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Calm and grounded tranquility spiral up my body and mind once I step foot on the tropical soil of Kauai’s Hindu Monastery. The monastery, on 376 lush acres near the Wailua River, contains botanical gardens, waterways and ponds. Sitting at the foot of the extinct volcano, Mount Waialeale, the spiritual sanctuary invites visitors. Dan and I are here for the free 30 minute self-guided tour that covers the entrance area.
Right off the parking area, where parking spots are neatly marked with tree branches, is a gazebo. Underneath, a beautiful artist’s rendition of the grounds complement the information posters that acquaint you with the Monastery’s history. The grounds are vibrant, pulsing with the life of beautiful trees, flowers and birds. Next to the entry gate is a statue of Ganesha, Remover of Obstacles and God of Good Timing, waiting for your prayers. A slate pathway winds its way to one of the most amazing things; the largest Banyan tree I have ever seen! Dan guesses it’s about 3600 square feet.
Lord Shanmuga resides under the banyan tree “a living symbol of Hinduism’s great strength and breadth.”
Making your way down the narrow side path, you are completely enfolded inside the ancient tree, its green canopy and gnarly branches creating a feeling of safety. The imperfect twisted branches convey perfection in the proud and h3 way the tree stands, resplendent in itself. In the center is a statue of Lord Shanmuga, a six faced God who guides the transformation of the instinctive into pine wisdom.
The self-guided tour ends at the Kadavul Temple. Shrouded by giant trees, willowy branches hang down as oversized ivy leaves crawl up their trunks. A 16 ton black granite bull faces the entrance into the temple. We are not allowed to go inside, there is morning worship going on.
We learn of the Iraivan Temple, the crown jewel of the monastery, and decide to come back for the free guided 90 minute tour. The temple was hand carved in India by master stone masons and transported to Kauai where resident artisans from India are piecing together the 3,000 blocks of stone.
The front monastery area is open daily from 9 a.m. to noon for self-guided tours. You may arrange a guided tour of the monastery grounds; call toll free 1-888-735-1619.
Saint Sambandar dances in the sacred pool called Temple Tank