CHINO HILLS - Using cutting edge technology to protect itself from earthquakes, an elaborate Hindu place of worship was dedicated here Sunday.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is designed to last 1,000 years, officials from the organization said during tours after the dedication ceremonies Sunday morning.
A Mandir is a traditional house of worship in the Hindu religion.
It is designed to "calm the mind and open it," said Ronak Patel, a member of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha worldwide religious and civic organization, which for 16 years has been working to develop the Mandir in Chino Hills.
The Mandir "showcases the essence of India's ancient architecture, traditions and timeless spiritual messages" - a tradition that is more than 10,000 years old, a brochure on the new structure says.
The exterior of the Chino Hills Mandir is constructed of intricately hand-carved Indian pinkstone, while the interior walls are made from hand-carved Italian Carrara marble.
The pieces were carved by hand in India, shipped to Chino Hills and assembled by a crew from India, said Pinya Patel, who is not related to Ronak Patel.
The Mandir encompasses two large domes, five pinnacles, four balconies, 122 pillars and 129 archways.
As the only earthquake-proof Mandir in the world, the upper structure of the complex is protected from earthquake damage by separating it from the base with a series of 40 isolations systems, she said.
These consist of a series of steel plates stacked together with a specialized liquid allowing the upper part to gently slide laterally in the event of a major temblor, said Pinya Patel, one of many volunteer tour guides for the opening day event.
The Chino Hills Mandir uses a solar power system to generate electricity and reduce adverse effects on the environment, she said.
Natural light is used in the large assembly hall - with elaborate teak wood carvings - to reduce energy consumption as well, Pinya Patel said.
Since its construction in 2008, the assembly hall has served as a place of worship for the organization, which draws most of its membership from Chino Hills, Chino and surrounding communities, Pinya Patel said.
Some 200 families are active in the Chino Hills branch of the organization, she said.
The Mandir and the assembly hall sit on a 20-acre site purchased in 2000, said Ronak Patel, a congregation member who took a lead role in Sunday's inauguration ceremonies.
Inside the Mandir is an elaborate lighting system that baths the ceiling with a continually changing rainbow of colors.
The campus, at 15000 Fairfield Ranch Road, also has classrooms, a gymnasium, a kitchen, a rectory and an elaborate fountain.
The Mandir is open daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. No photography is allowed in the structure.
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