We Visited the Hidden Temples of Abu Dhabi - You Won't Believe What We Found!

 We Visited the Hidden Temples of Abu Dhabi - You Won't Believe What We Found!

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is a cosmopolitan city with a rich cultural heritage. One of the most fascinating areas to explore is the temple precinct located on the western outskirts of the city. This temple area gives visitors a glimpse into the religious diversity and ancient history of the region.
BAPS Hindu Mandir
BAPS Hindu Mandir 

 Overview of the Temple Area

The temple area in Abu Dhabi covers around one square kilometer and contains several houses of worship from various faiths. The five main temples are the BAPS Hindu Mandir, the Abu Dhabi Sikh Gurudwara, St. Joseph's Cathedral, Al-Khayrat Al-Islamia Mosque, and the Evangelical Community Church. 

This unique gathering of temples in one location reflects the UAE's values of religious tolerance. The temple area provides a place for Abu Dhabi's large expatriate population to practice their faiths freely. The architectural styles of each temple also add visual interest to the neighborhood.

BAPS Hindu Mandir

The most prominent temple in the area is the BAPS Hindu Mandir, also known as the Abu Dhabi Swaminarayan Temple. Opened in 2022, this intricately carved marble and sandstone temple is considered a masterpiece of Hindu temple architecture. 

Covering an area of 25,000 square meters, the BAPS Mandir consists of two main structures - the haveli and the main mandir. The haveli is a cultural center used for education, exhibitions, and celebrations. The mandir is the house of worship featuring spires, domes, columns, idols, and carvings. 

The mandir's exterior and interior are made from hand-carved Burmese teak wood, Italian and Indian marble, and Abu Dhabi sandstone. Nearly 3,000 craftsmen from India constructed the mandir over five years. Intricate patterns, motifs, and statues depict Hindu deities and themes from ancient Hindu texts. 

The Baps complex reflects a blend of traditional Hindu mandir architecture with a unique Gulf influence. This remarkable temple is open to people of all faiths interested in Hindu culture and spirituality.

Abu Dhabi Sikh Gurudwara

Another important temple is the Gurudwara Nanak Darbar, the Sikh house of worship in Abu Dhabi. Opened in 1982, this gurdwara serves the sizable Sikh population living in the UAE. 

Abu Dhabi Sikh Gurudwara

Abu Dhabi Sikh Gurudwara

The white marble building features a golden dome and four smaller copper-colored domes at the front. The interior contains the main prayer hall, library, meeting rooms, and support facilities for pilgrims. Sikh religious ceremonies, weddings, and community feasts also take place at the gurdwara. 

Visitors are welcome to enter and should cover their heads, remove shoes, and wash their feet before going inside. The gurdwara offers headscarves and provides guided tours explaining the Sikh faith and practices. Stopping by the Abu Dhabi Sikh temple lets tourists experience Indian culture in the Emirates.

 St. Joseph's Cathedral

In contrast to the Hindu and Sikh temples, St. Joseph's Cathedral represents the Christian presence in Abu Dhabi. This Roman Catholic church serves the expatriate Catholics from the Philippines, South Asia, and Western countries. 
St. Joseph's Cathedral

 St. Joseph's Cathedral

Built in the 1960s, the cathedral has a modest sand-colored exterior with a tall steeple topped with a cross. The interior is spacious and airy with vaulted ceilings, chandeliers, stained glass windows, and stations of the cross paintings. 

Mass is celebrated daily in English, Tagalog, Konkani, Malayalam, and Tamil for the multicultural congregation. St. Joseph's schedules special English-language masses on Fridays and Sundays so visitors can easily join. By attending services, tourists can worship alongside the locals of this Catholic parish. 

 Al Khayrat Al Islamia Mosque 

The temple precinct also contains a mosque to cater to Muslim residents and workers. Al Khayrat Al Islamia Mosque opened in 1983 with donations from the late president Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
Al Khayrat Al Islamia Mosque
Al Khayrat Al Islamia Mosque

This mosque features a modern Islamic architectural style. Four minarets frame the main prayer hall topped with a rounded dome. The building has sleek lines and decorative motifs inspired by Arab geometry and patterns. 

The mosque has prayer spaces for men and women, ablution facilities, and a Quran memorization center. Tourists can visit the mosque except during the five daily prayer times. As a place for daily prayers, the Al Khayrat Al Islamia Mosque serves the religious requirements of Muslims in the community.

 Evangelical Community Church 

Rounding out the faiths represented in the temple area is the Evangelical Community Church. Founded in 1959, it holds Protestant Christian services in English and Korean for the foreign Protestant population.

The church building has an understated style with white walls, angular shapes, and a small steeple. Inside are plain decor and pews along with a pipe organ, choir box, and pulpit. 
Evangelical Community Church
Evangelical Community Church 

Evangelical Community Church welcomes visitors to attend Sunday services. Joining the congregation demonstrates how expatriate Christians in Abu Dhabi maintain their religious practices similar to back home.

 Reflecting Emirati Religious Tolerance

The temple area of Abu Dhabi provides a look into the Emirati policy of allowing religious freedom. While Islam is the official religion, the government permits expatriates to build their own places of worship.

Having multiple faiths represented in one location reflects the principles of inter-religious harmony and coexistence. The temples stand as symbols of the values of diversity, mutual respect, and dignity for all people regardless of background.

For tourists, visiting these temples offers an opportunity to see magnificent sacred architecture and learn about unfamiliar beliefs. The Abu Dhabi temple area remains a shining example of the UAE's openness towards other faiths in an Islamic nation.

Visiting the Temple Area

The Abu Dhabi temple area makes for an engaging half-day or full-day tour. The ideal times to visit are on Friday mornings or on the weekends when more activities are going on. Major religious festivals also bring crowds and festive vibes to the precinct. 

The easiest way to reach the temple complex is by taxi or renting a car. The temples are all located close together near the Mafraq residential area. Signage helps visitors navigate between the different houses of worship.

Guided tours are available at some of the temples. Or you can explore individually and observe the rituals and decorative details at your own pace. Try Indian vegetarian food at the BAPS mandir canteen or Punjabi dishes at the gurdwara langar hall. 

Spending time at the Abu Dhabi temple precinct provides a looked into the capital's multicultural landscape. You can experience this diversity first-hand by seeing local devotees practice their faiths in their iconic houses of worship.


  • Why is BAPS a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi?

BAPS Hindu Mandir is the first traditional Hindu stone temple built in Abu Dhabi to serve the religious and cultural needs of the large Indian expatriate population living in the UAE. 

  • Where is BAPS Hindu Mandir?

The BAPS Hindu Mandir is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.

  • Where is PM Modi Hindu Mandir (BAPS) inauguration?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi on February 20, 2022.

  • How many shikhars are there in BAPS Hindu Mandir? 

The BAPS Hindu Mandir has 7 ornate shikhars (towers).

  • Full form of BAPS?

BAPS stands for Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha.

  • Organization BAPS Hindu Mandir?

BAPS is the spiritual organization that commissioned and funded the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi.

  • Did Modi inaugurate BAPS Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi?

Yes, Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi on February 20, 2022.

  • How much does BAPS Hindu mandir cost?

The BAPS Hindu Mandir cost over $100 million to construct. 

  • Who inaugurated the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first traditional Hindu stone temple in Abu Dhabi - the BAPS Hindu Mandir.

  • Why did Prime Minister Modi give a standing ovation at BAPS Hindu mandir?

Modi gave a standing ovation at the inauguration to acknowledge the UAE's efforts in realizing the vision of an open Islamic society that welcomes other faiths.

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