Mahima of Lord Shree Swaminarayan and the devotees of Kutch
Lord Shree Swaminarayan was always attracted by the divine attributes of the devotees of Kutch. After his appointment as the spiritual leader of the whole Sampraday, He visited Kutch in the month of Maha Sud 7 Samvat 1860. He spent 30 years of His total lifespan in Gujarat and visited Kutch more than 20 times (His total time spent in Kutch was 7 years). As a result of His frequent visits, a series of inspirational devotees realised that He was none other than the Supreme Purshottam Narayan Himself.
Such Bhaktos of Kutch included Ladhiba, Sundarji Suthaar, Gangaram Mall from Bhuj, Khaiyo Khatri of Mandvi, Sadaba of Kera, Adabhai, Mulji and Krishnaji all of Manukva, Karniba of Dhamadka, Saamat Sarvaiya of Rapar, Vaghasha of Bhachau and many more.
Bhuj is one of the six places where Lord Shree Swaminarayan constructed the temple Himself. This divine thought of Bhagwan Shree Swaminarayan alone signifies the vast amount of spirituality the land of Kutch offered not only in the past but even today.
The Original Temple
Senior devotees Gangarambhai, Sundarjibhai and others from the Bhuj went to Gadhada where Lord Shree Swaminarayan was attending the famous fuldol festival. During the festival devotees from Bhuj met Lord Swaminarayan and requested him to construct a temple in Bhuj.
The Lord was pleased and more than happy to fulfil the wishes of His devotees. So Lord Shree Swaminarayan asked Vaishnavananand Swami to proceed with a team of saints to Bhuj and construct a temple. Vaishnavananand Swami and the accompanying saints went to Bhuj in 1822 and drew up plans for the original Bhuj temple. They executed the plans with every minute detail taken into account and within a short span of one year, on 15th May 1823, the Murti's were installed by Lord Shree Swaminarayan.
Lord Shree Swaminarayan had graced this temple in the western belt of India and had Himself installed the idols of Narnarayan Dev and Hari-Krishna Maharaj.
Besides these, manifestations of the Lord at the central dome, under the eastern dome were seated Radha-Krishna Dev, Hari-Krishna Maharaj and under the western dome Ghanshyam Maharaj. Roop Chowki, the main square of the inner temple housed the images of Ganapati bapa and Hanumanji.
Bhuj Earthquake - The Divine Vision
The Gujarat Earthquake of January 2001 destroyed much of the city of Bhuj, including the side of the temple facing north which was built by Lord Shree Swaminarayan. Miraculously the divine idols remained as they were, without any damage whatsoever.
However after a mutual agreement between Acharya Maharajshree, Saints and the devotees from all corners of the globe and given the circumstances of the irreparable damage to the original temple building, it was decided that the idols would be housed inside a new grand temple. It was collaboratively resolved to construct this new temple a short distance away from the original site.