Winner – Mariposa Explores…the Neasden Temple

12 05 2010

Winner of the most recent So You Think You Know London challenge, Mariposa, explores Neasden Temple in her guest post spot. Words and pictures by Mariposa.

One of the things I love most about London is its cultural and ethnical diversity. Within twenty minutes you can pass through an area which is mainly Afro-Caribbean, come through a Bangladeshi quarter and end up in a part of town which is populated by hundreds of Haredi Jews. With this great mix of cultures, not only can you enjoy all types of food you can only think of – from authentic Chinese dumplings in Chinatown to a fantastic Indian curry on Brick Lane, explore little Vietnamese supermarkets or Polish convenience stores, admire traditional Indian Saris or African gowns in clothes stores in the parts of London where these cultures are widely spread.

You can also learn almost as much about cultures and religions of the world as if you were to visit the most far away countries around the globe. You could say that you need not even leave London to embark on a tour around the world.

One of the places where this is the most evident is also one of the most impressive religious landmarks in London.  Slightly off the beaten path in terms of tourism, the  BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, known simply as Neasden Temple, is a religious landmark unlike anything else in London. In a word: Incredible.

This magnificent Hindu temple is located in Neasden, an area which is not the prettiest in London –on the way from Neasden Tube Station to the Mandir you pass mostly industrial sites and residential houses. When Shri Swaminarayan Mandir finally comes into sight, you forget in the blink of an eye that you even are in London and will feel transported right into to India. The white-stoned pinnacles and domes stick out up into the air in a quite surreal way, and are simply breath-taking.

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir was built within three years in the early 1990’s by 450 volunteers and opened its black & golden gates in 1995 to Hindus as well as visitors. It is the first Hindu temple in Europe, built in the traditional way without using any steel, only stone, Bulgarian limestone and Italian marble. 26,300 single pieces were handcrafted in India and then shipped to London where it was put together like a giant jigsaw.

The Mandir lets you dive completely into the world of Hinduism, enjoy the tranquility and peace of the building and admire the elaborately ornamented columns and embazed sculptures. The Hindus who work at the temple are all very helpful and proud when it comes to explaining their culture to visitors and, in addition, an exhibition ‘Understanding Hinduism’ in the Mandir gives further insight into India, its culture and religions.

The photographs below reveal the surreal nature of the presence of such a magnificent mandir (temple) smack dab in the middle of London. Enjoy!



3 responses

27 10 2011

Just wondering why they have changed the deities of Ganesh and Hanuman in the temple. When I first went, the image of Ganesh was seated, now he is standing. Hanuman was shown holding the hair of a demoness, now he is not. In hindu culture, once the deities are consecrated, they are believed to be god and must not be changed. Evrything around them can change except the deities themsleves, as they are sacred. Why has this occurred?

9 12 2011
Reatuch Image

nice photo.It gives the full description of the place.

20 12 2011

This is such a striking and culturally significant point of interest in London. The Temple’s beautiful architecture and intricate detailing would really great to see up close and be a worth the visit.London Serviced Apartments

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