A Community’s Devotion Slowly Comes to Focus, One Phase at a Time


By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON:  Visible from the Sam Houston Tollroad, right across from the Sam Houston Racepark, the site of the Sikh National Center has slowly taken shape over the past 15 years, as donated funds have been collected. In the past two years, the steel structure of the main gurdwara has risen from the ground and the exterior walls have taken shape.

Now, according to the latest pictures taken by a drone, the exterior cladding of the building is almost complete and the white façade outlines the silhouette of the 38,000 sf, two-story building that will serve as a beacon to Sikhs in the greater Houston area. The façade work will be completed in another month and the cast stone, marble tile inlays and window glazing is expected to be done by mid-summer, as well as an expansion of the parking lot.

When completed, the gurdwara will have a prayer hall for 900 people, a large commercial kitchen, langar hall, offices, a meeting room for 50 people, a 2-bedroom apartment for the resident priest and 2 hotel rooms for visiting guests and VIPs.

SNC 1in

“So far, we have built everything with donations from the sangat (congregation),” said Harjit Singh Galhotra who has been heavily involved with the building committee. “We haven’t taken out any loans and need to raise another $4 to 5 million to complete the entire project.” The committee also consists of Hardam Singh Azad, Gurcharan Singh and Manohar Singh Mann and is headed by Gurmeet Singh Saini and Bhupinder Singh.

Although the building is shelled in and the exterior work is complete, the interior fit out still remains to be started; including electrical and air conditioning work, waiting on more funds to be collected. A square metal lid covers the place where the main dome will sit and the landscape work will be completed in the last phase.

The gurdwara is located on the Sikh National Center’s 20-acre site north of Beltway 8 between Gessner and Fairbanks-North Houston. It is to form the nucleus of an ambitious master-planned center that would include a boarding school, auditorium, museum, library, pavilion and residence for priests. The site already has a covered basketball pavilion and two other structures that function as the make-shift gurdwara and Sunday school. Large community events have been held over the years, like a Sports Day, anniversary functions of the Gurus and the annual Baisakhi mela in April to help in raising awareness of the project and raise funds.