The origins of the temple go back to June 15, 2002 when an organization to serve the Hindu community in Central Illinois was formed. The Hindu Maha Devalaya-Samkritika Kendra project was launched on September 15, 2002 on the auspicious day of Ganesh Chaturthi at Urbana Civic Center. Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and the arts, and Ganesh, the god of auspicious beginnings and remover of obstacles, were planned as presiding deities of the temple. The temple was envisaged as a religious and cultural institution in Urbana Champaign, home to the University of Illinois, a major university campus with a global reach, drawing students and faculty from India and many other parts of the world. The Hindu Temple and Cultural Society of Central Illinois (HTCSCI) was incorporated as an Illinois not-for-profit organization on March 6, 2003. A general body meeting of temple members was held, and the first Board of Trustees was elected on September 21, 2003.
A 40-acre lot in Hensley township, north of Champaign, was purchased on July 18, 2007 for $410,000. The temple would thus serve not only residents of Urbana Champaign but also other towns such as Decatur, Charleston, and Danville, within a 40-mile radius. Champaign County Board of Appeals approved HTCSCI’s application for Special Use Permit on May 31, 2007. Community members planted 80 trees on the site following the groundbreaking ceremony on September 27, 2007. Stapathi, a temple construction consultant in India suggested adding the goddess Durga, slayer of foes and protector from evil. He prepared a floor plan with shrines of three main deities—goddesses Saraswati and Durga and Lord Ganesh–and alcoves for Lord Shiv and Lord Venkateshvar. IGW, an architectural design firm in Urbana, developed the conceptual plan and prepared working drawings. The zoning use permit was received from Champaign County on April 26, 2012 and building construction of 5052 sq. ft was completed by the year’s end at a cost of $850,000.
Deep-puja and Go-puja marked the Alaya Pravesh or grand entry into the building on January 26, 2013 and Pranprathishta and Kumbhabhishekam celebrations on May 18, 2013 established the temple as a place for worship. With growing attendance by devotees, especially during festivals, space in the temple proved to be no longer adequate. The Board of Trustees began planning a Cultural Center for temple festivals, cultural programs, lectures, and community events. Champaign County issued the permit to build the Cultural Center on November 5, 2018. Andrew Fell Architects of Champaign designed the building (4100 sq ft) with a basement (1100 sq ft) as a storm shelter. It was completed and opened on November 23, 2019 but due to COVID related restrictions, was formally inaugurated only on April 17, 2022. The Navagraha and Hawan rooms were added to the main temple and pujas first performed there on April 24-25, 2023.