. To the right of Shiva is another image of Vishnu with his hands folded in a similar pose.
The surface of the House of Worship is constructed of white marble from Greece's Penteli mountain, the same marble used to create numerous historic monuments (including the Parthenon) and other Baha'i structures. The Lotus Temple site spans 26 acres and has nine surrounding ponds and gardens (105,000 m2; 10.5 ha).
Marble is a generic name given to a natural rock composed mainly of calcium carbonate (50 percent or more), with various minerals present in smaller quantities. Marble can be either hard or soft depending on the amount of water that has been able to evaporate out of its source material. The word "marble" is also often applied to synthetic substitutes for this stone, such as granite, which are used in a similar manner.
In terms of origin, marble is a sedimentary rock formed as the result of the accumulation of coral and other marine organisms' shells over many years. These organisms die and their remains are eventually covered by more sediments to form another layer on top of the first. Over time, many layers may accumulate forming mountains. As these layers become weathered they turn into soil for plants to grow in. Mountains like these are called terra roxa ("red earth").
There are three main types of marble: limestone, travertine, and pyroclastic. Limestone is the most common type of marble and is found in large deposits all over the world.