Srila Prabhupada visited South Africa in October 1975. At the time, there were sanctions on Indian nationals entering the country but after much endeavour and determination, the few devotees here were able to arrange his visit. He spent three weeks visiting Durban and Johannesburg were he spoke at the universities, met with professors, spoke at programmes in Durban City Hall and Pietermaritzburg City Hall, to name a few. While in Durban he instructed his disciples to construct a magnificent temple in Durban and to have a Ratha-yatra festival.
Taking Srila Prabhupada’s instruction seriously, the building of the Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple began in 1980. A dedicated team of devotees worked tirelessly in the face of formidable challenges, including the then apartheid regime. With a deep desire to fulfil their spiritual master’s order, the devotees persevered and sourced the best materials for the construction. Marble tiles where imported from Portugal and oak wood from Japan. Devotees formed their own construction company and used their talents and expertise to make the design a reality, engaging in every aspect of construction – from excavation, brick-laying, plastering, tiling, painting, to mirror work, intricate carvings and gold-leafing. Devotees crossed the length and breadth of South Africa selling oil paintings, handmade decorative candles and high quality incense in order to raise the funds to build the temple. The doors of the Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple were officially opened on 18 October 1985.
The Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple has been acclaimed as an architectural masterpiece. The geometric design seamlessly fuses Vedic and modern architecture. The ancient vastu purusha mandala formula is imbibed in the design with shapes such as circles, triangles, squares and octagons, holding numerous spiritual symbolisms and philosophical meanings.
Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple is the largest Radha-Krishna temple in the southern hemisphere and one that is opened 365 days of the year. It is interesting to note that during the concept and design of the temple some devotees felt that the temple was too large. They doubted that the space will be filled with visitors and devotees. Today, during festivals, the temple overflows and often the bridge is filled with queuing worshippers.
The standard of worship to the presiding Deities, Sri Sri Radha Radhanath, Lord Caitanya and Sri Giriraj are luxuriously opulent; the highest to be experienced in the southern hemisphere. The Deities are gorgeously dressed twice daily and adorned with fresh flower garlands. Each year at least fifteen new elaborately decorated outfits, either made locally or sourced from overseas are presented for the Deities’ pleasure. Each day the Deities are offered seven sumptuous meals. This service has gone on uninterrupted for almost twenty eight years.
Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple hosts the Love Feast every Sunday at 4pm in the Summer and at 3pm in the Winter. There are gatherings every alternate Wednesday at 7pm, Eco Awareness Children’s days and much more. We now also have a magnificent temple in Phoenix and over 30 weekly meeting in areas all over KwaZulu Natal.
Durban Festival of Chariots
In the height of the Durban summer of 1988, we hosted the first Festival of Chariots. In the years that followed the festival grew in popularity and devotees brainstormed ideas to improve the festival. In a few years the festival increased in duration reaching four days coinciding with Christmas. In the mid nineties, the festival dates moved from December to the Easter weekend in March/April. Highlights of the festival include: three 4-storey high chariots drawn through the city, international speakers, cultural displays, dance, drama, and of course, chanting of Krishna’s holy names. These events form the foundation of the festival. In 2013, by the gracious involvement of the City of Durban, the festival once again enjoyed the prominent beachfront location. The theme “Culturally Many, Spiritually One” brought all cultures to appreciate and celebrate each other.
Janmastami and Other Festivals
ISKCON hosts festivals for all incarnations of Krishna and great Vaishnava saints. All these festivals are hosted at the Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple, sometimes with marquees erected around the temple property. ISKCON is also famous for serving free vegetarian meals at all celebrations and all ISKCON festivals are free.
The purpose of the Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple is so that anyone and everyone, whether devotee of Krishna or not, can come to the temple and find peace, and fulfilment through a connection with God. We have made it almost impossible for you not to find with us.
50 Bhaktivedanta Swami Circle , Chatsworth
T: 031 4033328
And you can have the temple in the palm of your hand by downloading our free app, ISKCON Durban, available at iStore and Google Play store.