When I first heard the name – ‘EME temple’, I thought I had mistaken the word temple. The name sounded more of an educational institute to me rather than a temple. And why not…temples in India are usually named after the deity to which it belongs. But in this case, I was wrong.
Yes, EME is indeed the name of a temple – a very different and unique place, probably the only one of its kind in India. Located in Fatehganj, Army Cantonment area, about 7 km from the ISKCON temple and near the Vadodara railway junction, the EME temple was built by the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) unit of the Indian army, hence the name. Even today the temple is under the supervision of the Indian army soldiers who do a fabulous job of managing the place.
At the entrance, ancient slabs of rectangular stone with elaborate inscriptions welcomed us in. On entering the premises, my reaction was that of sheer amazement and delight. Literally, the length and breadth of the entire area is covered with excavated sculptural remains of various Hindu Gods, Goddesses, saints and kings in addition to some very old Shivlings that the archeological department has unearthed from the various parts of the country over a period of time. Ranging from the 6th to the 18th century, all these remains are neatly arranged in the most picturesque, serene and beautiful surroundings. Seven pairs of Vad (banyan) trees named after the Saptrishis (seven famous Indian saints) and their wives provide ample of shade to these ancient artifacts and accentuate the splendor of the surroundings.
I was itching to take some photos but sadly photography is strictly prohibited in the premises. The stone pathways led me from one idol to another and I couldn’t help but marvel at the beautiful pieces of art which give a glimpse into the rich ancient Indian history besides the sculptural tradition of Gujarat.
Amidst all this stands an architecturally marvelous temple (also known as Dakshinamurthy) dedicated to Lord Shiva seated in south-facing position, who imparts wisdom and teachings to the sages, intuitively in silences. The color of the idol is black and is pleasing to the eye. The temple, wrapped in an air of calmness and stillness, is an ideal place for meditation. Covered entirely in aluminum sheets, the architectural structure of the main temple is such that it symbolizes religious harmony and communal peace. The five main religions in India are represented by different symbols in the structure. The kalash on the top of the dome symbolizes Hinduism, the dome stands for Islam, Christianity is represented by a 22 mtr high tower, the golden-structure above the tower represents Buddhism and the semi-elliptical entrance of the temple stands for Jainism. Surrounding the temple are shrines of a number of Hindu deities: Rama, Krishna, Hanuman and Ganesha as well as Sai Baba and Gautam Buddha.
There is also a miniature replica artificial cave, modeled on the famed Amarnath Gufa (cave). The darkness, the dripping water, the snow covered lingam and the continuous Shiva mantra chanting inside the cave gave it a real feel and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
The temple is open to all from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Do carry your photo-ids which are required as the temple is located in the army premises. I just loved this fascinating place, it was like taking a stroll in a wonderfully managed open air museum containing relics of old India- which unfortunately today remains the stuff of only our history textbooks!!
For a unique and memorable experience in Vadodara, I suggest you definitely pay a visit to the ‘EME temple’ and take my word for it you wont be disappointed!