Temple

Name: ISKCON Laguna Beach.

Address: Sri Sri Panca Tattva Mandir, 285 Legion Street, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

Phone: (949) 494-7029

Website: lagunatemple.com

Presiding Deities: Panca-Tattva, Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati and Srila Prabhupada.

President: Tukarama Dasa

Opened on: The current temple was launched on Gaura Purnima 1980, although ISKCON has had a presence in Laguna since 1968.

Temple Style: A converted two-storey former Baptist church, built in the1930s, with high vaulted ceilings. Marble floors and an ornate wooden altar have replaced the baptismal tub, while early ISKCON paintings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Radha-Krishna adorn the walls.

Location: The temple is located in Laguna Beach, Orange County, on the main freeway from Los Angeles to San Diego, and one hour’s drive from each. The beach, one block away, is visible from the temple’s lovely brick patio, and the weather’s as close to perfect as you can get.

Close enough to LA to be easily accessible, yet remote enough to feel like a retreat, Laguna Beach was the chosen spot for Hollywood celebs back in the day to unwind on the weekend. It’s still an extremely popular vacation destination—the small town’s 30,000 population doubles in the summer. And it continues to be an artists’ haven, just as it has been for the past 100 years, with at least fifty galleries and large art festivals held regularly.

What it’s known for: Besides its beautiful location, ISKCON Laguna Beach has the only Pancha Tattva Deities in the Continental US (excluding Hawaii). Meanwhile its festivals throughout the year feature some of the most energetic kirtan and sumptuous feasts you’ll find, delivered with a uniquely heartwarming service attitude. Chief amongst these is Laguna’s regional Maha Gaura Purnima festival in honor of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, held a week after Gaura Purnima Day and attended by devotees from all over Southern California and beyond.

Number of residents: While the temple does not have residential quarters, 50 to 100 devotees living close by make up ISKCON Laguna’s core crew.

Number of visitors: A diverse mix of professionals, college students, local folk and members of Orange County’s Indian community attend the temple, including around 200 at Sunday Feasts and 25-50 at the weekly Friday Bhagavad-gita class.

Best time of year to visit: ISKCON Laguna’s Maha Gaura Purnima Festival, held a week after Gaura Purnima (late February, early March) is unmissable. Besides that, the weather is to die for year around, and summer is an especially popular time to visit.