Giresh Kulkarni

In an exclusive interaction with Travel And Tour World, Giresh Kulkarni, Founder, Temple Connect & International Temple Convention & Expo (ITCX) shares how Temple Connect- International Temples Convention and Expo (ICTX) is highlighting ancient Oriental tradition harmonising with modern acumen and where knowledge is shared, and lives transformed.

Travel And Tour World: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the Temple Connect- International Temples Convention and Expo (ICTX) and how it aims to address the management of temples globally?

Giresh Kulkarni: Delving into the depths of my inspiration, my journey through the intricate tapestry of temples has spanned over 18 years. This profound exploration acquainted me with the multifaceted needs of the temple ecosystem. In this voyage of spiritual discovery, I encountered fellow seekers, delving into the realms of modern technology, security, disaster management, sustainability, and the intricate nuances of managing funds. Amid this diverse spectrum of needs, a compelling thought took root within me – the infusion of corporate acumen into the temple ecosystem. In this vast tapestry, many temples stand individually, lacking the structured support that extends beyond government-regulated or charity-driven institutions. The realization dawned that a guiding hand was missing. This fusion of my experience in event management, brand strategy, and my unyielding passion for all things temple-related, germinated the seed for ITCX. This event emerged as a formal platform, where my passion converged with the intricacies of event management, birthing an interface where knowledge, experience, and profound insights converge.


Our vision for ITCX was nothing short of revolutionary – to foster a rich exchange where temple management transcends the ordinary, soaring towards new horizons of knowledge and experience. The convention served as the nexus for temples, irrespective of their sizes, to break barriers and learn from each other. Here, smaller temples glean insights from the more substantial counterparts, shaping a collective growth narrative. It’s in this interaction that a dynamic fusion occurs – smaller temples absorbing wisdom from their larger counterparts, and larger temples benefiting from the expertise of topic specialists and brand mavericks. This symphony of shared knowledge forms the heartbeat of temple-dependent ecosystems.


Temple ecosystems encompass more than the sacred space – they intricately weave the fabric of the city or town they inhabit. Think of the sacred locales like Kumbakonam, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Varanasi, Ganpatipule, the Ashtavinayak circuit, Jyotirlinga sthan, or the revered Shakti-Peeths. These spiritual havens transcend mere destinations; they are the lifeblood of the local economy. Devotees who journey to these places embark on a holistic experience – they lodge, dine, explore, and contribute, infusing vitality into the very economy that nurtures these temples. The cycle completes with temples gaining resources to foster better charity, upliftment, and purpose-driven initiatives.


In the essence of ITCX, a revolution thrives. It’s a tapestry where ancient tradition harmonizes with modern acumen, where knowledge is shared, and lives transformed. The symphony continues, resonating in the empowerment of temples, and the communities they sustain.



Travel And Tour World:  With your extensive experience in media, brand communications, and live events, how do you envision the Temple Connect (ICTX) platform contributing to the development and growth of the temple tourism industry?

Giresh Kulkarni: My diverse background has afforded me valuable insights, enabling a deeper understanding of the temple tourism landscape. In the context of temple tourism, pivotal factors converge to drive progress. Foremost, fostering heightened temple awareness stands as a linchpin. Amplified awareness invariably translates into increased pilgrim footfall. The influx of devotees, in turn, precipitates a multiplier effect, engendering a surge in transactions and economic activities within the temple-dependent ecosystem.


Concurrently, platforms such as ITCX embody a transformative initiative. Exemplified by ITCX, these platforms function as catalysts to champion grassroots growth. They not only spotlight temples already ensconced within the public eye but also extend their focus to temples that may have remained veiled in obscurity. A quintessential example emerges with Goa — renowned globally for its scenic beaches and vibrant festivities. However, beneath this popular veneer resides an uncharted realm of temples. Do you know Goa is also known as Bhagawan Parashuram’s Bhomi? Do you know there are more temples in Goa than even the number of churches? Do you know There is a huge history of temples, their placement, and the way locals safeguarded the temples and the murtis? And there is a humongous heritage to the Goan culture which reflects the devotional side of Goa as well. There is a huge community which is of the Gore, Saraswat Brahman and the huge follower base of temples like Mangesh Devasthan, Tambdi Surla, Nageshi Devasthan, Shantadurga, Kamakshi Devasthan where Goa is extremely wealthy with this element of the temple and the temple ecosystem.


Through strategic collaborations between entities like Temple Connect and the Goa Tourism Board, Goa’s latent temple tourism potential finds global resonance. This synergy heralds a potent alignment between state initiatives and fervent promotion, echoing the rich tapestry of Goa’s temple heritage on the global stage. The paradigm shift thus envisions a holistic blend of tourism and devotion. By intertwining these strands, the spotlight amplifies lesser-known pilgrimage destinations, enabling their transformation into thriving hubs of temple tourism. Ultimately, it is through such proactive initiatives, underscored by targeted promotion, that we can unleash the untapped potential of temple tourism, shaping a trajectory of prosperity and cultural enrichment.




Travel And Tour World:  What are some of the key challenges that temples face in terms of management and sustainability, and how does Temple Connect (ICTX) seek to address these challenges through its initiatives?

