London is home to the largest Hindu temple outside of India, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. This spectacular temple, located in Neasden, is not widely known to the average Londoner but offers a fascinating story that is worth exploring. The temple was built by thousands of craftsmen in a project that spanned most of the world, making it a unique and remarkable structure.
In this article, we will delve into the history of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, explore why it is worth visiting, and provide practical information for those who wish to visit. From its incredible architecture to its religious significance, there is much to discover about this hidden gem in London.
- The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is the largest Hindu temple outside of India and is located in Neasden, London.
- The temple was built by thousands of craftsmen in a project that spanned most of the world, making it a unique and remarkable structure.
- Visitors can explore the temple’s fascinating history and architecture, as well as practical information for visiting.
Why Visit BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir?
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a unique destination in the UK, especially in London. The mandir is a true testament to the dedication and creativity of the craftsmen who built it. Visitors can marvel at the intricate stone carvings and gain a deeper understanding of the Hindu faith that inspired this magnificent structure. The mandir provides a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience the beauty and intricacy of Hindu architecture and craftsmanship outside of India.
The History of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, located in Neasden, London, is a remarkable Hindu temple that has gained worldwide recognition for its grandeur and intricate design. The temple was conceptualized by Pramukh Swami Maharaj, an important guru and president of the Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a denomination of Hinduism. Despite its ancient Indian temple-like appearance, the temple’s construction only dates back to the 1990s.
Plenty of Challenges
The construction of the temple was a groundbreaking project that presented numerous challenges. To achieve the desired scale and intricacy of the mandir, Pramukh Swami Maharaj enlisted the help of architect C. B. Sompura to plan the project. The sourcing of stone from quarries in Italy, Bulgaria, and India presented a challenge, as the only craftsmen capable of carving the stone into the styles required for the mandir were in India.
To overcome this obstacle, thousands of tonnes of marble were shipped around the world to Kandla in Gujarat, India, where a workshop employing 1,500 highly skilled artisans was set up for the project. Once complete, the 26,300 individual pieces of stone were shipped to London, where construction could begin.
An Exceptional Temple
The construction of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir was a massive undertaking that required the assistance of over 1,000 volunteers who helped with construction and fundraising. The volunteers went to great lengths, even collecting tin cans for recycling, to ensure the successful completion of the project.
The temple’s construction was remarkable in that it was built without a steel frame. Instead, the bricks were slotted and stacked together, a unique construction method for a building project of this scale in the UK. Upon its completion in 1995, the temple broke a Guinness world record by becoming the largest Hindu temple outside of India.
Today, the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir continues to stand as a testament to the dedication and hard work of those who contributed to its construction. It is a symbol of divine faith to Hindus everywhere and a remarkable achievement in the history of temple architecture.
Visiting the Temple
To visit the Mandir in Neasden, one needs to embark on a journey, but it is a worthwhile experience. The temple is open to everyone, and there is no entry fee. However, visitors are required to pay £2 to access the Hinduism exhibition. As it is a sacred religious site, visitors are expected to maintain respectful behavior.
It is customary for both men and women to cover their legs and shoulders when visiting Hindu temples, and removing shoes may also be required. Visitors should be mindful of these practices and dress appropriately to avoid offending anyone.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir: Practical Information
- Address: Pramukh Swami Rd, Neasden, London NW10 8HW
- Opening Times: Everyday 9am – 6pm
- Tickets: Entry is free but the Understanding Hinduism exhibition is £2
- Website: Link
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is open every day from 9am to 6pm. Entry to the temple is free, but there is a £2 fee for the Understanding Hinduism exhibition. The temple is located at Pramukh Swami Rd, Neasden, London NW10 8HW. For more information, visit the temple’s website.