Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: Botswana, the South African country known for its great wilderness appeal, is also home to 5,000 Indian families, including 150 Telugu families.

That the Indian Diaspora has a strong presence in South Africa is amply reflected in the number of Hindu temples all over the Zulu lands, be it at Johannesburg, Durban, Harare, Nairobi, Lagos or Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. The South Africa Sri Siva Subramanium Alayam at Clairwood, Durban is all of 120 years old!

Unique venture

Telugus in Gaborone and others parts of Botswana, most of whom had migrated from the State several decades ago, have embarked on a unique venture -- to build a Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple on the lines of the famed hill temple at Tirumala for the spiritual needs of the Hindu community there.

The Botswana Hindu Charities Trust had started the project in May 2001 at Gasome village in Gaborone West with donations from the entire Telugu populace there and 70 per cent of the works are over. "This is our big dream and we hope to translate it into reality at the earliest," its founder trustee V.S. Nanduri and other office bearers said at a press conference here.

Traditional architecture

"The temple is being constructed in accordance with the traditional temple architecture. The arch works are going on and we roped in the famous temple architect from Chennai, Padmashri Muttiah Sthapathi, who was instrumental in the construction of 14 temples, including some in the United States. We also brought in master craftsmen and artisans for the construction of Rajagopuram and Vimanam."

On a trip to their motherland on a fund raising mission for the temple, they said the Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanams (TTD) had promised to extend all assistance for the early completion of the temple.

Gaborone already has two Hindu temples -- one popular as the Hindu hall and the other Shiva-Vishnu temple at Selebe-Phikwe.