The largest "gurdwara"(a Sikh place of worship) outside of India is located in the East San Jose foothills. This 110,000-square-foot structure sits palatial-like on 40 acres of hillside, with a sweeping view of the entire Silicon Valley. The spacious Darbar Sahib, or Main Hall, can hold 2,500 people, but there were probably only about 100 on the Sunday when I attended a 10 a.m. prayer service (daily services begin at 3:30 a.m.; the last one of the day starts at 8:45 p.m.). I'm not a Sikh, but that was no problem. I asked other service-goers plenty of questions to make sure I was doing everything right, and everyone - and I do mean every single person I talked to - was happy to explain the correct protocols. Before entering the hall, you'll need to cover your head (bins placed near the doorways contain scarves to use), remove your shoes (shoe racks are by the doors, too) and wash your hands (at the sinks near the shoe racks). The hall is segregated, with men sitting on the left and women on the right. It contains no chairs, but the floor is thickly carpeted, and there are plenty of walls and pillars to lean against. Don't expect to understand the sermon or hymns unless you speak Punjabi, but it's still worth going if only to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Next to the Darbar Sahib is Langar Hall, containing a large busy kitchen and a sunny dining area, where people sit on long narrow carpets as they eat. The kitchen is open all day, every day, and the food is free.
3636 Gurdwara Avenue, San Jose, CA 95148, USA