Home Destinations A treasure on Temple Road

A treasure on Temple Road

by Zora Regulic
A woman wearing a green sari walking past the temple entrance.

One of the most striking yet little known buildings south of Sydney in the Illawarra region is the Sri Venkateswara Hindu temple.


Travellers often visit exotic destinations taking photos of every temple and church they spot. Sometimes we tend to forget that beautiful temples and churches can be found not far from our own homes. The Sri Venkateswara Hindu Temple in Helensburgh, New South Wales, is one such place.

I’ve glimpsed a white Rajagopuram (or temple tower) many times through the tall gum trees on my journey down to the south coast of New South Wales. This time, though, we turned off onto the aptly named Temple Road, to be greeted by the beautiful sight of the Sri Venkateswara Temple.

The intricately carved pagoda at the Sri Venkateswara Temple.

The ornate Rajagopuram (or tower) at the Sri Venkateswara Temple. Photo: Zora Regulic.

The Sri Venkateswara temple construction started in 1978 when a small group of devotees found the perfect site for sale in Helensburgh, a small town 45 kilometres  south of Sydney. The land filled all of the requirements for a Hindu Temple site, including being near a forest, on an island and near water. The temple is close to the Royal National Park, circled by roads and is two kilometres from the Pacific Ocean. Stonemasons from India worked on the ornate temple pagodas and it was completed and consecrated in 1985.

Hinduism is a major religion in Australia – there are more than 440,000 followers and the Sri Venkateswara Temple is the largest Hindu Temple in Australia. Visitors and devotees from all over the world come to pay their respects to the deities.

My travelling companions were happy to stop along the south coast tourist trail and have a look at the temple. Its exterior is beautifully intricate, carved by hand by Indian artisans.

Gentle smiles

Leaving our shoes at the temple steps, we silently padded through the Shiva temple and then through to the Vishnu temple. Sunshine streamed in through the windows, tendrils of incense or holy smoke wafted, curling, floating softly and slowly, casting a beautiful light on people, shrines and deity offerings. Priests sat quietly together, women in colourful saris entered and exited the temple, gentle smiles were everywhere we looked.

Everyone is welcome

We happened by chance to arrive at the temple at exactly midday as prayer had finished and a free lunch was being served – everyone is welcome to enjoy lunch, regardless of religion. Dahl, biryani and tamarind rice, among other tasty morsels, were offered and gratefully received. We sat outside in the sunshine, making quiet conversation with devotees. A young man with his parents visiting from Sri Lanka, with beaming, gentle faces, had made the trip from Sydney to enjoy their Saturday before heading back to Sri Lanka that afternoon.

We left the temple with sense of calm. It may be a place of worship, a place to be still and a place to reflect, but it is also a beautiful example of a community at work together. Namaste. TTW

Zora Regulic travelled at her own expense. More information at  www.svtsydney.org. Photos © Zora Regulic.

You may also like

Leave a Comment