Don’t sleep on India’s Lotus Temple.
Often overlooked by the Taj Mahal, the Lotus Temple, which is located in New Delhi, is among the world’s most architecturally stunning — and tranquil — religious sites. In fact, some have gone so far as to call it the “Taj Mahal of the 20th century.” (Plus, according to the Guinness World Records, the Lotus Temple is actually the most visited religious building on the planet — even surpassing the iconic Taj Mahal!)
The Lotus Temple, which opened to the public in 1986, was designed by acclaimed Iranian architect Fariborz Sahba. As its name suggests, its signature shape resembles a lotus, which holds vast cultural significance throughout India. The flower is said to represent peace, purity, and love. It also contains important notions in Buddhism, Hinduism, and other eastern religions.
The eye-catching floral structure took six years to complete, which is no surprise given its complex design. The building itself is comprised of 27 petals, all of which are comprised of concrete and white marble from Greece). The petals are divided into three “layers.” The end result? Awe-inspiring architecture, of course: Visitors are treated to a striking illusion of a blooming lotus. (However, in actuality, the structure isn’t actually opened at all: The roof is made of glass and steel — it just offers plenty of sun-drenched spaces for visitors to enjoy.)
There are also 26 lush acres of manicured gardens — plus nine bridges, nine ponds, and red sandstone walkways for strolling. And, while photography is not allowed inside, you’re free to snap away at the exterior.
Today, the temple remains free to enter, and since its 1986 opening, the religious site has welcomed millions of visitors across all ethnicities, races, and cultures.