A Brief Description of the Hindu Temple of Central Texas
It was in 1999 that the seeds of the Hindu Temple of Central Texas were sown under the leadership of Madhava R Beeram. His persuasive power won the hearts of eight other members of the community to establish the first traditional Hindu temple between Dallas-Forth Worth and San Antonio. VP Subramanaian donated the land in 2000 and the temple opened its doors on December 9, 2001, with Sri Sreeram Hariharan as the resident Priest. Services at the temple have continued ever since without interruption. In 2011, Sri Srinidhi Bangalore joined Sreeram and together they take care of the services at the temple without interruption and in the most traditional manner.
The temple has grown significantly to meet the needs of the community. The temple itself expanded the sanctum area; Rajagopuram and Saraswathi Nilayam were added to the main structure that consisted of the sanctum and Anna Poorna Hall. Outside, Balaganapthy Sannidhi, Aanjaneya Sannidhi and Sarpa Raja Sannidhi were added. Homakundam and the ॐ Dhyanamandapam were the more recent additions. The Dhyanamadapam is a place to sit and meditate or just to sit and enjoy the beauty of the temple.
Since 1981 classes in Hinduism have been ongoing for children under the tutelage of Shyamala Nair. Once Saraswathi Nilayam was built, these classes moved to the temple. Now the children are grouped into batches with different teachers for different age groups. During these COVID-19 times, classes are held via Zoom. Cultural programs and community events are held in Saraswathi Nilayam and the hall is available for rental for private functions.
With the COVID-19 contingency, the temple is open only for limited hours and restrictions are in place to protect the devotees and the priests. Streaming Poojas/Homam are held on special days and most Fridays. A daily evening Prayer meeting, HEALing Prayers or Sandhya Vandanam, are held via Zoom on weekdays. All are welcome to join. Just click on HEALing Prayers icon on the website.
Detailed History of the Hindu Temple of Central Texas (HTCT)
It was in 1999 that Madhava R. Beeram, the founding President of the temple, noticed that even a small community would have a church or other place of worship. To have a public place of worship and good religious/social support system is common even among the poorest of local American communities, he observed. In spite of the good socioeconomic standing of us (the Hindu community), we did not have an infrastructure or support system to share our joys and sorrows of our day to day life. Thus the seed was sown for the Hindu Temple of Central Texas. The monumental persuasive power of Beeram convinced several pillars of the Hindu community in Central Texas to come up with strong moral and financial support for the construction of the temple. After countless hours of deliberations, hard work and unbelievable amounts of financial sacrifice from this small community, the Hindu Temple (Omkara Maha Ganapathy Devasthanam) rose on a beautiful ten-acre land (donated by VP Subramanian) just off Interstate 35 at 4309 Midway Drive in Temple, Texas. Temples, of course, are not built in a day. After almost 6 years and two million Dollars, the Hindu community of Central Texas has a beautiful temple of various deities, a dining hall (Annapurna Hall) and center for learning and the performance of cultural activities (Saraswathi Nilayam).
The HTCT is the first traditional Hindu Temple in Central Texas area and it opened its doors to the devotees on the 9th of December, 2001.
Until the temple was built, families have been meeting in individual homes and celebrating Hindu festivals and traveling to distant places like San Antonio, Dallas and Houston to fulfill their spiritual needs. The small Indian community has been sharing its religious and cultural treasures with the Temple and the other central Texas communities by inviting them to become part of its activities. From a religious standpoint, classes for children have been ongoing since 1981 under the tutelage of Mrs. Shyamala Nair. She, along with a number of others, perceived the need to educate the second generation of our religion, culture and heritage and inculcate those values in them. Weekly classes for children were held initially in her home for almost twenty years. Now they are continued at the temple. The rich cultural heritage was introduced to the younger generation in the dance format by Mrs. Vinitha Subramanian. She relentlessly shared her talent and love for dancing with her students. Classes were held in her home for many years and then relocated to the temple upon its completion.
