Malibu Hindu Temple: A Spiritual Mecca In The Mountains

Pyramid-like tower at the Malibu Hindu Temple
Pyramid-like tower at the Malibu Hindu Temple | Courtesy of Josh McNair,
Stephen Cooper

The Malibu Hindu Temple, located in California, is believed to be one of the better examples of Hindu architecture anywhere outside of the Asian subcontinent.
Writing for, Tom Kisken notes that the temple is ‘modeled after the Sri Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati, India – an ancient sanctuary of such significance that some call it the Hindu Vatican. To replicate the original, the Malibu structure’s sculpted towers were built by artisans from India as sort of stone storybooks with deities and scenes revealing the history of Hinduism.’

Exterior view of the Malibu Hindu Temple

Describing in greater detail the jaw-dropping majesty of the sprawling and otherworldly temple grounds, a reviewer for Atlas Obscura wrote that the temple ‘exists in honor of the Hindu god Venkateswara, though it contains altars within dedicated to other Hindu deities. An expansive subterranean room provides space for services and recitals of complex Indian traditional music. An incense-laced marble-laden sanctuary dedicated to Shiva features tiered chandeliers and multiple mandirs for other gods. An outdoor deck above features more murtis in individual shrines, and an elevated central temple stands in veneration of the temple’s namesake.

Elevated central temple dedicated to Lord Venkateswara

At page 86 of his treatise, Religions of the World (Macmillan Publishing Company 1991), Lewis M. Hopfe describes Hinduism as ‘[p]erhaps the oldest and most complex of all the religions of the world.’ Focusing on the religion’s characteristic tolerance, Hopfe writes: ‘Hinduism allows for literally millions of major and minor gods, their temples and their priests. Therefore, for the Hindu, the possible religious views are virtually infinite.’

An elephant sculpted onto a small stairway at the temple is a symbol of spiritual strength

Walking barefoot on the cool and immaculately clean marble floor of the temple complex (visitors must remove their shoes at the entrance, though socks are optional), the smell of incense wafts sweetly through the air, instilling visitors with the temple’s calming, soothing aura. A common sight on the temple grounds are the polite and gregarious priests – all of whom come from India – and live full-time at the temple complex; the priests go about their daily activities and devotions to the temple’s deities during the day and do not interact with guests unless asked questions, or for a tour – or unless a visitor pays for a specific ‘puja’ (a prayer service) to be performed.

Hollywood being just thirty minutes from the Malibu Hindu Temple (in good traffic), prospective visitors won’t be surprised to learn that a number of celebrities, including pop singer Brittany Spears and Beach Boy Mike Love, have patronized the temple, each paying the priests for a variety of pujas. Additionally, the temple’s stunning grounds were ‘featured in the 1997 Chris Farley film Beverly Hills Ninja and [in a]1998 Tamil film,’ a popular Bollywood movie called Jeans.

On weekdays, the temple is open to visitors between 9 am and 12:30 pm, and also, between 5 and 8 pm (though in the winter, the temple closes to the public at 7 pm); on the weekend, visiting hours are between 8 am and 7 pm.

On weekends, a kitchen in the temple’s basement level serves up tasty and cheaply priced vegetarian fare paired with strong chai tea.

The temple does not charge an entry fee but donations are both accepted and appreciated. Photographing the exterior of the temple and its grounds is permissible, however no photography is allowed inside the various individual shrines within the temple complex.

1600 Las Virgenes Canyon Road, Calabasas CA 91302 +1 818 880 5552

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article