The master craftsmanship of Swaminarayan Mandir
If Minecraft were a university, what degrees would it offer? A Bachelors of Block Studies? Perhaps you could do a Masters in Villager Linguistics (yeah, best of luck with that), or a whole program devoted solely to the use and appropriate placement of Nether Portals? You installed one in the bathroom? Expelled!
If this hypothetical Minecraft University handed out degrees in Minecraft-ology, AlpZz would have his doctorate in Architectural Design and Swaminarayan Mandir would be his PhD thesis. Just look at it. All the other students might as well give up and go home. Seriously, off you go. Class dismissed!
AlpZz started down the road of Minecraft scholarship back in 2009.
“It appealed to me so much because it reminded me of my childhood playing with Lego,” he says, while I recall with frustration that Lego is its own plural. “Even now,” he continues, “when I have the opportunity, I still play Lego,” (ugh!) “with my little brother” (aww).
In 2011, AlpZz started crafting a recreation of Big Ben.
“You could tell this was my first building,” AlpZz recalls. “I was proud of it when I finished, but now, it could use a lot of work. Back then, working with fewer block options meant you couldn’t get a very good level of detail.”
Over time though, the game expanded. Build height went up, block variety increased, and players gained access to new tools like World Edit and VoxelSniper. “My first build on a multiplayer server was the Taj Mahal. Compared to Big Ben, this was much better. As the game evolved, I felt like I did too.”
Now with Swaminarayan Mandir, AlpZz is at the highest level of skill he’s ever achieved and still climbing. “When I see this temple, I tell myself that creativity and possibility are infinite as long as we have the strength to keep working toward our goals.”
Swaminarayan Mandir is more than a mouthful but it simply translates to ‘temple of Swaminarayan’ – a yogi who started his own sect of Hinduism. There are temples devoted to his worship all over the world, and now there’s one in Minecraft too.
“I built it for a friend's birthday. He’s crazy about the Indian architectural style, so after a bit of research, I thought this would make a perfect gift.” Proving that AlpZz is the best of friends because all Tom got me for my birthday was a picture of a cake. You heard me, a picture of a cake.
Swaminarayan is an enormous build, but it only took about 25-30 hours to construct over the course of three days. However, despite its intricate detail, AlpZz feels it’s still not quite perfect.
“The roof could use a little more work but I’m not going fix it,” AlpZz tells me. “One of the things I appreciate in building is finding all the little defects later and leaving them alone. It reminds me that no matter how many hours you spend on something or the number of years of experience you have, mistakes will always appear. Those mistakes remind us we’re human and lend charm to what we’ve made.” So remember that the next time you find one of my typos. They’re charming.
AlpZz somewhat sheepishly explains that, since he’s not the greatest roleplayer, he doesn’t have any story for the mandir. But just looking at its expansive gardens and majestic interior, it’s not too difficult to imagine your own. Maybe there’s a secret tucked deep in the green hedges of the garden? Or beyond the torchlit corridors that seem to stretch on forever? Perhaps it’s a great cache of riches, a flying carpet, or maybe it’s a magic lamp containing a malevolent genie that is better left undisturbed?
Well that got dark fast. Maybe I’ll just enjoy the hedges again?
Yeah, that’s probably for the best.
Renders by Iskillia