Temple Connect is a virtual platform for information created to document, educate, promote, share, celebrate and encourage every spiritual element related to temples. Giresh Kulkarni, founder of Temple Connect, was in Nepal recently visiting different religious places in the country and meeting with the management teams of several temples to work out different strategies and alliances for his venture Temple Connect. New Business Age caught up with Kulkarni to talk about Temple Connect and his business plans for Nepal among others. Excerpts:
Tell us about Temple Connect.
Temple Connect is an online gateway for the spiritual world. Temple Connect documents, digitises and distributes information about most Hindu devotional and spiritual places as its content media. For it, we have tie-ups with temples all over the world. The management teams of temples send us information and videos about their festivities, rituals and devotional events such as aarati that we post through our website and social media sites.
We have visitors from 52 countries, some 450,000 followers and daily eight million views on our websites which increases during the time of festivals. Our effort has bridged the gap between the devotee and temples and has also helped in tourism promotion.
Around 12 years ago, we had organised an international convention of temples where a number of temples participated including the Pashupatinath Temple. From then, we have been growing our network internationally.
What are your strategies for the Nepali market?
Nepal is a big market that we want to enter. We are happy to say that we are already strategically tied-up with some travel companies here. We want to make more partnerships because travel tourism and hospitality is an important part of our journey as well and will encourage more travellers from all over the world to visit Nepal. Likewise, we are also in touch with the large companies here that deal in ‘rudrakshya’ and ‘shaligram’ to set up sales counters around temples.
How Temple Connect is different from conventional ways of pilgrimage?
We are not a travel agency and we are not doing any tourism-centric activities. We are more inclined to share authentic information with people that is provided by the temples themselves. There are no domains that only talk about temples. You will see daily updates about rituals, prayers and abhisheks that happen at various temples. We also document them and run it in YouTube. It’s a platform for information sharing and creation of transaction between temples and devotees.
What are the features of Temple Connect?
We have developed a mobile app ‘Temple Connect’ which allows access to daily information about temples and their activities. We have variety of information on temples worldwide and festivals that are celebrated there. When you visit our website, you can see a list of temples and their prayer offerings. It also enables you to carry out puja at your desired temple. We will charge a certain amount of fee and the temple will perform a puja on your behalf.
Who are your target customers?
Everyone and anyone who believes in God and in the religion of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism are our target customers. We are also useful for pilgrims and people who have devotional cultural interest in these topics. We have maximum number of visitors who fall in the age group of 21 to 37 where most of them are males. It’s a myth that only senior citizens prefer visiting temples. We have more than 18,000 followers from Nepal alone.
In a country with a large religious population like India where people are already engaged in pilgrimage since ages, how do you see the prospects of digital pilgrimage platform like yours?
Not everyone might be in a position to travel due to different individual circumstances. Temple Connect is a virtual space that allows people to visit temples and also enable them to offer puja and other rituals. Our cultural roots are so strong that people definitely want to visit temples. Similarly, non-Hindus can get useful information and plan their trips accordingly.