Having been born and brought up in a religious family, I used to be fed with innumerable stories about the temples that I visited. I was always excited to visit new temples, since I have read a lot about them. Before I was 15, I had pretty much been to all the famous temples in TN, except a few in the Northern region, such as Thiruvannamalai and Thiruthani. I was curious to know how old each temple was, which king/dynasty built it, etc.
When I was in Chennai in '95, my cousin took me to the famous Nanganallur Anjaneyar Temple. Though it was nice with a tall Anjaneya statue, marble floors, and modern looks, I somehow didnt get the kind of feeling I usually get while in a new temple. Then, I moved to Bangalore and there were very few such historic temples (or hardly). When I went to ISKCON, Bangalore after its inauguration in '97, my initial amusement was more due to the glassy architecture and the Dwaraka-like main hall. The fact that this temple was built 'just like that' didnt go well with the conventional history-seeker in me.
ISKCON was the only one I would often visit, because of its proximity to IISc. It was more a case of 'something is better than nothing'. Added to that, the presence of too many stalls/booths selling all sorts of things was an irritating factor. Then I consoled myself that even in the temples of TN, people dont leave a chance to advertise/show-off anywhere.. e.g., some tiny fluorescent lamps with "Ubayam: X and family". Kashta kaalam..
Now, in US, kekkavey venam.. Most of the temples are of the "All gods under one roof" type in Florida. The temples in Tampa and Orlando were reasonably good. When my friend said he would drive all the way to Alabama for the 'Kumbabhishekam' of the newly built Puri Jagannatha temple, I was taken aback at his enthu. For him, it was an opportunity to visit his Oriya friends too. When I heard from cousin that there are about 40 temples around the Edison region of New Jersey, I was truly surprised. There are 'specialiazed' temples like Sri Ranganathar, Durga, Ram, Venkateswara and Shiva.
So, my experience of the past few years makes me believe that temple is a place to go and seek peace/blessings from God. Doesn't matter whether God really liked that place or not, or, for that matter, he choses to be there to listen to ur prayers, or not. It is little more holier than your home's pooja room; and, as I heard in a recent movie, temple is a place where the minds of hundreds of people converge at a given time.