It has been a long time since the concept for building a Hindu temple (Mandir) with a large community facility in Gungahlin has been conceived. There have been long years of hard work, extensive public consultation, fundraising, and numerous volunteers devoting their time to the idea. Today I am pleased to introduce the person who brings many community groups together and provides the leadership throughout the different stages of the temple planning, Dr Krishna Nadimpalli OAM. Over the years Krishna’s social leadership qualities and devotion have inspired many volunteers in the process of uniting efforts to complete their mission Gungahlin to become the home of a remarkable Hindu temple.
Who is Dr Krishna Nadimpalli?
I am an environmental scientist by profession and a passionate community advocate by heart. I am the founder and leader of multiple community organisations including the Federation of Indian Associations of ACT (FINACT). In 2019 I was honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for promoting multiculturalism in ACT. Over the years I have received multiple awards including the “ACT Multicultural Advocate of the Year” in 2015 and the “ACT Outstanding Volunteer of the Year” in 2017. I am also the initiator of the project for the construction of a Hindu temple in Gungahlin, in the suburb of Moncrieff.
How was the idea conceived?
The idea to have a temple in Gungahlin for the Hindu practitioners-residents was existing for a long time. Gungahlin is the fastest growing suburban area in Australia and is also a home to many multiethnic groups. Currently there are around five thousand Hindus living in the area. The idea to build a temple was picked up in 2014 by the Spiritual Master Shri Chandrabhanu Satpathy during his visit in Canberra.
When did the project commence?
The Canberra Hindu Mandir Incorporated was formally registered in May 2014. The first activity under this banner was to lodge an application with at that time Land Development Authority to identify and allocate the land. Many volunteers and trustees joined the project to raise funds and resources required for the facility construction, which will be built by the community and for the community.
What are the challenges faced during the different stages of this project?
The project has faced several challenges such as:
- The time period of six years taken for the identification of land during which it was a challenge to keep the community engaged.
- Community engagement and involvement in planning and fundraising activities
- Raising funds for building the entire temple. We have taken a staged approach to ensure we have enough funds for each phase with four phases in total.
What are the capacity and the amenities which the temple will offer to worshipers?
The temple is designed to focus on the social and physical environment and be in harmony with the surroundings. The facility will be built in compliance to the ACT Government Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate guidelines and regulation.
It will be a hub for spiritual progression as well as practicing religious rituals aligned with the Hinduism principles based on Sanatana Dharma such as compassion, harmony, inclusiveness, respect and tolerance. In addition, there will be a community hall, canteen and a parking that can be used for different events such as weddings, community events, meditation, yoga, ethnic language and Vedic classes. The community hall will be open to all communities subject to terms and conditions of the facility. Its capacity will be 300 people while the shrine will accommodate 200 people. At any given time, the facility will have a capacity to host 500 people.
Providing free food to the homeless and the general community is a big part of the Hindu tradition. Therefore, free food will be served once a week to visitors from every community. The canteen will have a kitchen big enough to cook and serve food to 500 people.
When is the project expected to be completed?
The project was originally planned to commence in October 2020. However, due to the current situation the completion of the Development Application (DA) will significantly postpone our construction commencement.
Phase 1 of the project is expected to commence its construction activities late 2020 and to be completed by October 2021. Phase 1 will be focused on the central shrine dedicated to Shirdi Sai Baba, the kitchen and amenities. Phase 2 will see the completion of the shrine dedicated to Lord Siva and his family, while Phase 3 will complete the construction of the shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu and family. The entire temple is expected to be completed by 2026. The landscape and gardening will take place in parallel to each phase of the construction.
Will the temple be open for the general public visitors and people who would like to know more about the Hinduism as a religion and worshiping practice?
The temple will be open to everyone who respects and follows the principles of Hinduism. In addition, the facility will have a library which will be open to the general public interested in the Hindu culture and way of life. There will be dance, music and language classes, meditation, yoga and spiritual discourses open to the communities with an inclination to learn about the Hinduism, its religious teaching and practices, or to do a research.