Did you know that London has its own purpose- built Hindu Temple? And that it used to be the largest Hindu Temple outside of India? Well, off to Neasden then! BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (or Neasden Temple to keep it simple) is a Hindu temple built in the 1990s built with Bulgarian Limestone and Italian Marble, hand-carved in India and assembled in London (without any iron or steel!) in a time of only 2 years.
It looks absolutely stunning from the outside and next to a full spiritual and cultural centre (A “Haveli” – a wooden structure with delicate carvings). The Mandir also houses a very interesting Exhibition, called “Understanding Hinduism”, a well stocked Indian spiritual shop and an Indian Restaurant across the street.
Visitors of all (or no) faiths are welcome, entrance is free and you can walk around all the temple, admiring the carvings, the large hall, the holy statures and soak up the wonderful atmosphere. The entrance to the exhibition costs £2 but its well spent- it is vast, interactive and easy to understand and includes an extensive booklet for further home study. Be prepared though for your arrival – all this architectural delight is set in a Neasden Industrial estate (on the opposite site of the North Circular Road of IKEA….) so it makes for an interesting contrast (see some pictures from my visit below…) . Access via public transport is not very good, you could use the Jubilee line to Neasden and walk for a while, or you could bike along the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union canal (about 30 min from Paddington). Just check the travel planner, the adress of the Mandir is 105-119 Brentfield Rd, London NW10 8LD