So who knew that there is a Hindu Temple in London then? Not only that, but it is the biggest Hindu temple outside of India.
I had no idea this place existed until it cropped up on one of my meet-up roundups, yet it has sat here for twenty years, majestically tucked away in suburban Neasden, soaking up the pollution of the North Circular Road.
It’s a spectacular place. The component parts were made by artisans in India, then shipped over to London where they were put together like a giant jigsaw puzzle by hundreds of London-based volunteers.
It’s like a kind of flat-pack temple; appropriately enough, since it sits conveniently close to a branch of Ikea, a slightly different kind of flat-pack temple.
It’s called the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, although known as Neasden Temple (luckily, since that’s a lot easier to say if you need to ask directions).
It’s free to visit and you can either take an organised tour or just wander in and look around.
I took a tour, which featured a short introduction by a volunteer, a short video (which told us pretty much the same stuff he had told us about the building of the temple) and then a look around the Mandir (or temple). The temple was absolutely stunning, but unfortunately they banned cameras inside the building, so no photos.
There was also an exhibition about Hinduism (you pay £2 for that and get a free book on the subject).
The temple has a restaurant that serves delicious vegetarian food (no meat and no alcohol but really good food).
Neasden is a bit of a haul out of town (depends where you’re coming from obviously but it took me nearly two hours) in travelzone three. I don’t think I’ve ever had reason to go to the area before and quite possibly never will again; there isn’t much there except for busy dual carriageways leading to out-of-town shopping centres, plus some rather tired looking housing. I recommend the temple though.