The first Hindu Vedanta temple in the United States was built in San Francisco in 1906. Paramahansa Yogananda started the Self-Realization Fellowship in 1920, which constructed a string of elegant worship centers, mostly in California. These earlier religious establishments, however, although philosophically related to Hinduism, had their own codes. These were not typically Hindu organizations. The main purpose of these earlier places of worship was to cater to the local populace, the majority of which was non-Hindu. These institutes have continued to render most admirable service in acquainting the devotees with the basic principles of Hindu philosophy for over a century. After the large influx of Hindu immigrants in the latter half of the twentieth century, traditional Hindu temples were built. In the United States and Canada alone, there are more than eight hundred Hindu temples. Most of these have been built in the last two or three decades.
Dr. V. Ganpati Sthapati of Tamil Nadu, India and others from the United States and India have contributed enormously toward erecting magnificent Hindu temples in North America. V. Ganapati Sthapati (1927-2011) hails from 30 generations of stone carvers and builders of the Vishwabrahmin family. He was commissioned to build temples not only in India but everywhere Hindus have settled in last few decades. Many of these temples have been built according to the traditional Vastu Shastra of the Vedic period.
For some twenty-five years, from 1975 to 2001, Hinduism Today’s founder Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, was also instrumental in guiding and helping the erection of many Hindu temples in US and other countries of Europe. He said, “If Hindus moved to a country and do not build a temple, after few generation their precious culture will have been lost.”
Although there was initially strong resistance from the local communities at some places, the courts of law often prevailed and gave permission after satisfying themselves with some basic requirements. In few places, however, the leading Christian churches supported the cause of the Hindu temples. These new temples in America have a large community basis. Spacious halls have become part of the temple premises, which are used for weddings and other socio-cultural functions.
There is also generally a good mix of various sects and communities from different parts of India. In most temples, there may be one presiding deity, such as Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu, but other major and minor deities are usually also recognized. In a few places, the deities of Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh faiths also have been accommodated in the same temple. Although this practice may have become necessary to meet the demands of various sections of Hindu populations in a foreign land, there appears to be a hidden advantage in bridging the unnecessary gulf among the different sects.
Sri Meenakshi Temple, Pearland, Texas, like the one at Madurai, India, is dedicated to goddess Meenakshi, symbolizing the female power (shakti) aspect of the Lord.
Sri Viswanatha Temple, Flint, Michigan is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The scenic situation of the temple on the shore of a lake has enhanced its spiritual value.
Hindu Sabha, Brampton, Ontario, in which the main deity is goddess Durga as Jagdamba Mata, contains idols of other deities also.
Hindu Temple, Dayton, Ohio, has as the main deity the boon giver, Sri Satyanarayana, whose idol in black granite occupies the central place.
Connecticut Valley Hindu Temple has as its main god Sri Satyanarayana, who is considered as Mahavishnu, the giver of boons.
Sri Rajeshwari Radha Rani Temple, Austin, Texas, is a large establishment of 230-acres, which has been converted as the land of the great saint of the Lord, Shree Radha.
Venkateshwara Temple, Bridgewater, New Jersey, has Lord Venkateshwara as the presiding deity, whose granite image measures seven feet in height.
Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, Lemont, Illinois, has Lord Shiva as the main deity in the form of Shiva Linga.
Hindu Temple of St. Louis, Ballwin, Missouri, has been acclaimed as an architectural marvel for its artistic designs and superb sculptures.
Palace of Gold, New Mathura, and Vrindavan, Moundsville, West Virginia, is monument of golden domes and stained glass, an architectural wonder accomplished by the devotees of the Hare Krishna Temple, located among the scenic winding hills of West Virginia.
Shiva-Vishnu Temple, Livermore, California, has one entrance guarded by a majestic gate, rajagopura, which opens into a spacious hall, mahamandapa, leading to two main shrines of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
Sri Lakshmi Temple, Ashland, Massachusetts, was built initially with the help from the Tirumala Tirupati Temple of India.
Ganesha Temple, Richmond Hill, Ontario, houses Lord Ganesha and Lord Murgan, also known as Subramanya or Kartik.
Sri Ranganatha Temple, Pomona, New York, situated deep in the wooded valley of Pomona in Rockland County, New York, this beautiful temple is dedicated to Lord Ranganatha.
Sri Siva Vishnu Temple, Lanham, Maryland, is situated twelve miles from Washington DC. It has been richly incorporated with Mayan, Pallava, Vijayanagara, Kerala, and South Canara styles of temple architecture.
Sri Maha Vallabha Ganpathi Devasthanam, Flushing, New York, has a logo, adapted from Sri Satya Sai Baba’s ecumenical symbol—a light surrounded by insignias of several religions with “Om” on top, which represents the fundamental unity as the core point of all religions.
The Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Riverdale, Georgia, first installed the idol of Lord Ganesh. Images of Sri Venkateshwara, Sri Devi (Lakshmi), Sri Bhudevi, Sri Durga, and others are also housed here.
