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Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Nairobi, Kenya

The Swaminaryan Mandir in Nairobi is the first traditional Hindu Mandir of its kind to be constructed on the African continent, carved and created according to the ancient Hindu Shilpashastras. 350 tons of yellow Jesalmer sandstone from Jesalmer, Rajasthan, was mined and transported to Pindwada, a village 400 kms from Jesalmer. There the stones were hand carved to various designs by 150 skilled sculptors over a period of two years. The carved pieces were then shipped from India to Mombasa and assembled in Nairobi like a giant jigsaw puzzle. In addition, the interior of the mandir is a grand revival of traditional Indian wooden craftsmanship. Such breath-taking woodcarvings have not been accomplished anywhere in the world during modern times. The best available indigenous timber from East Africa was exported to India for the carving and around 250 craftsmen worked for more than 12 months in three different states of India. The work was supervised by an expert team of engineers and architects, who produced the world’s best ornate wooden pieces. A comprehensive world class exhibition on Hinduism and India is housed underneath the Mandir. It covers an area of 6,000 ft.2. The Haveli, a cultural complex is an adjoining building of huge magnitude which will accommodate all functional needs and requirements. The Swaminaryan Mandir in Nairobi, inspired by HDH Pramukh Swami Maharaj, like the Swaminarayan Mandir in London, will become a centre of inspiration, learning and service to society.

Mandir Facts


  • Jesalmer Yellow stone: 16, 500 ft2(350 tons)
  • Carara Marble from Italy: 13,200 ft2
  • Kota stone from India: 10,000 ft2


  • 5 Shikhars (Pinnacles)
  • 7 Ghummats (Domes)
  • 66 Sthambas (Pillars - 30 Carved, 6 Plain, 30 wooden)
  • 40 Gavakshas (Windows)
  • 23 Samarans (Arches)
  • 4 Zarukhas (Balconies)
  • 80 different designs
  • 30 Different ceiling designs
  • 5 staircases
  • 6, 000 delicate florical designs in wood


  • The only carved wooden dome in Kenya and perhaps, Africa
  • Concealed lighting and audio system
  • Interactive exhibition on the ground floor
  • Two beautifully designed fountains
  • Indigenous African timber used are Elgon Teak, Mvuli, Mahogany and White Oak


  • 235 Craftsmen at peak
  • Over 1 million man-hours have gone into the project since inception (150,000 man-hours for devotees and 950,000 man-hours for craftsmen)

Haveli Facts
The Haveli comprises of a Prayer Hall, Kitchen, Dining Hall, Concourse, Assembly Hall, Administrative Offices, Gymnasium, Dispensary, Youth Hall and a Centre for social services.


  • Maximum use of natural light through light wells.
  • Installation of energy efficient lighting system.
  • A total of over 500 species of plants have been used to create a botanical environment.

The exhibition is called ‘Glorious India - Culture and Values’. It is an interactive and educative exhibition, the first of its kind in Africa. Through a spectacular and fascinating combination of 50 translites, 150 graphic displays, 8 miniature dioramas, surround sceneries, audio-video programmes and walk-through experiences, the exhibition will be of tremendous appeal to tourists, travellers, researchers, school children, and common people of all ages and backgrounds.
The central idea of the exhibition focuses on cultural understanding and harmony. It begins with the link between Africa and India, and then depicts the glory of Indian culture, ancient civilization, Hindu beliefs and global values for peace and progress.
The exhibition covers an area of 6,000 ft2 and comprises of:

  • Understanding Hinduism - land, people and civilization
  • India's contributions - in science and society
  • Human values - social, cultural and spiritual
  • Living culture - the Swaminarayan sampraday
  • Global values - for global crises

Labour of Love
The mandir is a gigantic effort of volunteerism and craftsmanship. Everyday, an average of 40-50 volunteers arrived at the site ready for a full day’s ‘seva’. These included devotees who were shopkeepers, doctors, students and retirees. They zealously served in cleaning the site, polishing the sandstone, electrical work, cementing and concreting, plumbing and drainage work, carpentry work on the carved doors and window fixings inside the complex and final touch-ups on the Haveli complex.
Several hundreds of devotees sacrificed their favourite foods and past times and donated the savings to the mandir project. Many more had offered prayers, prostrations, circumambulations, fasts and read holy scriptures for the successful construction and inauguration of the mandir.

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© 1999, Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Swaminarayan Aksharpith