UNITED KINGDOM, September 22, 2020 (Dezeen): The next Open House London documentary offers a glimpse of Neasden Temple, a place of worship in northwest London that was built using ancient Hindu texts and 26,000 pieces of stone. Filmed by Jim Stephenson, the documentary is one of nine videos that will feature on Dezeen throughout Open House London 2020 to shine a light on rarely published places in the capital. Neasden Temple, formally known as BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, opened in 1995 as the first traditional Hindu temple, or mandir, in Europe. Today it serves as both a place of worship and a center for community outreach activities.
The temple was built with over 5,000 tons of Bulgarian limestone and Italian Carrara marble, hand-carved in India by 1,500 artisans. The 26,000 pieces of finished stone carvings were then sent to the UK to be assembled on-site by more than 3,000 volunteers, without any reinforcing iron or steel. In the video, tour guide and head monk Yogvivekdas Swami explains the story of the temple’s design, which was dictated by ancient texts called the Vastu Shastra. The Vastu Shastra, which translates as “science of architecture,” is a traditional Indian system of architecture that incorporates traditional Hindu beliefs and has informed the design of mandirs since 1500 BCE. “Ancient Hindu builders envision the mandir not merely as a sacred structure, but as an actual form of God,” Swami concluded. “A mandir is such a place where architecture and art come together to provide a divine experience.”