Colorful. Different shades of Red, Yellow, Saffron and other would dazzle you here. Stirring. The melody of bhajjan and a sense of celebration would put you into a trance here. A visit to Shri Swaminarayan temple was long overdue and I regret not coming here sooner. It’s yet another important landmark on M.A. Jinnah road which is a must visit for every ordinary Karachi wallah. The parking could be a problem here until you know someone inside the compound who could allow you to park the car inside. The pathway is through a unremarkable small arch right opposite KMC building on M.A.Jinnah road.
The temple is 200 years old according to the priest in-charge on a Saturday morning. The priest was originally from Thar. The architecture of temple is very similar to those of Jain temples in Karonjhar range. Could there be a connection? I wondered but could not find the answer. The temple is built in the honor of Shri swaminarayan who was an incarnation of God and lived his life in Ahmedabad, Gujrat. Many temples have been dedictated to him in Gujrat but the temple here in Karachi is the only one in Pakistan. Naturally a link has been established between this temple and those in Gujrat and every few years, priests from both sides visit each other.
The compound accommodates a Sikh Gurdwara as well. There is a sacred cowshed at the back and a gate which leads to a neighborhood with those fabulous balconies from yore. It is the biggest temple in Karachi and naturally a center of celebrations during dewali, holi and other festivals. There’s a significant hindu population living around the temple. On a rare cold morning, a lot of families from neighborhood were basking the sunlight in open compound. Few children were playing cricket. Another was walking a poodle from one end to another. KMC building made the backdrop. It was beautiful.