London's Open House Festival Draws Crowds

September 20, 2009

Author: David Batty

Source: The Guardian

The approach is less than enchanting – a grey suburban street off London's North Circular Road. Then it creeps into view, a serene vision of white domes and pillars. Indeed, the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir could be mistaken for a fairy tale mirage, if this were the height of a summer in Kolkata and not a cloudy September morning in Neasden.

The Mandir, known locally as Neasden Temple, was one of the highlights of this year's Open House architecture festival in London. Although it is the biggest Hindu temple in Europe, the intricate design belies its size.

Every column and archway inside has its own unique design. Medical student Nirav Amin, from Kent, one of the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan (Baps) sect's many volunteers at the temple, said: "I've been coming here for 14 years and every time I see something new."