For over fifteen years, the Shri Shiva Vishnu temple has been an important place of worship for the Hindu community of Victoria. Nestled in a calm and peaceful area of Carrum Downs, the temple is a 40-minute drive from Melbourne CBD.
The building construction started in 1986 and the first prayer meeting or Mahakumbabhishekam was held in 1994; and ever since the temple has had a devout following of thousands of worshippers. The temple structure is inspired by the ancient Indian style of Dravidian architecture. There are individual edifices within the main temple devoted to various Indian deities.
All the idols are draped in traditional South Indian garments and adorned with stunningly crafted jewels and crowns. The entire temple is redolent of exotic fragrances. Ethereal melodies and hymns in classical Indian music are played constantly within the complex.
There are apropos prayer rituals conducted daily by the temple priests. You can join the same at all times and even offer to have a special prayer conducted in your name by picking an offering thaali (platter) from the counter for $11. It consists of fresh flowers and fruits - the traditional Indian offerings used during prayer rituals. The priests conduct the rite by chanting anthemic prayers in Sanskrit and hand the tray back as 'prashad' - a token of God's blessings.
The whole place has a reverent feel about it and you cannot escape being stimulated by the tranquillity in the air. A trip to this sanctum sanctorum is a good way to spend a peaceful evening and learn about a different culture.
The HSV (Hindu Society of Victoria) organises community celebrations, within the temple complex, on the occasion of all the significant Hindu festivals. The calendar of events is available at the counter; there are also regular listings of upcoming activities and functions. To get a glimpse of the festivities, you can check out the various picture galleries.
The HSV also runs a canteen within the temple premises, which specialises in authentic South Indian vegetarian food. The canteen operates on Fridays between 5pm to 9pm, Saturdays between 10am to 1pm and 5pm to 9pm and on Sundays between 9:30am to 1pm and 5pm to 8pm.
Before heading back, you must make a pit-stop at Vel Spices and Kitchen, a stone's throw from the temple complex. It's a grocery store-cum-cafe; specialising in South Indian food. You can enjoy a serving of dosa (crisp rice crepe served with sambhar and chutney) for under $5. Also worth sampling is idli (steamed rice dumpling) and all variations of dosa. The food is simply delicious and quite low-priced. To check the cafe timings, call (03) 9782 8611.