SUSHILA and Dhirajlal Karia have run a small temple in their house near Clacton seafront for the past 30 years.

The couple’s spare bedroom might be tiny, but its consecration made it the only Hindu temple for more than 60 miles.

Since then, their home in Coan Avenue has played host to an incredible 50,000 visitors, often coming by the coachload.

But, for all that, the couple say they have never encountered unease or opposition from their neighbours or the wider community in Clacton.

They say the temple is a happy place, which brings people together.

They admit it would be nice to move it to a larger building with more room for worshippers – but say the last thing they would ever wish to do would be to upset neighbours or people in the town.

Mr Karia says a central precept of his religion is never to ask anything from anyone.

So, while he admits he would like help find a suitable building, Mr Karia says he would never lead a campaign for a new temple in the face of opposition.

Mr Karia said: “We have never asked for anything.

“All the time we have had the temple, we have never taken a penny in donations.

“Only recently we have started a charity to raise money for a temple and community centre.

“It is really because, if one of us died, it would be too much work to run the temple from the house. It is a 24/7 commitment.”

Although talks have been held with Colchester Council about the project, the Karias’ personal preference would be to site any new temple in Clacton – probably close to the waterfront.

The sea is regarded as sacred in Hinduism.

On a more prosaic level, when worshippers come to see the temple, they also enjoy seeing the funfair and walking on the beach as part of the trip, Mr Karia admitted.

He added: “We have made all this happen in Clacton, so really we would like it to stay in Clacton.”

One recent idea was to house the temple really close to the sea – in the Napoleonic War-era Martello tower on Marine Parade.

The plan was mooted in March but dropped a month later, when Mr and Mrs Karia learned a petition was being raised against the idea .

The Karias originally started their home temple purely for their own use.

When word got out a priest was coming from India to bless its statues, others wanted to come and things snowballed from there.

But after 30 years and 50,000-odd visitors, Mrs Karia is adamant there is “something special” about the temple in their spare room.

Visitors have told her their dreams came true after setting foot inside.

Despite the recent controversy, the Karias remain confident their own personal dream – of a new temple which is accepted by everyone in the area – can still come true.