Renovation of the magnificent ‘Old Temple’ in San Francisco, also believed to be the first Hindu temple in the Western world, is near completion. The temple, which is a part of Vedanta Society of Northern California (VSNC) and was launched by Swami Vivekananda in 1900, is said to have been built in four months.

“This temple survived the San Francisco earthquake and fire of April 1906. And during its renovation in 2014, it was claimed that the historic character of the building would not be compromised in bringing it up to current standards; with complete upgrading/renovation from foundation to rooftop, deepening of the foundation, plumbing, wiring, fire-sprinkler system, energy efficiency, roofing, etc (sic),” reported Asian American Press.

It was recently re-consecrated with ritual worship by monks and nuns from India, Canada and the US, and will be opened to the public around spring. This four-storey Old Temple on Webster Street on the northern side of San Francisco was designed by Swami Trigunatitananda with Joseph A. Leonard as the architect, blending elements of the East and West.

Its style is influenced by old-fashioned temples in West Bengal, Shiva temples in Dakshineswar and temples in Varanasi, among others. The building represents a striking profile of towers, domes and pinnacles, and its various towers “are intended to symbolise the harmony of all religions and the pointed arches and domes symbolise the upward aspiration of the spiritual seeker”.

Swami Vivekananda introduced Vedanta to America at the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago. This Order has over 180 centres worldwide, including in California, Florida, Illinois and Maryland.

House of prayer

The temple, which is a part of Vedanta Society of Northern California and was launched by Swami Vivekananda in 1900, is said to have been built in four months. It was recently re-consecrated with ritual worship by monks and nuns from India, Canada and the US, and will be opened to the public sometime around spring.