Hindu Jain Temple, Monroeville, Pennsylvania, has on the main axis the Lakshmi-Narayan temple, with two subordinate temples of Sri Radha Krishna and Sri Ram Pariwar.
Hindu Temple, Loudonville, New York, represents a blend of the modern and the traditional, the new and the old, in a smooth manner.
Sri Prasanna Venkateswara Swami Temple, Mamphis has Lord Prasanana Balaji as the presiding deity.
Sri Ganesha Temple, Nashville, Tennessee, has Sri Ganesha as the main deity.
Sri Shiva Vishnu Temple, Davie, Florida, is a large structure with two entrance towers, rajagopuras, and two sanctum towers, vimanas.
Sri Venkateshwara Temple, Penn Hills, Pittsburgh, is one of the earliest Hindu temples in the United States, and has been called the Tirumala of the Western Hemisphere..
Hindu Temple, Las Vegas, Nevada, serves the spiritual and cultural needs of the Hindu community and is visited by many travelers. The main deities are the Sri Radha Krishna, Sri Shiva Parvati, Balaji Padmavati, and Sri Ram Pariwar.
Sri Venkateshwara Temple of Greater Chicago, Aurora, Illinois, is excellent blend of the ancient temple architecture, according to the Shilpa Shastra, and modern design.
Malibu Hindu Temple, Los Angeles, California, is a spiritual landmark for the Hindu community of the metropolitan Los Angeles area. This temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara. There is separate Shiva temple also in the same premises.
Hindu Samaj Temple, Wappingers Falls, New York, received a gift of the idols of Lord Venkateshwara and Sri Laksmi (Padmavati) from Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams in India.
Kauai Aadheenam, Hawaii, is also known as Kauai’s Hindu Monastery. It is a traditional South Indian-style monastery/temple complex on the mystical garden island of Kauai, Hawaii, spread over 458 acres of tropical lushness. Recently 13-foot-tall Bronze Hanuman image has been installed.
Sanatan Dharam Temple, Los Angeles, California, has become a landmark of numerous religious and cultural activities in the thriving Hindu community.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple, Houston, is regarded as the first traditional Hindu mandir in the United States and is built entirely of stone and marble. Spread on twenty-two acres, this elegant place of worship houses thirty-three thousand carved pieces that were shipped from India.
Ekta Mandir, Irving, Texas was inaugurated in 1991 to serve the needs of Hindu community residing in the metropolitan areas of Dallas/Fort Worth.
Mahaganapati Temple of Arizona serves the spiritual needs of devotees in the Greater Phoenix metro, Tucson and Southwestern United States. The temple is located in serene surroundings with the open desert on one side and mountains on the other.
Vedanta Society Temple, Seattle, Washington, along with the spacious Vivekananda Assembly Hall in the adjoining premises, has been an active Hindu worship center since 1938.
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, Riverside, California, is situated on the eastside of Los Angeles. Spread on four acres, it has activities throughout the year.
Radha-Krishan Temple, Los Angeles, California, is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Southern California and is very close to the buzzing Indian community and trade center.
Sindhu Center, Los Angeles, California, started by the Sindhi Hindu community, houses the beautiful idols of Sri Radha/Krishan, Ram Parivar, and Lord Shiva/Parvati along with Lord Ganpati in three sections.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Chicago, Illinois, also known as Shikharbaddha Mandir, is spread over thirty acres and is considered as the largest stone and marble traditional Hindu temple in the United States.
Chinmaya Mission Center, Los Angeles, California, has now a spacious center Rameshwaram at Tustin, which combines both the Lord Shiva and Lord Rama idols.
Vedanta Society Temple, Los Angeles, California, started around 1930. This temple has served the local American and Indian communities for over seven decades.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Los Angeles, California, is built on a twenty-acre site; the temple has an imposing and artistic structure, with adjoining Haveli Cultural Center.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple, Toronto, Canada, was recently inaugurated by Shri Pramukh Swamiji, and was a gift to all the communities of Canada.
Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Georgia, was built at a cost of $19 million in the Lilburn suburb of Atlanta. The idols in the temple include those of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Radha/Krishna, Sita/Ram and Shiva/Parvati.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Temple, New Jersey, the largest Hindu Temple outside of India was inaugurated by Pramukh Swami in August 2014. It is built on 160-acre premises, 134 feet long and 87 feet wide with 108 ornate pillars.
Hindu Temple of Delaware, Hockessin has main deity Goddess Mahalakshmi. Towering 25-feet tall granite murti of Hanuman has recently been installed.
Vishnu Mandir (Richmond Hill) Canada serves the spiruitual need for Hindu community. A 50 foot Lord Hanuman statue is the special feature.
Many other Hindu temples are run by the Vedanta Society, Chinmaya Mission, Swaminarayan Sampradaya, ISKCON, and other Hindu organizations in major cities (and some minor ones) in North America.
NOTE: Adapted from Kolapen Mahalingum. Hindu Temples in North America. Winter Park, Fla, Titan Graphics and Publications, 2002.