Barsana Dham: A peachy family affair
Tucked away in the hills just outside Dripping Springs is a sight you won’t see anywhere else but India – a Hindu temple known as Barsana Dham.
Situated on 240 acres of land, Barsana Dham is the largest Hindu sanctuary in the United States. It is a re-creation of a holy district in North India known as Braj, or Mathura district.
Work on the temple began
in January 1993. It was completed in October 1995. The temple itself is beautiful, with it’s sparkling shapely tower and its intricate designs. The 35,000 square foot temple contains a combination of traditional and modern architecture from southern and northern India.
The temple is dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishn. Weekly services are held on Sunday, with an average attendance of 350 to 450. Barsana Dham also celebrates all Hindu holidays throughout the year. These can draw up to 6,000 attendees.
Worship services are held at 11 a.m. on Sundays. NonHindu visitors are welcome to attend. The prayer hall can seat up to 2,000 people.
The prayer hall has large windows that show off the beauty of the garden outside. The ceiling has a mural, with a blue sky and wispy clouds. The walls are decorated with carvings made by Shilpis, highly skilled artists from India. The designs include images inspired by Texas wildflowers.
“ We’ve taken efforts over the years to plant trees and seed wildflowers, create walking paths and places for outdoor meditation,” said Vrinda Devi of Barsana Dham Community Relations. “The atmosphere is peaceful and relaxed. Most Hindu temples are in the city.”
Barsana Dham also has a community center called Saffron Hall, which can be rented for weddings and other occasions, and overnight accommodations for Hindu families who travel long distances to participate in devotional programs.
Barsana Dham has become famous around Dripping Springs and Driftwood for its peaches. The temple maintains an orchard, selling peaches on a “U-pick” basis. There are sev
eral peach varieties, sold by the pound from late April through July.
“If you go to our web address (www. isdl.org), you can see what varieties we have and how much they are,” said Devi.
Barsana Dham is a member
o f t h e Aust in Area Interreligious Ministries, an interfaith organization dedicated to religious tolerance. “ This year, we sponsored the annual Thanksgiving celebration,” said Devi. “People came and shared their Thanksgiving traditions with us.”
The temple is a member of the Dripping Springs Area Chamber of Commerce and participates in charities such as Hands on Housing and the CROP Walk. The temple hosts blood and marrow drives for area Indians and Asians.
“We are very keen to reach out to the community,” said Devi. “People from any faith are welcome to come here. We believe in tolerance, that everyone can worship God in their own style.”
About 60 people live on the grounds, including both Americans and Indians, single and married. “My children go to Dripping Springs ISD,” said Devi. “ We’re part of the community. We love Texas and we love Dripping Springs.”
Barsana Dham is open to the public from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and from 3 to 5 p.m. daily. Guided tours are available for groups that call ahead.
Anyone from any faith is welcome at Barsana Dham, but as a gesture of respect, please remove shoes before entering the temple, avoid taking photos inside the prayer hall, refrain from smoking or consuming alcohol, or bringing non-vegetarian food on the grounds. Please leave pets at home and watch your children during your visit.
Barsana Dham is located on F.M. 1826, just down the road from the Salt Lick restaurant. To learn more about the temple, call (512) 288-7180 or visit www.isdl.org.