Barsana Dham: A peachy fam­ily af­fair

Guide to Dripping Springs - - 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.

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