Those entering Pittsburgh on the Parkway West (I-376) are intrigued by their glimpse of the starkly white Sri Venkateswara Temple on its wooded hillside. It was the first Hindu temple in the United States built by workers from India and modeled after the seventh-century Sri Venkateswara Temple in South India. Constructed of white-stuccoed brick, the facade of the large rectangular edifice is dominated by a central stepped tower with massive teak doors at the base. Inside, the skylit hall is supported on pillars carved with intricate foliate designs and accommodates several shrines with images of various deities in its colonnade. At its center is the altar to Lord Venkateswara, to whom the temple is dedicated.
Pittsburgh architect Shashi D. Patel (b. 1942) also designed the first unified Hindu-Jain temple in the United States (1981–1990; 615 Illini Drive), five miles to the east. Here a clay-colored brick building follows the Nagradi architectural style of north-central India, with three massive central towers ringed by smaller versions. The exterior walls, articulated with horizontal brick bands, set off the windows with elaborately carved surrounds. Again, the interior is skylit, but has a central room featuring five free-standing altars honoring seven deities. Eleven master masons came from India to work on the project, using neither models nor scale drawings but instead proportioning all details of their carvings by religious formulas they had memorized.