While I was researching my recent Indian dhokla story, a friend recommended I try the dhokla from Lilburn’s BAPS Shayona. (Unfortunately, I didn’t get to work this place into my original write-up.)
BAPS Shayona is a vegetarian cafeteria-style restaurant that “promotes a scripturally-based Hindu diet” created by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha religious organization. Its website states that BAPS is a “worldwide socio-spiritual organization — dedicated to community service, peace and harmony.”
To get to the BAPS Shayona cafeteria, you have to pass through a security entrance and swing a left into the restaurant’s parking lot. Inside you can order at the counter and also pick up some packaged vegetarian-friendly goods.
The standard yellow khaman dhokla comes topped with green chiles, mustard seeds and coconut shavings. You can also dip pieces of the dhokla into the tangy tamarind chutney that is served on the side.
What I didn’t know was that a mandir (Hindu place of worship, similar to a temple) is located nearby since the mid-2000s. And pardon the cliché, but it is a sight to behold.
According to its website, two million man hours of labor were used to assemble over 34,000 hand-carved pieces (shipped from India) into a 30,000 square foot structure. Somebody was clearly busy.
After our dhokla snack, my friends and I walked over to the mandir and were immediately impressed by the aesthetics of the gardens and the mandir’s exterior architecture. Inside was even more breath-taking. At the top level, a worship room holds statues of Swaminarayan saints (for a lack of a better word), and showcases a meticulously carved ceiling and sculpted columns.
I encourage you to go check it out if you are in the area. And if you work up an appetite, stop by the cafeteria.
by Gene Lee, Food and More blog