Chicago Nostalgia – Baha’i House of Worship – Wilmette, Illinois
Living in a city and traveling to a city make you explore two completely different parts of the same city. When we travel to a city, we try visiting the top 5 of the must-go most-visited kind of places. When we live there, we try to break free of the list and instead try finding hidden gems; the kind of places that might not make it to the “top” lists but are charming in their own way.
Take for example London. Almost six months into London and we haven’t still visited London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge or the British Museum. These are the places that as a tourist we might have visited in the first day itself. But because we reside here, we are in no rush to see them. We instead devote our time to the places that appeal to us personally. For example, we have visited the National Gallery quite often because Little B fancies it a lot. We liked hanging at Leicester Square and walking across river Thames on Golden Jubilee Bridges. The day that we ride London Eye will eventually come, but we are in no hurry for that.
We had the similar experience in Bangalore and Chicago. In Chicago, we liked going to the Millennium and the Grant Park. More so we liked visiting places that are off the downtown area. Places where we found out a different side of Chicago. Places which might not be world famous but still contribute to the character of the city.
One of such places is Baha’i House of Worship; or as it is popularly known Baha’i Temple. It is located in the north-Chicago suburb of Wilmette. If you are coming from downtown Chicago, it will take you about 30 minutes to reach by car and a little over an hour to reach by public transport. The entrance to the Temple is from Linden Avenue and is free of cost.
As soon as you reach closer to the Temple, you will see three colours complimenting each other – the green from the lush trees and gardens all around, the blue from the bright Chicago sky and the white of the temple. Add to it the brick-paved Linden Avenue, and it will be a mesmerising site.
It is worth mentioning that this House of Worship is the oldest surviving Baha’i Temple in the world. It is one of the just eight temples of the Baha’i Faith in the world and it is only one in the North America.
Whether outside or inside, the Temple’s design is worth marvelling over. Look at this Google Earth image and decide for yourself –
We loved visiting the Temple while coming back from the downtown. It used to be a perfect pit stop especially because of the contrast it offered. For one, downtown Chicago always meant rush and crowd. The Temple on the other hand meant rest and serenity. I loved the architecture of the Temple for the same reason. Put the Baha’i Temple along with all famous Chicago buildings and it will offer an excellent juxtaposition. When all the skyscrapers are rising up to touch the sky, it seemed as if the sky is bowing down to touch the Temple.
I visited the Temple about four times during our three years in Chicago. Simple, because of the innocent beauty of the place. I call it “innocent” because it is not as bold as the Baha’i Lotus Temple in Delhi. To me the Chicago temple always seemed graceful and humble.
Another great thing about the Temple is that Lake Michigan is just 2 minute of walk away. You can take off your shoes and spend few minutes walking on the beach enjoying the gentle waves crashing by. Just like we always did.
You don’t have to follow Baha’i philosophy in order to visit the Temple. I am not a follower of Baha’i faith or an ardent believer in religion itself for that matter. My multiple visits to the Temple were driven by the sheer sight and atmosphere the place offered.
P.S. The pictures used in this blog are from 2008-2011 (except for the Google Earth one).
For more information regarding the Bahai House of Worship Wilmette Illinois, visit their website here.