Bangalore in South India is home to a number of Hindu temples, statues and structures. To many locals, the most notable temple is ISKCON Bangalore, which stands for International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple in Bangalore city. More than a temple, ISKCON is a huge cultural complex whose main goal is to promote Vedic culture and spiritual learning as foreseen by its founder, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The complex was established in 1997.
ISKCON makes it clear that it is not just for Hindus and neither is it just a place for worship. It initiates spiritual, cultural and educational activities for all classes, genders, age groups and religions, with the hopes of achieving seven distinct purposes, which are (1) to teach spiritual techniques to people and societies in order to create a balance of life and world peace, (2) promote a consciousness of Krishna, the prime entity or godhead, (3) bring society closer to each other and to Krishna, (4) teach and encourage people to chant the holy name of God, (5) establish a special venue specifically for transcendental activities, (6) promote a simple and natural way of life, and (7) publish pieces of literature to achieve the above purposes.
Facilities within the temple and cultural complex are simply beautiful and heavenly. The main structure resembles an ancient yet modern ziggurat, a staircase that reaches to the heavens, making it truly a perfect place for meditation and spiritual transcendence. One of its special features is the 17-m gold plated flag post or dwajastambha that shimmer in the night sky. The site is truly eye catching. The premises are kept meticulously clean, with hygienic washrooms and drinkable water. The elevators and other structures cater to the needs of the elderly, sick and specially-abled people.
Other than its heavenly facilities, the vibrant and meaningful temple festivals are also drawing in a number of visitors and followers. Some of the leading festivals, among many others, are the Narasimha Jayanti, which celebrates the day when the Lord Narasimha Dev, a half-man, half-lion deity appeared to Prahalada, a 5-year-old devotee; Panihati Chida-dahi festival, which involves the giving of chipped rice mixed with yogurt; Ratha Yatra or Festival of Chariots, a grand festival that involves the taking of Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra on chariots; and Balaram Jayanti, which commemorates the appearance of Lord Balarama, the elder brother of Krishna and original spiritual master. Meanwhile, the most sacred and auspicious day in the Vedic calendar is on the Akshaya Tritiya.
A few of the activities being promoted by ISKCON Bangalore are cow protection initiatives, cultural education, gala gathering for the youth called FOLK or “Friends of Lord Krishna”, and a TV series for children called “Little Krishna”. The temple complex also runs a foundation for children called the Akshaya Patra Foundation. The founder of ISKCON determined that “no one within a ten mile radius of our center should go hungry,” and therefore created a foundation to achieve this purpose. The vision of Akshaya Patra is that “no child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger”. It is said that the foundation is now reaching out to 1.3 million children every day.