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Sri Venkateswara Temple

Three Rivers

Sri Venkateswara Temple

Location Details

PHONE: 412-373-3380 ext 105 for front desk
ADDRESS: 1230 South McCully Drive
Penn Hills, PA 15235
HOURS: Mon-Thur, Sat & Sun 9am-7pm; Fri 9am-8:30pm; additional Summer hours


The Sri Venkateswara Temple has an open-door policy. Its mem-bers welcome guests interested in learning about Hinduism and Pittsburgh’s South Asian community, exploring the environs of the temple or sampling the cuisine offered in the self-serve cafeteria.

Located in Penn Hills, the S.V. Temple is modeled after the Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India. Completed in the 1980s, it was one of the first Hindu temples built in the United States. More than $925,000 was raised for its construction, primarily from first-generation Indian immigrants longing for a familiar place of worship in their new homeland.

One of the temple’s distinguishing features is its two entryways. The side door is used most frequently, while the imposing Rajagopuram entrance is reserved for special occasions. Inside, both members and visitors must remove their shoes.

Guests are then asked to follow the Hindu custom of proceeding to the left and exiting from the right. This is done because clockwise circumambulation (to circle on foot as part of a ritual) is held to be favorable in the Hindu religion. In Hinduism, belief and lifestyle are intertwined. For example, physical purity is important for it is believed to mirror mental cleanliness. Consequently, devotees must bathe before coming to the temple. (Visitors, how-ever, are not required to do so.)

Arranged on two levels, the main temple is a square within a square. The lower level takes visitors around the corridor where the vahanas (animal figures) are stored. The upper level, accessible via stairs leading to double glass doors, is the Mahamandapam (Great Hall).

While touring the temple, visitors may notice brown paper bags of fruit placed around the Temple. These are gifts to God. Staff member Latha Bhagavatula explains, “When you go to somebody’s house, you don’t go empty-handed. Same here. Back home in India, people bring their own fruits. But here, we make it convenient.”

Six priests perform all rituals at S. V. Temple. On special occasions, additional priests come from other temples — some even from India. The priest acts as a liaison between god and the worshipper, and learns chanting God and other skills from a very young age. When a priest is not occupied, he (or anyone else in the office) will gladly answer questions from visitors. Self-guided tour booklets also are available.

Sri Venkateswara Temple has a self-serve cafeteria open to everyone. During the week, it offers a standard fare of tamarind rice (rice with spices and nuts) and yogurt rice (rice blended with spices, yogurt, and buttermilk). Snacks like sweet bhoondi (made from lentil powder and sugar) and spicy mixer (a combination of lentil powder, nuts, and paprika) are also available. On Saturdays, the meals are more varied and elaborate.

Visitors may wonder why the S. V. Temple is so open to non-Hindus. According to Bhagavatula, the answer is simple: Since God is universal, everyone is welcome. “We are proud to be associated with the Pittsburgh community since 1976,” says Board Chairman Venkat Venkataraman. Adds Board Secretary Parandham Koduri, “We look forward to a bright future with many more accomplishments in the next generation.”

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