Florida Hindu Temple Seeks Variance to Build New Tower

January 7, 2002

Source: The Tampa Tribune

On January 7, 2002, The Tampa Tribune reported that "since it opened in 1994, the Hindu Temple of Florida lacked a significant religious and architectural element: a gopuram... The gopuram - a majestic, pyramidlike tower - should have spiraled nearly seven stories toward the heavens, calling worshipers to the sanctuary. But lack of money prevented its construction... Temple leaders compare the lack of a gopuram to a church having no steeple... 'It is something that stands as the centerpiece of a village,' said Ramanuja C. Kannan of Largo, an engineer overseeing the project. 'This will be the main entrance to the temple'... Now, with enough cash raised, Indian sculptors are working daily to lay cement and etch mortar to build the tower and accompanying pillars... The $3 million project includes building the gopuram, nearly 66 feet tall, and five smaller towers... Temple leaders are seeking a variance to build the tower 65 feet, 7 inches tall. The county's height limit is 50 feet... The towers will be built atop the existing temple, where a fellowship hall sits on the first floor and a temple hall on the second. Land-use hearing officer Harold Youmans is expected to make a decision by mid-January... At a recent hearing, Kannan explained that the tower's design follows 3,000-year-old Hindu architectural rules called the mandala, which dictate the tower's proportions and decorative details. The gopuram will be the first among the three Hindu temples in Florida and one of few in the country, said Godi M. Ramappa, president of the 1,892-member temple. Gopurams were built in Pittsburgh, Houston and Baltimore. The other temples in Florida are in Orlando and Miami. The temples serve the country's growing Hindu population, numbering about 2 million."