North America homes not only the largest Akshardham Temple in New Jersey, but also the temple with the tallest gopuram in stark contrast to the skyline of North Caroline dotted with modern high-rises. GOPURAM, a most distinctive feature of South Indian temple architecture, is more than a majestic structure at the main entrance of a temple. Rising to the sky, it attracts positive energy from the universe and serves as the gateway to a divine space brimming with cosmic energy. Precisely, it stands for India’s ancient history, cultural prosperity, and spiritual glory.
North Carolina’s Sri Venkateswara Temple is the only Hindu shrine with the tallest gopuram in not just the States, but North America. Cary, a quaint town near Raleigh in the Research Triangle Park where thousands of Indians have settled over years, is the location of the temple. Though the temple was built in 2008, the 87-feet raja gopuram is the newest addition. The 7-storey gopuram of Sri Venkateswara Temple in Cary, NC was commissioned when the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to its knees. The tower was erected and inaugurated when the world began to rise over the pandemic.
“The raja gopuram is the threshold between the mundane and the divine. Named the ‘Tower of Unity and Prosperity’, the intricately sculpted gopuram of North Carolina’s Sri Venkateswara Temple is where devotees leave their worries behind while stepping into the sacred complex, according to the board of trustees. So high is the sociocultural significance of temple towers that the entrance of Trichy International Airport’s new terminal is modelled on the 240-ft high gopuram of Ranganathaswamy Temple,” said Sourav Agarwal, the Editor of Travel Beats.
The 2.5-million-dollar tower came into being because of the “donate a brick” program that elicited a warm response from the local Indian Diaspora. Evidently, the Tower of Unity and Prosperity signifies the growth and harmony of the Indian community in North Carolina, especially Wake County that houses over 51,000 Indian-origin immigrants, according to the 2021 census. Built in adherence to the Shilpa Shastra and Vastu Shastra principles, the tower was unveiled on Diwali, the festival of lights, in 2022, with North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper in attendance.
The temple housing a 9-ft murti of Sri Venkateswara Swamy is the Tirupati Balaji Temple of North Carolina. In the late 1990s, an Indian couple bought 2.8-acre land for the temple, raised funds for construction and laid the foundation brick. Inaugurated in 2009, the temple has the Dravidian style of architecture and features beautiful carvings of Hindu deities as well as mythological figures from the Indian epics. 14 skilled artisans from India were brought to Cary to sculpt the idols and figurines for the temple. There are also small shrines consecrated to 18 other gods and goddesses besides the presiding deity, Lord Venkateswara.
A bridge to the roots and a spiritual anchor for Indians in and around North Carolina, the temple has a gurukulam (traditional school) among other facilities within the 9-acre complex, which will house a two-story multipurpose assembly hall and a sprawling cafeteria in the next phase of expansion. It was at this temple that the state governor signed the historical Diwali Proclamation in 2017, declaring October as the month of Hindu Heritage.
Sri Somesvara Temple on Mount Soma, known as the Mount Kailash of America, is another must-visit place in North Carolina for Indians. Mount Soma, a 450-acre Vedic community amidst lush greenery and profound serenity, is where science and spirituality complement each other. Read our exclusive article about Mount Soma, home to one of the most beautiful jyotirlinga shrines outside of India.