After commitment for substantial backing from some of our members, Hindu Temple of Central Texas was incorporated as a non-profit organization with the help of Mr. Ramadass, an accountant from San Antonio. Many of our members like Mani Subramanian, P.K. Nair, Sundaram Sukumar, Gopal Guttikonda, Rajni Shah, Girija Chintapalli, Madhava R. Beeram, Y.V. Rao and Phalguni Mukhopadhyay made substantial initial contributions for the project and formed the core committee for this organization. Dr. Ramakrishna Rao and Dr. Kamala Rao sponsored BalaVinayaka. Girija & Laxmi Chintapalli sponsored the Maha Ganapathy Idol. Tirupathi Devasthanam donated Venkateswara & Padmavathi deities. Sundaram & Latha Sukumar sponsored Subramanya. Parvathi was sponsored by Mani and Vinitha Subramanian. Radha and Krishna were sponsored by Sudharsan & Kalpana Majmudar and Ram Parivar by Bobby & Shobhana Bhakta. Ramesh &Usha Patel sponsored Shiva lingam and Swami Ayyappan was sponsored by Prasanna and Shyamala Nair. Amba Matha was sponsored by Vipul and Dipti Patel and Anjaneya by Y.V and Anjali Rao. The community is richly blessed with many talents and the magnificent temple emblem was designed by CV Jithendran.
With the help of all these people, building construction started in May of 2001 under the supervision of Y.V. Rao. He worked tirelessly with several contractors, both in the United States and India, coordinating with the Board to build our beautiful temple. Since the opening of the temple in December 2001, many devotes have opened their hearts as well as their wallets and without their help we could not have accomplished so much in so little time. The beautiful temple construction project culminated in the completion of Raja Gopuram, giving an authentic look of an Indian Hindu temple. This work of art was ably done by a group of skilled and talented shilpis under the leadership of Ganesh Rajagopalan.
Ganesha is the main deity in this holy place, with a magnificent OM shining behind Him, projecting the unifying theme of Hinduism (hence the name OMKARA MAHAGANAPATHY). Lord Ganesha, 3300 pounds in weight, was chiseled from a large single stone cut from a mountain by religious artisans in Mahabalipuram under strict Hindu traditions. Other black granite stone deities include: Sri Venkateswara & Padmavathi from Tirupati, Lord Shiva & Parvathi, Subramanya and Navagraha, from Mahabalipuram. Swami Ayyappa brass idol from Tamilnadu and the beautiful Ram Parivar, Amba Matha & Radha Krishna marble deities from Rajasthan.
The temple’s interior structure is meticulously constructed in series of Garbha Grihas (Garbha gudies) reflecting diverse Hindu architecture for each deity. Details of these Sannidhis are exquisite. Ram Parivar, Amba Matha and Radha-Krishna mandirs depict beautiful north Indian architecture, Ayyappa sannidhi reflects Sabarimalai features while other areas project traditional South Indian architecture in great detail. This monumental task has been accomplished by bringing in a group of highly skilled shilpis from India under the leadership of the late Mr. Devarajan and Geeth exports of Chennai.
The Hindu Temple of Central Texas was started with a clear and simple purpose:
1) To provide a serene beautiful traditional Hindu place of worship to all devotees regardless of their denomination or geographical origin;
2) To create fellowship and camaraderie in the Hindu community so that it will be a source of religious, spiritual and social support for people in need;
3) To be an educational source for our younger generation and American community (schools, colleges and public) and
4) To support the community at large (that we live in), particularly the people in need.
Temple is involved in several community projects one of which is donating food to Feed the Sheep. Yoga classes are offered every Thursday. Several cultural programs by famous artists from India and the USA are performed in the Saraswathi Nilayam. Bhagavad Gita classes are conducted for children and adults weekly.
The Time Line:
Our temple in Temple, Texas, welcomes friends and devotees from near and far. We have been told that there is a serene atmosphere that gives that feeling of closeness to God and with oneself, both inside as well as outside of the temple. The positive energy embraces devotees. The priestly services under the able leadership of Sri Sreeram Hariharan Noothur, assisted by Srinidhi S. Bangalore, give us the traditional Indian temple atmosphere and experience.