Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New $1.5 million Hindu temple will rise in Tampa Heights

The congregation of the Sanatan Mandir temple gathers at a former community center at 311 E Palm Ave. A new temple, 2 1/2 times the size of this one, will rise next door.

Photo by Sommer Brokaw

The congregation of the Sanatan Mandir temple gathers at a former community center at 311 E Palm Ave. A new temple, 2 1/2 times the size of this one, will rise next door.

TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn had just come off a 20-plus-hour flight from Mumbai, India. Yet there he was last Saturday morning, joining other community leaders for the groundbreaking of the $1.5 million Sanatan Mandir Hindu temple in Tampa Heights.

"I don't know what time zone I am in right now, I don't know what day this is, but I'm very happy to be here for a lot of reasons," Buckhorn said.

He pointed out that he was assistant to the mayor when Dr. Pawan Rattan bought the property in Tampa Heights, which was, in Buckhorn's words, "nothing but a drug-infested and a crack-infested neighborhood."

"And look at it now," the mayor said.

Pooja Sharma, who has attended the temple for 10 years, said she is excited about having more open space for the children and for festivals.

"It means a lot because we really feel blessed coming here and listening to religious music," she said. Also, it helps to pass on the "dharma," the natural universal laws whose observance allows people to be happy, Hindus believe.

Temple president Pankaj Patel said the groundbreaking was all about "planting seeds for generations to come, and our children, they need to be aware of how we as a people came to the current country and still practice our faith."

Sanatan Mandir opened in 1991. It currently exists in the community center of what used to be Congregation Rodeph Sholom, which moved to Bayshore Boulevard. The actual Rodeph Sholom synagogue was demolished.

The current temple, which has about 4,000 square feet, is next to the new site and will once again become a community center as soon as the new temple starts functioning. All existing deities will be moved to the new temple, along with new marble statues of deities from India, according to organizers.

Its sikharas, or rising towers, will be visible from Interstate 275, Rattan said.

Ram Jakhotia said that more than 30 years ago, they would have group prayers at one house or another, but they wanted one gathering spot for prayer daily. "The whole idea of this temple started from that, and it's become a reality," he said.

The Sanatan Mandir is a culmination of a dream of Rattan's late father, S.R. Rattan (Pitaji), who reminded his son that making money was not the only reason he moved to the United States.

The city of Tampa granted a permit to build the new temple building on Jan. 23. Patel said they're on track with their goal to finish the first phase of fundraising in three months. From there, they will move on to the second and third phases in hopes of finishing the whole project in a year.

Progress is being made because of donors like the Agarwal family, who gave $50,000.

"For like 12 years, I'm coming to this temple, and we have a faith, we believe in how this contribution is going to contribute to the values," Ranjana Agarwal said.

Her husband, Vimal Agarwal, added: "She said it was dear to her heart and obviously it's dear to my heart as well."

New $1.5 million Hindu temple will rise in Tampa Heights 02/26/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 12:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Astros rout Yankees to force Game 7 of AL Championship Series


    HOUSTON — Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings to outduel Luis Severino for the second time, and the Astros bats came alive in their return home as Houston routed the Yankees 7-1 Friday night and forced a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

    The Astros’ Brian McCann, who has struggled during the ALCS, breaks a scoreless tie with an RBI double during the fifth inning off Yankees starter Luis Severino.
  2. Review: Faith Hill and Tim McGraw shower love, star power on Tampa's Amalie Arena


    Near the end of their potent new duet Break First, Tim McGraw stopped singing, and let Faith Hill's powerhouse voice take over.

    Faith Hill and Tim McGraw performed at Amalie Arena in Tampa on Oct. 20, 2017.
  3. Senate to take up AUMF debate as Trump defends reaction to Niger attack


    WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up a long-awaited debate about authorizing military force against the Islamic State as President Trump comes under unprecedented public scrutiny for his treatment of dead soldiers' families, following an ambush on troops helping to fight Islamic …

  4. In fear and vigilance, a Tampa neighborhood holds its breath


    TAMPA — There was a time, not long ago, when Wayne Capaz would go for a stroll at night and Christina Rodriguez would shop whenever she wanted. Michael Fuller would go to his night job as a line cook, not too worried about his wife at home.

    More than 50 people gathered and walked in the Southeast Seminole Heights community Friday to pay respects to the victims of three shootings. The crowd took a moment of silence at the corner of 11th Street and East New Orleans where Monica Hoffa was found dead. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. Fennelly: What's not to like about Lightning's start?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — No one is engraving the Stanley Cup. No one has begun stuffing the league MVP ballot box for Nikita Kucherov.

    The Lightning, with a win tonight, would match the best start in franchise history, 7-1-1 in the 2003-04 Cup season.