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22 July 2019The Neasden Hindu Temple and Gardens
02 September 2019The College of Arms, London
03 May 2020Porto: Art, Culture and the British Connection

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The Neasden Hindu Temple and Gardens
Monday 22 July 2019

Cost £45 includes coach, guided tour of the Temple and Haveli, entrance to the permanent exhibition, full Indian vegetarian buffet lunch and a visit to the surrounding award-winning gardens.  The booking form can be downloaded here.

Completed in 1995 the Temple, also known as BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, is a masterpiece of traditional Hindu design and exquisite workmanship. 5,000 tonnes of marble and limestone were shipped to Gujarat, where the carving was completed by 1,500 craftsmen. Over 26,300 individually numbered stone pieces were shipped back to London, and the building was assembled like a giant three-dimensional jigsaw. Built entirely using traditional methods and materials, the Mandir has been described as being Britain's first authentic Hindu temple.  

Adjoining the Mandir is BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Haveli, a multi-function cultural centre. Whereas the Mandir is carved from stone, the Haveli uses wood. English oak and Burmese teak have been fashioned into panels, arches and screens.  Carved by more than 150 craftsmen from all over India, it took three years to carve the 17,000 square feet of wood into a cornucopia of geometric patterns, stylised animal heads and flower garlands. 

The garden has been awarded many prizes, and also featured prominently on Monty Don’s BBC Gardeners’ World in 2018. It takes the form of two distinct styles. At the front and sides of the Mandir lies a parterre garden, featuring five lotus-shaped beds framed in light green box hedges and filled with a variety of colourful tulips and roses. Also surrounding the Mandir is a small moat featuring foam jets incessantly splashing into the granite pools. Towards the back of the Mandir lies what is termed a formal garden. It creates three interconnecting star-shaped walkways, representing the sun, the earth, and the moon. At the centre of the sun-star lies an ornamental lotus pond with a small fountain, while beeches, begonias, and azaleas surround the other areas.

On the lower floor beneath the Mandir is the permanent exhibition 'Understanding Hinduism'. Through 3-D dioramas, paintings, tableaux and traditional craftwork, it provides an insight into the history and values of Hinduism.

Please note that a strict dress code operates within the complex. Specifically, tops must cover the shoulders, chest, navel, and upper arms. Leg-wear must be at least below knee-length.