I finally had the chance to visit the beautiful ISKCON temple in Bangalore on New Year's Eve. An early morning solo road trip to the ISKCON hill was always on my wish-list. I knew I could visit a near-empty ISKCON on the final day of the year, as most people would be busy arranging their annual picnics or planning their overnight parties. Being the oddball that I am (and a bit tired of Bangalore's party scene), I chose the day for a leisurely trip to this serene place.
As one enters the temple complex, one is guided through a series of serpentine paths and stairs to the main temple. The white and gold colours that adorn the temple makes it a soothing sight.
While I loved the organised manner in which the staff guided me through the stairways to the main temple, I was a little agitated when a man (possibly a security staff, but not in uniform) asked me rather rudely to switch my phone off, when he found me clicking some harmless photos of the temple (outside the temple). What offended me about this was the fact that the sign placed outside the temple clearly mentioned that photography was not allowed "inside" the main temple, which meant photos could be clicked "outside".
Barring this minor incident, my day at the temple was a bliss of sorts. The interiors of the main temple offer quite a sight. While the golden and rather heavily embellished decor soothes the eyes, the frescoes on the ceilings, much like Renaissance paintings, but depicting snippets from Lord Krishna's life, add a unique appeal to the temple. One should spend some time inside just to take in the overwhelming feel.
There is a small book store inside the main temple, which has a lot of religious and spiritual books, both for children and adults, and in various languages. One particular book that caught my eye was 'A Second Chance' by Swami Prabhupada (the late founder of ISKCON).
The way to the exit leads you to a large prayer hall and then a huge eatery/kitchen. The compound also hosts a number of shops that sell everything from Krishna painted jute bags and wind chimes to key rings and figurines. I bought a cute Krishna night lamp and a Krishna chime.
As a foodie is sure to find good food wherever he/she goes, I too ended up at the Satwik restaurant inside the complex, named 'The Higher Taste.' If you are thinking of having something from their special menu, do try their Devangere Benne Dosa. Another unique item I found there was what they call "Vedic Coffee," which is essentially apple-flavoured coffee. After a quick breakfast, and of course, gorging on the Khichdi (prasadam), I clicked a few more photos of the beautiful complex and was on my way home. The entire temple visit took me around 1.5 hours (including breakfast and shopping), but that was only because I went in as early as 8:30 in the morning.
All in all, this was a spiritual experience I would recommend to all who want to spend a few hours away from the humdrum of daily life, amidst absolute serenity.