One room prayer hall in ’60, towering Dubai shrine now – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Many rags-to-riches prayers were answered in Vasu Shroff’s one-room temple since he arrived in Dubai in 1960 as a youth full of dreams. Now, after a life full of toil and tenacity, the 82-year-old has gifted Dubai a 70,000-sq feet marvel.
The Dubai Hindu Temple in Jebel Ali area stands as a monument to the entrepreneurphilanthropist’s hard work, prayers and contributions of the Indian community, says Vasu’s son Raju, a trustee of the temple.
According to Raju, rather than calling it Shiva or Krishna or Durga temple, the committee named it Dubai Hindu Temple as it has 16 prayer rooms, each devoted to a deity. The sprawling structure is a place of worship for followers of all Hindu sects, not just one, says Raju, a Harvard and London Business School alumnus. It will allow entry to people of all faiths.
The Dubai Hindu Temple has come a long way from its one-room predecessor, Guru Darbar Sindhi Temple, in the Bur Dubai area. Vasu’s brother Vikyomal Shroff and his brother-in-law Ramachandran Sawlani had set it up in 1958. Vasu came in 1960, became part of the managing committee in 1961 and has been heading it since 1973.
That was the time when the desert Emirate barely had any facilities to speak of. Forget glitzy buildings, there were no proper roads and electricity. With time, Dubai grew into a desert wonderland, a booming tourism and trading hub that drew hordes of Indians. Vasu, too, became successful as his Regal Group’s textiles, real estate and technology forays made him one of the richest Indian-origin businessmen. “We were among the earliest Indian settlers in Dubai,” says Raju.
That small temple became alandmark, a Dubai mascot for the thriving and swelling Indian community. Vasu then requested authorities for a bigger piece of land for the temple. In 2019, the Community Development Authority of Dubai allotted land in the Jebel Ali area. Ground-breaking ceremony were held in 2020, a year went into the planning and, after two years of construction, the temple is now finally open to the public.
While the marble is from Makrana in Rajasthan and idols are from various parts of India, the design has manyMashrabiya elements, lending the unique structure an “Arabesque” look, says architect Subhash Bhoite, who has spent 45 years working on 124 temple projects.
“The temple is a marriage of Indian temple design with Arabian architecture. It is a reflection of our lives, how we made successful businesses here while continuing with our faith,” Raju says.
“Despite Covid, construction timelines were not hampered because of the Dubai government’s support. The temple is truly a remarkable icon of how receptive and compassionate the Dubai government is,” says Raju. The area around the temple is a living example of Dubai’s pluralism — it has seven churches and a gurdwara. Raju says the vicinity is now fondly referred to as “Worship Village”.
Having played a stellar innings in temple projects across the world, Vasu hopes to score a century: help set up 100 temples in his lifetime.





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