Giresh Kulkarni: The inception of the International Temple Convention and Expo (ITCX) stems from Temple Connect’s well-established network of temples. This network identified a critical need for temples to converge, connect, and mutually learn. The annual convention serves as a powerful conduit for fostering this vital alignment. While ITCX excels in reinforcing existing temples, Temple Connect embarked on an ambitious endeavor known as the Smart Temples mission. This mission, intrinsic to Temple Connect’s ethos, confronts an array of challenges head-on. These encompass safety, security, disaster management, efficient fund allocation, sustainable practices, water management, crowd dynamics, user interfaces, parking solutions, signage systems, enhancing visitor experiences, and instituting expert-driven feedback mechanisms. Central to Temple Connect’s strategy is to engineer a seamless interaction between temples and the general public. This interaction centers around scrutinizing, disseminating, and actualizing innovative concepts. Through the Smart Temples mission, Temple Connect champions an orchestrated collaboration between experts and everyday individuals, thereby devising solutions to enhance temple systems. The mission blueprint entails a standardized framework designed to cater to various temple scales and requirements.


Now, while iconic temples like Tirupati Balaji, Golden Temple, and Siddhivinayak Temple boast the resources and expertise to manage such facets, smaller temples might struggle with the financial and operational burden. In light of this, Temple Connect envisions a concept of “Adopt a Temple.” This entails merging initiatives to support less-endowed temples or bolster the upkeep of existing ones. These initiatives become a cornerstone for nurturing and revitalizing the temple ecosystem. The spectrum extends to temples seeking to create anew or mend existing structures. As the founder of Temple Connect, I personally feel that Temple Connect’s role pivots to facilitate opportunities and authentic donor connections to buoy these ventures. This ambition cascades into realigning temples with the ethos they embody, helping them thrive and rekindle their sacred purpose.


In essence, forums like ITCX act as congregational hubs where ideas converge, insights are shared, and visionary strategies are unveiled. The synergy generated within these international temple conventions fosters a dynamic feedback loop. Ideas incubated in these interactions spiral outward to influence the global temple landscape, ultimately nurturing a thriving temple ecosystem.





Travel And Tour World: Could you share some insights into the significance of temple tourism and its potential for promoting cultural exchange and spiritual exploration among travelers?

Giresh Kulkarni: When discussing spiritual exploration, a crucial perspective that I frequently highlight is the distinction between devotion and spirituality. This distinction lies in the realms of the external and the internal. Devotion encompasses external practices such as rituals, puja, temple visits, and other ceremonial aspects. Conversely, spirituality pertains to the internal journey involving meditation, yoga, mantra recitation, pranayama, and personal affirmations. The crux lies in understanding the seekers’ individual needs—whether they seek engagement with external rituals or an internal voyage towards self-awareness. The tourism landscape is evolving to cater to these diverse needs. From pilgrim destinations like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Mahabaleshwar, Goa, and Pondicherry, to the offerings of organizations like the Art of Living and ISHA Foundation, spiritual classes and retreats have become prominent. These experiences empower individuals to embark on a journey of self-discovery and personal growth, hinged on their spiritual aspirations. State tourism bodies play an active role in promoting and facilitating these initiatives to attract travelers seeking such transformative encounters.


In Temple Connect, our central focus revolves around enhancing temple management, administration, and operational aspects. While our primary endeavor is to support the temple ecosystem, we also recognize the value of aligning with existing spiritual and wellness initiatives. Our aim is to complement the efforts of those already immersed in the spiritual tourism arena. Whenever our community of devotees and temple enthusiasts seeks guidance in navigating these diverse avenues, we’re committed to facilitating their journey by directing them toward the resources that best suit their needs.


In essence, the realms of temple tourism and spiritual exploration converge, both offering unique and transformative experiences to travelers. Whether it’s the immersive experience of participating in rituals or the inward journey of self-awareness, the tourism landscape has expanded to nurture the diverse aspirations of seekers from around the world. At Temple Connect, we stand as a bridge, aiding individuals in their pursuit of spiritual enrichment through an array of avenues available to them.



Travel And Tour World: As the founder of Temple Connect (ICTX), what are your future plans and aspirations for the event and its impact on the temple management community worldwide?

Giresh Kulkarni: In my capacity as the founder of Temple Connect and creator of the International Temples Convention (ITCX), my future plans and aspirations for this initiative are deeply rooted in the mission of seamlessly integrating ancient wisdom with modern technological advancements. Temple Connect’s core focus remains on the intricate domain of temple administration, operations, and management, all with the paramount objective of preserving and sharing the spiritual and devotional heritage for generations to come. The crux of our efforts lies in enhancing awareness and understanding the immense value embedded in this subject matter. The integration of these invaluable data points into the daily functioning of temples, regardless of their scale, stands as a fundamental goal. The trajectory of Temple Connect’s journey extends beyond the biennial International Temple Convention. We are fervently involved in organizing Temple Connect meetings across various cities and international locales. These gatherings function as bridges between the offerings of Temple Connect and the requirements of the local temple ecosystems. These city-specific interactions are marked by hashtags, exemplified by instances such as Temple Connect Meets #Varanasi, Temple Connect Meets #Haridwar, and so forth. These meetings galvanize temple leaders, pilgrims, influencers, and a diverse spectrum of individuals. This practice not only forges stronger connections but also enriches our network of registered participants, amplifying the value proposition on a larger scale.


A pioneering endeavor that Temple Connect has embarked upon is the Temple Connect Census—a comprehensive survey aimed at cataloging temples in India and on an international scale. This initiative generates real-time data that serves as a crucial foundation for our mission. By creating a tangible census, we hope to address the dearth of organized and up-to-date temple-related data, facilitating informed decisions and effective management.


Ultimately, my role as the founder encapsulates a profound belief in the power of spirituality. Temple Connect represents a journey towards harmonizing age-old wisdom with contemporary convenience. With a resolute dedication, we aspire to create a robust platform that transcends temporal boundaries, fostering a seamless connection between the profound teachings of antiquity and the evolving requirements of the modern world.



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