London is studded with many temples — places of worship for Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. Some are as intricately designed on the inside as they appear on the outside, but as they are active places of worship, interior photography is not usually permitted. Acquaint yourself with the outside of these buildings, and make a point of visiting one or two.
Shree Ganapathy Temple, Wimbledon
Tucked down a residential road in Wimbledon, this temple is a simpler building than some of the others we've included. It opened in 1981 in a structure that was previously a church hall. It was redesigned according to Hindu guidelines and became the first fully consecrated Hindu temple in Europe.
Shree Ganapathy Temple, 125-133 Effra Road, Wimbledon
Shree Swaminarayan Temple, Willesden
This Hindu temple also took over a disused church building. In 1975, a venue was needed to act as a place of worship for the increasing number of Swaminarayan devotees who had immigrated from East Africa to the UK since the 1960s. The congregation grew, and the temple took over the building next door, before demolishing the two existing buildings and replacing them with the current incarnation. It's a three-storey red brick building, combining aspects of British and Hindu architecture, and opened in 1988.
Shree Swaminarayan Temple Willesden, 220-222 Willesden Lane
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden
More commonly known as Neasden Temple, this is the one most Londoners know about. It's open to the public most days (timings here) and is free to visit. It's worth noting these guidelines before you go, as it is a functional place of Hindu worship.
When it was built, it was the largest traditional Hindu temple outside India, but this record has since been surpassed. It was inaugurated and opened in 1995.
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, NW10 8LD
Shri Sanatan Hindu Mandir, Wembley
This stunner of a building is carved from imported Indian limestone, and took an impressive 14 years to build, finally opening in 2010.
It's possible to arrange a free visit if you want to see the inside, but again, no photography is allowed, and there's a strict dress code to adhere to.
Shri Sanatan Hindu Mandir, Ealing Road, Wembley
Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu Mandir, Leytonstone
This temple is run by the same charity as the Shri Sanatan Hindu Mandir in Wembley (above), although the buildings are very different in style. This one actually came first, opening in 1980 by the charity Shri Vallabh Nidhi UK with the aim of advancing the Hindu faith.
Shri Nathji Sanatan Hindu Mandir, 159-191 Whipps Cross Road, Leytonstone
ISKCON-Soho Temple (Radha Krishna Temple)
You may have seen (or heard) members of the Hare Krishna movement spreading their message in Soho and Oxford Street. They're based at the above temple on Soho Street.
Members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) first arrived in London in the 1960s, sent by the society's leader from the San Francisco temple to establish a UK base. The first temple was based in a warehouse in Covent Garden, and it was during this time that Beatle George Harrison became interested in their work, inviting them to Abbey Road Studios to record and co-signing the lease on the society's new premises in Bloomsbury. In 1979, the central London temple moved to its current premises at Soho Square.
The temple is open to the public, as is Govinda's vegetarian restaurant next door (see picture) which is run by the temple.
Radha Krishna Temple, 10 Soho Street
London Sri Murugan Temple, East Ham
Dedicated to the Hindu god Muruga, this temple has an impressively ornate carved tower, quite a contrast to the suburban housing which surrounds it.
London Sri Murugan Temple, 78 Church Road, East Ham
Wat Buddhapadipa, Wimbledon
This one's a Buddhist temple, situated in four acres of land in Wimbledon, including an ornamental lake and flower garden. It has strong links with London's Royal Thai Embassy, and has hosted many members of Thai royalty over the years.
The ornate building pictured above is the Uposatha Hall, or main temple, which was opened in 1982.
The main house and cottage are home to a library — open to the public for research purposes — and Shrine Room, home to a golden statue of the Buddha, to which offerings are made. The temple and grounds are often open to the public during London Open House Weekend.
Wat Buddhapadipa Temple, 14 Calonne Road, Wimbledon
SKS Swaminarayan Temple East London, Forest Gate
26 August 1988 saw the official opening of this temple, after many years of attempts to find a suitable location by local Kutchee Hindu devotees. They had been leading house-to-house devotions in the local area since 1976, and as they increased in number, a permanent site was needed. The land on Shaftesbury Avenue (not that Shaftesbury Avenue) was bought in 1985, and the purpose-built temple was a result of a local fundraising campaign.
SKS Swaminarayan Temple, 22-24 Shaftesbury Avenue, Forest Gate
Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall
This is the largest Gurdwara — Sikh place of worship — outside of India, split across two sites in Southall. The building on Havelock Road, previously a dairy, was transformed into a Gurdwara in 1967, and the second site was opened in 1997.
The Gurdwara also runs a Sikh school, Khalsa Primary, which is also in Southall.
Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Havelock Road and Park Avenue, Southall
Where have we missed? Let us know in the comments below.