If you like visiting Hindi film sets, then this is the place for you. You wait in long queues to get in, you give up your mobile and bag (but you get to keep your wallet) and then you hang around near the entrance waiting for the others in your group. While you are doing this, many many people with brightly coloured plastic whistles blow them shrilly at you and push you to stand somewhere else, or just for kicks.
Finally, when everyone is together, you move onwards, marvelling at the manicured lawns, the fairyland fountains, the marble expanse of steps, the imposing "temple" far ahead. You soon realise why they have taken away everything from you. If it's photos you want, the "temple" takes them for you. You just pose and smile and pay, through your nose.
Then you go and leave your footwear at the "footwear house". Then you climb up to the "temple", where a saffron-clad administrator drones into a microphone about the history of the sect, pointing you to three large statues of the men who started it all in the 19th century. If you've been to Buddhist shrines in Calcutta or the Tibetan temple at Bylekuppe you will understand how the inside of this "temple" looks. Only, much much grander, like the foyer of an enormous five-star hotel, with acres of real flowers covering the floor. The person jostling along beside you whispers in awed tones that all the statues are actual gold.
As you complete a circle around this place, the saffron-clad person completes his lecture exhorting you to go see the Vedic Fountains. More money to be spent if you want to do that, of course.
If you feel hungry, they have a restaurant, supposed to be really first-rate. I don't doubt that.
My main problem was that all the small business that a temple can usually generate, providing livelihoods to ordinary people, have been completely taken over. The poor are kept out of the complex entirely. So, it doesn't work for me as a place of worship.
Neither do I like it as a place where to spend an evening, even though it has food and Vedic fountains, whatever they may be. This is because I hate being pushed and shoved by whistle-blowing keepers of gold statues that are barely twenty years old. If I visit a place that is just two decades old, I expect to see a different architectural style, not a copy of centuries old temples. A very prudish copy at that, with none of the joie-de-vivre that the old sculptures have.
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