Dubai may not seem like the most esoteric or otherworldly of destinations, but there is one location that is an absolute must for those visitors who would like to sample the rich religious and cultural landscape of Dubai: the Shiva and Krishna Mandir in Bur Dubai at the back of the Al-Fahidi museum (itself well worth a visit with a fascinating range of exhibits including entombed bronze-age skeletons).
The mandir is not reserved solely for Hindus, and non-Hindus are welcomed warmly. You can buy jasmine garlands (gajra) and as you leave the mandir you are given a prasada token - a small carton of lentil soup and some bread.
The only drawback, it can get very congested, especially at the shrines themselves, so if you have small kids, or are claustrophobic then you might try to go when there are fewer people around.
It's a unique insight into the cultural life of Dubai, and a touching sign of religious tolerance: the Mandir abuts a mosque and worshippers and visitors to the vicinity are treated with respect. However, please don't forget to observe local sensitivities regarding dress. Never enter a religious site wearing revealing clothes - and that includes shorts: a pretty tall order for a place as hot as the UAE.
After visiting the Mandir, stroll around the neighbourhood of Bur Dubai; you can enjoy the huge range of Subcontinental and East Asian cuisine on offer and marvel at the rich diversity of the area - as well as the tacky shops, themselves somehow worth a visit.
To get to the Mandir just walk from the Dubai Museum (Al-Fahidi fort) towards the Dubai Creek, about a 100 meters or less from the museum. Turn left and you will see what looks like a large scale busstop overlooking the creek: this is the rear entrance to the mandir complex (which also includes a Sikh gurdwara). If these directions don't help, ask any resident and they will readily show you where it is.
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