BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Doors Open Wins Again

A line of people waiting to enter the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir this past weekend as part of Doors Open Toronto.

It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who complain there is nothing to do in Toronto. To those people I dare ask, what did you do this weekend?

I took advantage of Doors Open Toronto for the first time this year and am happy to say I have another resounding reason as to why I love this city.

I'll acknowledge the weather really helped, but the beauty of Doors Open is that it encourages everyone to become a tourist in their own city. With this encouragement, I visited not only the big venues I had always been curious about, but discovered new places right around the corner from where I live, including places I pass everyday. I had no idea I lived a few short blocks from a Buddhist Temple, the first Mosque in the Toronto area, and the Toronto Zen Centre.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

I especially loved this year's theme, Sacred Spaces. The highlight for me, and what seemed like almost half the city, was the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in the north west corner of the city. Despite the crowds, a well-organized host of volunteers welcomed and guided the thousands of visitors through a truly spectacular building and place of worship. The building is breathtaking, its construction remarkable, and I plan on visiting again when I have guests (i.e. real tourists) come to town.

If you didn't get a chance to see any of the venues, or want to learn about places you didn't visit, I highly recommend the Toronto Star's architecture video tours by Christopher Hume. The five short videos talk about the architecture of five Sacred Spaces in Toronto including an elegant look inside the Swaminarayan Mandir. This video is especially impressive considering the special access. "No Photography" signs were posted throughout the inside of the temple and even if you could take photos, there would have been little chance to get a good clean shot as we were packed in shoulder-to-shoulder.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Which venues did you visit? What new things did you discover about Toronto?

The irony about Doors Open Toronto is that many of the doors are open all year. Check with venues on how and when you can visit in the future.

Thanks to all the photographers who have contributed photos of Doors Open to the blogTO Flickr pool. Here is a slideshow of those images from venues all over the city:

Not big enough, or not working on your browser? Check out the fullscreen slideshow on Flickr.

Too often I'm embarrassed to say it aloud, but with weekends like this, I'm confident and unashamed - I really love Toronto.

Top 3 photos of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir by joseph.

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