Cruise down McLean Road south of Pearland and you’ll encounter something unexpected. Palatial in structure with architecture common in southern India, the Sri Meenakshi Temple is the only one of its kind outside of India dedicated to Meenakshi, the goddess of marriage. Beyond being a notable religious center, the temple offers a captivating way to discover and experience Hindu culture. Read on to see just a few reasons why you should expand your own boundaries by visiting the Sri Meenakshi Temple. 

Travel Tip: Get the most out of your visit with this self-guided tour guide, which you can download or pick up at the temple. Set aside at least 90 minutes to complete the tour. 

The Temple is an Architectural Wonder

Gleaming white walls, towers laden with intricate sculptures and a courtyard enclosed by gleaming white walls. Travel through all 670 square miles of the Houston area and you won’t find many places that look like the Sri Meenakshi Temple. Step inside and you’ll feel as if you’re in southern India. Admire the majestic gopurams, carved columns and intricate stonework of the Main Temple as you enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. 

The temple is adorned with granite imported from India, and it was built to be an exact replica of the Sree Meenakshi Temple in Madurai. All told, there are 16 gods and goddesses celebrated at the Sri Meenakshi Temple, and you’ll see their shrines and get to know them as you explore the temple complex. 

You’ll Experience a New Culture

Unless you’re a practitioner of the faith, it’s not often you get an up-close look at the oldest religion in the world. Your journey begins as you enter the central courtyard, passing through a gateway under the complex’s tallest gopuram. Step inside the Main Temple, home to four shrines dedicated teo Shiva, Meenakshi, Vishnu, and Lakshmi. Watch as someone presents an offering of jewelry, fruit or flowers, and take a moment of your own to mediate. 

Find your way back to the courtyard to see the vibrant chalk art (kolam), a distinctive South-Indian style of painting that utilizes geometrical lines and curved loops drawn around a gripd pattern of dots. In the Ayyappa Sanctum, you’ll see The Holy 18 Steps that can only be ascended by those who have taken the 41 days of penance. Travel outside the temple walls to see the national bird of India in the Peacock Santcuar, just one of the many other things you can see at the temple. 

Although you can visit the temple dvery day of the year, kyou won’t want to miss out on such major events as the Chithirai Mahotsavam festival in April and Diwali in October. 

You Can Taste South Indian Cuisine

There are few better expressions of culture than food, and you won’t have to go far to sample the many flavors of South India. Visit during the weekend to sample the many flavors of southern India, as the Visitor Center’s cafeteria serves such authentic vegetarian dishes as samosas, tamarind rice and masala dosa. You’ll need tokens to purchase any of the food, which you can get in the Visitor Center. Browse the library after you eat, then stop by the Carriage House, where you might see the chariot used for the parade of gods during the temple’s annual celebrations. 

What to Know Before You Go

The Sri Meenakshi Temple is not just one of the Houston area’s top cultural attractions, it’s a place of worship. With that in mind, there are a few things you should do when you visit so you can show respect to the temple and deities. Always wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, and make sure to take off your shoes before entering the Main Temple and the inner sactums. When you first enter the temple, head left and continue your way through in a clock-wise direction. As for photos, while you can take them you should do so discreetly. Follow these simple rules and you’ll have a great time in the temple. 

Although the temple is one of Pearland’s top places to visit, it is by no means all there is to see and do here. Get outdoors at the Delores Fenwick Nature Center or the Shadow Creek Ranch Nature Trail, tip back and pint of craft beer at Vallensons’ Brewing Company, and indulge in the local dining scene. Stay in one of our many hotels and yo’ll start each day just a short drive away from the very best of Houston and the Gulf Coast.