The distinct architecture of Shri Swaminarayan Mandir might have you wondering if you have left London and traveled halfway across the world to India. This white Hindu temple was built using entirely traditional methods and materials, and until 2000 it held the Guinness World Record as the biggest Hindu temple outside India.
Built by the Hindu community, the temple was completed in 1995, making it Europe’s first traditional stone Hindu temple. It is dedicated to reverence, adoration, and gratitude and consists of a mandir (the focal point of the complex and place of worship), the “Understanding Hinduism” permanent exhibition, and the richly carved Gujarati Haveli, a cultural center made of Burmese teak wood. Entrance to the temple is included with the London Pass.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a must-visit for those with an interest in architecture and London’s diverse culture.
- The temple is open to people of all faiths and backgrounds.
- A strict dress code is enforced, so dress respectfully in clothing that covers the shoulders, chest, navel, upper arms, and knees.
- It is customary to remove footwear upon entering any part of the complex.
- The complex is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The nearest Underground station is Wembley Stadium (on the Metropolitan and Jubilee Lines); from there you can take the No. 206 bus to the temple. Alternatively, you can take the Bakerloo tube line or London Overground to Stonebridge Station and then walk 15 minutes.
When to Get There
The temple is open from 9am to 6pm daily. It is the setting for daily ceremonies, weekly assemblies, and year-round festivals, which make for particularly colorful times to visit. Check the website for up-to-date information on dates and times.
The Challenging Construction
The construction of the temple posed two major challenges: It had to be built in accordance with the steel-free Vastu Shastras, India’s ancient architectural texts, all while respecting Britain’s strict building code in order to withstand harsh weather. Three thousand tons of Bulgarian limestone and 1,200 tons of Italian Carrara marble were shipped to India to be carved and coded by professionals, and were returned to North London two years later.