Seven Wonders of London: Part I – Neasden?!

Neasden in North West London is probably not somewhere on a sightseer’s wish list. Carved up by major roads and train lines, I hope any inhabitants would forgive me for labelling it a rather bleak and grubby suburb of the metropolis…

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Wandering around in the cold and drizzle in Neasden cannot be many people’s idea of a fun Saturday. The sights I came across seemed appropriately drab or even depressing, such as these soot covered wreaths marking someone’s death on the side of a road…

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And how often do you see a Ford Sierra anymore? – this 1985 model had seen better days but was a blast from the past for someone who grew up in the eighties and nineties…

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The Hindu Temple
However, hidden in Neasden is a jewel.

Nestled on a very ordinary looking road, is an extraordinary building, ranked as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of London by Time Out magazine: the Neasden Hindu Temple, or more properly, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir…

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It is the largest Hindu temple outside of India…

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Built in 1995 using traditional methods, it consists of nearly 3,000 tonnes of Bulgarian limestone and 2,000 tonnes of Italian marble, all carved exquisitely in India and then shipped back to London…

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The temple is impressive from the outside, but is awesomely intricate and ornate on the inside. As a profoundly holy place I was obviously not able to take photos of the interior. Instead, I padded around in my socks on the deep carpets and on the marble floors as many people prayed and contemplated in silence around me (in another part of the temple people chanted following the microphoned voice of a cross-legged leader). Numerous Hindu shrines adorned with large, porcelainesque, statues of Hindu deities and holy figures including Lord Swaminarayan himself – a 18th-19th century holy man whose followers believe was an incarnation of God.

I find something truly special in the fact that such a remarkable place of spirituality exists in what might otherwise, rather rudely but accurately, be labelled as a dull part of London.

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3 thoughts on “Seven Wonders of London: Part I – Neasden?!

  1. Pingback: Seven Wonders of London: Part II – an architectural Smörgåsbord | iago80

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