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Bush likely to visit Delhi's Akshardham

The US President, accompanied by wife Laura, is coming to India on a state visit around March 1.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2006 17:26 IST

US President George W Bush is likely to visit the capital's newly built Akshardham Temple.

The US President, accompanied by wife Laura Bush, is coming to India on a state visit around March 1. Officially, the dates of the visit are yet to be announced.

"A team of US embassy officials visited the temple along with officers of Delhi Police and the Ministry of External Affairs," said Janak Dave, chief spokesperson of the temple.

If the programme gets a go-ahead then the security arrangement would be handed over to Delhi Police and the Ministry of External Affairs, Dave said.

Asked about reports that the temple would hold an all-faith congregation during Bush's tour, Dave said there were no such plans.

He said the temple staff were enthusiastically looking forward to welcoming Bush and guiding him through the different sections of the sprawling complex.

Though a tour of the entire temple takes at least three and a half hours, the President and his wife will be given a curtailed 45-minute guided tour, Dave said.

The Akshardham temple is an architectural marvel made in pink sandstone and white marble on the banks of the River Yamuna.

The 141-foot-high temple, patterned on the Akshardham complex in Gujarat's capital Gandhinagar, has been built in a 100-acre complex at a cost of around Rs 2 billion ($44 million).

The main temple dome rises majestically over the two-storied sandstone colonnade of 1,160 pillars. The temple was inaugurated on November 6, 2005.

It has 148 stone elephants depicting ancient tales from the Indian scriptures.

The main temple houses an 11-foot statue of Lord Swaminarayan, an 18th century Hindu social reformer, whose disciples formed the Swaminarayan sect that has an estimated 100,000 followers worldwide.

Guarded by two magnificent gates, Bhakti Dwar or devotion gate and Mayur Dwar or peacock gate, the prime spot of the complex has 234 carved ornate pillars with over 20,000 statues, decorative arches and domes.

First Published: Jan 24, 2006 15:58 IST