Akshardham Temple, New Delhi

There’s enormous security at Akshardham Temple and they make sure no one gets in with a camera or cellphone. So, excuse the stock image. It’s a Hindu mandir that was carved over 5 years by 7,000 stonemasons. So, one dude with a chisel could knock together a similar project in a mere 35,000 years. The carvings are astonishing in detail and artistry — just counting the elephants alone would take a year.

There are vast gardens and fountains, and a Disneyesque series of theaters with impressive animatronic robots depicting the life of a Swami (whose robot avatar has rock-hard abs), culminating in a darkened boat ride that proudly describes India’s contributions to science, art, philosophy, mathematics and medicine.

At times the content had the ring of a cult recruitment video, with lots of promises of happiness if one adopts the beliefs shared by devotees. This seems in sharp contrast to Buddhism, which doesn’t promise happiness at all — only contentment with whatever happens; contentment with happiness or misery and the fleeting nature of each.

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