I know…India is not in Houston, Texas. However, there is a piece of India in Houston. Let me explain. Whilst looking for some adventures to entertain us in Houston a few weeks ago in between wedding festivities for our friend Kristin, I stumbled upon a Hindu Mandir right outside the city. I will admit, I had to look up what a Mandir was: a temple for those who follow Hinduism. Although this seems a strange tourist attraction, it will all make sense when you see the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – Houston (although my photography skills did not do it justice!). Unfortunately, photography is not permitted once you step foot on the stairs to enter the temple. There were many details inside that I was itching to photograph, but could not.
During our visit parts of the temple were impeded by construction. However, even the construction could not take away from the beauty of the hand carved Italian marble and Turkish limestone.
The front gates were gorgeous as well. Too bad there were apartments right across the street (although, not a bad view, looking at a temple from your apartment window!).
I particularly loved the front entryway right beyond the front gate. The detail is just impeccable. In India, there are generations of hand carvers that carve these temples. Carving the limestone and marble is an art form that is passed on from generation to generation in India and thousands of artisans are specifically carving pieces for Mandirs daily. We were able to learn a lot about the process and how the pieces fit together from the guide posted at the entrance of the Mandir when we arrived. He was able to explain the meaning behind certain carvings and how the pieces fit together. It was a wonderful experience to be able to see and hear how much detail is put into each and every carved piece.
I really wanted to take a similar shot inside the temple. However, this was a close second in gorgeous detail though!
Below are some of the carved details along the front wall between the shoe room(s) and the stairs to the inside of the Mandir. Remember, these are carved by hand! The detail blows you away! [And yes, we had to remove our shoes in order to walk inside the temple.]
I had to at least get a shot of Clay and I in the entryway. Not to mention, I have to show my short skirt, rebel that I am! Ha! They have a dress code at the Mandir that you must have sleeves and your clothing must be knee length. This specifically means it must cover the knees, not just touch the knees. I got to don a lovely skirt on top of my skirt that the guide provided while we toured the inside of the temple. Fortunately, there were no pictures inside the temple, so only two other people get that mental image!
Visiting this hand-carved temple was the highlight of our Houston trip. [Obviously, not counting the wedding!] And that is saying a lot, as the rest of the trip was wonderful!
If you ever find yourself in Houston, whether for work or pleasure, I would highly recommend taking the short detour outside the city to visit the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. You will not regret it!