Chicago, IL

Why this stunning castle in the Chicago suburbs should be on your summer bucket list

Jennifer Geer

The impressive Hindu temple, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir of Chicago, is open daily for visitors.

(CHICAGO) Although Chicago is a city known for its architecture, visitors may not expect to see a palace made of Turkish limestone and Italian marble sitting in the northwestern suburbs.

But a short drive from the city into the suburb of Bartlett will take you to the incredible Hindu temple, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir of Chicago.

This gorgeous temple is open to visitors, and the summer months are a particularly excellent time to visit, as the gardens are full of blooms and the fountains are running.

The Mandir is a place of worship and the religion practiced is a denomination of the Swaminarayan branch of Hinduism.

The temple encompasses 27 acres and includes the Stone Mandir, the Wooden Haveli, and the Understanding Hinduism Exhibition. Visitors can not only view this remarkable structure, but can also learn more about the culture of India and traditions of Hinduism while they are there.

The making of the Mandir

The construction of the temple was an architectural feat, with entire pieces assembled elsewhere and pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle.

The marble came from Italy and the limestone from Turkey. The materials were then shipped to western India, where they were hand-carved by over 3,000 artists in less than two years.

Once completed, it was another two months for the finished pieces to reach the US by boat from India, where they were then put on a train from Virginia to Chicago.

When the pieces had arrived at the construction site in Bartlett, they were put together "like a massive, 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzle."

And finally, according to the website, "On the auspicious day of August 8, 2004, the Mandir was consecrated by Pramukh Swami Maharaj and made open to the public."

What to know before you go

There is plenty of free parking available. Visiting hours are 9 AM to 6:30 PM.

The Mandir is a house of worship, and a dress code is required.

  • No sleeveless tops or skirts above the knee. Wraps are provided in the Haveli for visitors to wear who do not have the appropriate attire.
  • You may want to wear socks, as shoes must be removed in the buildings.
  • No cell phones can be used in the buildings, even to take photos.

Entrance is free, but you may want to check out the website for visitor information before you go for details.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL
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