Sunday, 1 March 2009

A little bit of India

On Saturday after Louisa and my DIY hair dye jobs (oh how I miss having the money to get it done at the hairdressers) I took Louisa on a surprise trip to India for the day. Ok well maybe not real India but I took her to a little slice of India in London as after googling “Free London Attractions” something caught my eye and since it was in Neasden, one tube stop up from me, we decided to walk (Louisa is training for a marathon and I am totally encouraging and supporting of this …).

After about half an hour of walking (and navigating over a big over, under, through, by pass) we stumbled across this …

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (Hindu Temple)

Located in an unexpected and fairly barren area on the edge of north-west London, this amazingly spiritual and architectural gem is free to visit and well worth the trip out to the suburbs - in fact the bleak location makes the beauty and symbolism of the temple all the most spectacular. The first traditional Hindu Mandir in Europe, every one of the 26,300 individually carved pieces that make up its entirety were carved in India and shipped over to London. All of these pieces were then fitted together in just three years, between 1992 and 1995. Inside and outside this place is absolutely stunning. The stark white exterior, riddled with intricate detail and carvings, belies an opulent, colourful interior. Highly-fashioned pillars, domes, columns, carpets and ceilings provide the setting for some spectacular murtis rich with lavish thrones and royal attire. Please note: this is a place of worship so shoes should be removed and no shorts or skirts shorter than knee length should be worn.

Louisa was totally surprised and luckily she wasn’t wearing her slapper skirt (I think she only saves them for dressing up!! Love ya Lou) we were allowed to go inside and take a peak.

Once inside we had to take off our shoes and then we were allowed to walk around. Unfortunately the free audio guides were all gone so we just strolled at our own pace.

Inside was all beautifully carved. Some places in wood and others in, I think, marble. The temple has a large worshipping room with lots of, gods/idols? (not sure what they were but lots of statute things people were praying in front of and giving money and fruit to). We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside but have found some on the internet to give you a look at what it looked like inside.

It was nice to get out and about and see some more of London on foot. London is great for having free attractions, sometimes you just got to know where to look to find the hidden gems!

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