The Laie Hawaii Temple, known as the Taj Mahal of the Pacific, is perhaps one of the most beautiful buildings on Oahu and definitely worth a visit.
The Laie Hawaii Temple Visitors’ Center
The temple itself is an important place of worship for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and visitors can enjoy the gorgeous and peaceful grounds and Visitors’ Center.
The Visitors’ Center features a large Christus statue and interactive stations where visitors can learn about the history of Laie, family history work, and the Church.
The grounds are well manicured and beautiful with multiple pools and four friezes depicting different time periods. Don’t know what a frieze is? Neither did I! In this case, a frieze is a horizontal, sculpted depiction on a wall on each end of the campus–one for the Old Testament, one for the New Testament, one for the Book of Mormon, and one for the Restoration of the Gospel in the modern day.
The top pool nearest the temple is a reflecting pool, or “maternity fountain.” This pool has a carving of a Hawaiian mother using a clam shell to pour water over her children, which symbolizes how a mother pours out love for her children.
In all, the grounds really are special and one can feel a certain peace surrounded by the beauty.
Going way back to 1865, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints purchased a very large plot of land in Laie intended to provide a place for the members of the Church to gather.
Back then the Hawaiian Islands were part of what was called the Sandwich Islands and a young Joseph F. Smith was called to serve a mission there. After spending some time in Laie, Joseph felt a temple should be built there.
Members of the Church were responsible for building the temple and providing the funds in order to do so. They participated in a variety of fundraising projects from organizing concerts to selling handmade items and it was a struggle not only coming up with the funds but also finding the necessary materials.
Nearing the completion of the temple the supply of wood ran out and there was no other wood on the island. Two days later, the Saints (members of the Church) saw that a large ship was stranded on a nearby coral reef. When they approached the ship and offered assistance the captain said the Saints could have the ship’s cargo if they would unload it for him. Miraculously, the cargo turned out to be wood and just enough to finish the construction of the temple.
The unique exterior of the temple is made from a concrete mix of lava rock and coral supported by steel beams.
For a similar place to visit, check out the Byodo-In Temple at Valley of the Temples!
In 1919 the temple was finally finished and, on Thanksgiving Day, it was dedicated by President Heber J. Grant, shortly after then President Joseph F. Smith had passed away.
The Laie Hawaii Temple became the first LDS temple that was constructed outside the continental U.S.
As local legend has it, the Laie Hawaii Temple was also involved in the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As Japanese planes destroyed various parts of the island some pilots attempted to bomb the temple, but each time an attempt was made there was some sort of mechanical failure that thwarted their plan!
Later, in Japan, one of the pilots encountered LDS missionaries who were carrying a picture of the Laie temple and that man eventually converted and joined the Church.