Sunday, May 04, 2014

Exploring Hinduism in Neasden

Today I ticked another item off my bucket list - visiting the Neasden Temple, or to give it the proper title, Baps Shri Swaminarayan Hindu Mandir - a Mandir is a Hindu place of worship. It is the largest Hindu temple outside of India and ever since I read about how it was made I'd wanted to visit. I also believe it's important to understand other religions and cultures better so that we can all accept each other with an open mind and heart..

The building of the Mandir was a truly remarkable undertaking and an example of incredible organization (and faith). The limestone for the outside is from Bulgaria, the granite for the foundations is from Sardinia, and the marble for the inside is from Tuscany and Gujarat. All of this stone/marble was transported to India for carving where over 1500 craftsmen were involved in carving the intricate designs.

Once the carving was complete all the pieces were carefully packaged and sent to the UK to be put together in Neasden - it took two and a half years, being completed in 1995. The Mandir has no steel reinforcement  - the design is made to be load bearing.

You're not allowed to take pictures inside but if you click on this LINK you will see pictures of the amazing carvings in the inner sanctum. There is a really interesting exhibition on the ground level explaining the history and beliefs of Hinduism - what we didn't realize is that this is the oldest living religion.

After we had absorbed the beauty of the Mandir we went across the road to the Shayona restaurant to have lunch - being Hindu it is vegetarian, and the food was scrummy. Ken had tarka dal, alloo paratha, and rice, whilst I had a plain dosa with lentil soup and chutneys. We also shared a yummy starter.

As you can see we had more than enough food - the huge thing lying across my plate is the dosa, which is an Indian crepe - I wasn't expecting it to be quite so large.

At the entrance to the restaurant is a place to buy takeaway food including very colourful Indian sweets and ice cream. Unfortunately we were so stuffed we couldn't fit any in.

The flavours at the front were calling to me - Ferrera Rocher and Bounty flavoured ice cream, yummo.

So that was our visit to the breathtakingly beautiful Mandir in Neasden. Until next time, be good, do what makes you happy, and do something nice for someone who can never thank you.

Pamela and Ken

P.S: Final picture - naked man in a window, what a dummy!!

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