Compiled by Team NRI Pulse with inputs from members of the Indian-American community.
Atlanta, GA: The Indian-American community in metro Atlanta has grown from a mere 100 families in the 1970s to close to 90,000 people in 2015. Today, we are a dynamic, thriving lot firmly entrenched in the Atlanta landscape. Here, we feature 10 Atlanta Indian community hangouts that add diversity to the city’s offerings.
1. The Consulate General of India in Atlanta
Consistent and dedicated efforts and petitions for decades by the Indo-Georgian community leaders, the India-Georgia Friendship Resolution#1248 (Georgia Senate Resolution) supported by mainstream Georgia and the Embassy of India in Washington, DC, all together paid dividends when the Governments of India and USA agreed for a mutually reciprocal opening of Consulates in India and in USA.
The Consulate General of India in Atlanta, which was inaugurated on October 22, 2012 to serve the 300,000-strong Indian-American community in the southeast, is housed in a striking, elegant building in Sandy Springs. Apart from Georgia, the consulate serves the consular needs of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virgin Islands.
2. Life-size Gandhi statue at Martin Luther King Historic Center
The statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the visitor entrance to the Martin Luther King Visitor Center is testimony to the link between two worlds that seek to inspire and learn from each other especially through the messages of peace and non-violence of the two of the greatest icons Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. M.L. King Jr. Closely following the civil rights movement, is the story of the growth and influx of immigrants of Indian origin to Atlanta. But also important is the ground work laid by a handful of Indian families that were part of early migrants.
Earlier in 1983, a request for a Gandhi Room made to the King Center became a reality in 1987 when the Gandhi Room was inaugurated on October 2, 1987 with the memorabilia of Gandhi donated by the Embassy of India and also by Late Coretta Scott King. The same year, Mayor Andrew Young also declared October 2 as Mahatma Gandhi Day in the City of Atlanta. This room was subsequently relocated next door into a larger room in the same Freedom Hall.
On January 24, 1998, a life-size bronze statue sculpted by the famous Indian sculptor, Ram Sutar, was inaugurated by Ambassador Andrew Young with fanfare and excitement. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), an autonomous organization of the Government of India had purchased the statue from Sutar and donated it unconditionally to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site through the Embassy of India in Washington, DC.
The respective birth anniversaries of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King are celebrated at the statue annually by the Gandhi Foundation of USA (GFUSA; a non-profit organization registered in the State of Georgia) along with the King Center and the National Park Service and the Consulate General of India (since 2011). The majestic statue (which is maintained by the National Park Service, US Department of interior with support from the Gandhi Foundation of USA) has been visited by millions over the years and exemplifies respect for diversity through Gandhi-King connection in the City of Atlanta-”a city too busy to hate.”
3. Global Mall
If you want to experience a slice of India, there is no place like AMS Global Mall, the first and largest indoor Indian owned mall in North America. A premier shopping center, Global Mall has over 60 specialty stores ranging from clothing, jewelry, furniture, banking, dining, dancing, tutoring, arts and crafts, make-up professionals, beauty salons, entertainment and much more. More importantly, the mall is also a community hub for business lunches, community events and social gatherings. A major event organized by the mall is the annual Global Mela – a fall festival with rides and other fun activities for children and shopping deals and cultural shows for adults.
4. Hindu Temple of Atlanta, Riverdale
Hindu Temple of Atlanta, incorporated in 1984 and built in 1990, is located in the city of Riverdale near Atlanta, Georgia. The temple is modeled on the Sri Venkateswara temple in Tirupathi in its features such as the sanctum sanctorum, the main hall, the spire and the boundaries.
The temple has two complexes – one with Lord Venkateswara as the presiding deity and the other with Lord Shiva as the presiding deity. In addition to the presiding deity, both complexes have shrines for other deities.
5. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir was inaugurated in August of 2007 after only 17 months of construction time utilizing 1.3 million volunteer hours. The Mandir is comprised of 3 types of stone (Turkish Limestone, Italian marble, and Indian pink sandstone). More than 34,000 individual pieces were carved by hand in India, shipped to the USA and assembled in Lilburn like a giant 3-D puzzle. Some two million man hours of labor have gone into building this house of worship, The stunning 30,000 sq ft temple is now an Atlanta tourist attraction.
6. Ambaji USA Shree Shakti Mandir
Ambaji USA Shree Shakti Mandir was established 1993. The temple offers free Rajbhog Prasad (lunch) at its Annapurna Prasaad Gruh (cafeteria) to visitors at noon everyday. A highlight of this temple is its annual Navratri festival and garba which attracts several thousands of people from Georgia and neighboring states every year.
7. Cherians International Groceries
From humble beginnings, Cherians International Groceries, now operates in a 30,000 sq ft facility on Dekalb Industrial Way as well and a second location in Cumming, Georgia. The store operates both as a wholesaler as well as a retailer and attracts shoppers from all over Georgia and neighboring states.
8. Patel Plaza
Patel Plaza is truly the one-stop destination for shopping, dining and more. A veritable little India, the shiny shopping strip houses the popular Patel Brothers groceries and several restaurants, clothing & jewelry stores and other services. While the original Patel Brothers strip was remodeled recently, new wings were added to accommodate new businesses. If you want the complete Indian experience but are short on time,Patel Plaza is the place visit!
9. SEWA Gurdwara Sahib
SEWA (Sikh Educational Welfare Association Inc) Gurdwara Sahib inRoswellis both a spiritual place of worship and a cultural learning centre for the young budding American Sikhs.
A major outreach program at the Gurdwara is the monthly dinner langar to over 300 people at the Metro Atlanta Taskforce for the Homeless. Volunteers gather at the Gurdwara in the morning to prepare langar consisting of rice, curry, salad, fruit, buns and dessert. Once the dinner is ready, it is transported to the downtown facility for the homeless.
The annual Punjabi cultural mela is a prime event at the Gurdwara.
10. Jain Temple
The Jain Society of Greater Atlanta’s spectacular marble temple in Norcross was built with the support of 400 Jain families. The Pratistha Mahotsav to inaugurate the temple was performed in November 2008. The ceremony was awe-inspiring and was attended by people from all across the country.
The temple architecture is based on Jain tradition, with ornate designs of the shikhar (dome), artistic ceiling panels, a bold medallion design under the rangmandap in the marble floor on the main level and German silver paneled doors with carved Jain motifs. The garbhagrah is a semi circle inlaid with marble idols of all 24 Tirthankaras. There is also a separate meditation room built on the lower level for the devotees who meditate with God’s spirit in mind, void of statue worship.