Talk about feeling transported. No one would expect this temple to rise up out of the fields of suburban New Jersey. The temple is located 45 miles from Center City, in Robbinsville, New Jersey. Built as a Hindu place of worship, it is also a community center that is welcoming to visitors- who are welcome to view and participate in the variety of ceremonies that take place each day (see daily schedule). The mandir is a spectacular piece of art/architecture (no photos allowed inside) with 13,499 pieces of Italian marble hand-carved in India, all with religious significance (try to find all 91 uniquely carved elephants, representing resolve, grace, and nobility).
Practicalities: visiting is free, and personal guides or an audio guide are available. Shoes need to be removed before entering the mandir and stored in the shoe room (women to the left, men to the right). No exposed knees or shoulders (wraps are available for both sexes in the shoe rooms). There is a guard booth before the entrance to the parking area, but just tell them you are there to visit and they will direct you to the correct parking lot.
There is a gift shop and cafe with (tasty and inexpensive) hot and cold vegetarian snacks. We had a delicious, cheap lunch of samosas, mango lassis and several vegetable dishes.
Field trips: Our group really enjoyed a trip here the year we were studying comparative religion. They are happy to schedule group visits, which are free and include a personal guide- who is available to explain both the temple itself and Hinduism, answer questions, and guide you through the various ceremonies.