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BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London participated once again in Open House London, the capital’s annual festival of architecture, by welcoming hundreds of visitors over the weekend of 22-23 September 2012.

The Mandir joined over 700 buildings, including private homes, commercial and government offices, historical sites, places of worship, educational establishments, and many others in “a celebration of all that is best about the capital’s buildings.”

The annual event is coordinated by Open-City, an independent architecture organisation which “aims to be at the centre of creating better places – and a better city” by “champion[ing] excellence in design quality and advocating for an inclusive and informed approach to the development of our city.”

Despite the steady rainfall over both days, a constant stream of visitors arrived in earnest to explore the Mandir and Haveli (adjoining cultural complex).

Guided tours were on offer throughout the day where visitors learned about the making of the Mandir and the significance of its religious architecture. Guests were also able to explore the ‘Understanding Hinduism’ exhibition as a part of their visit.

Rakesh Shah, a volunteer at the Mandir, shared: “We welcome all visitors throughout the year, but this particular event allows us to provide guests who are more interested in the architecture a deeper insight into the building and its religious role. We hope visitors could also learn a little more about what this Mandir offers to the wider community and our joy in reaching out and welcoming everyone.”

Many visitors also shared their impressions of the Mandir and the volunteers. Here are a few:

An incredibly beautiful building, which is spiritually uplifting and fills me with humility to think it was built by volunteers who carved and laid every piece of stone with love. Thank you for allowing me to experience. – Teacher, 46

Beautiful, elegant, peaceful building. Magnificent. Truly amazing place for worship. Thank you for opening your house to us.

It was a wonderful experience, with lots to learn. We experienced great peace during our visit. I will definitely be coming back. Thank you. – Bookseller, 40

Magnificent! I have travelled the world but have not seen anything like this. I am a Roman Catholic but found myself praying. I will come back.

Very impressed by the Mandir & the philosophy behind the religion. A pleasant experience. – Council Administrator, 51

I really enjoyed my first ever visit to a Hindu Temple. I have learned much and will tell all my friends and hope to return. – Town Planner, 51

Incredible building, with informative and enthusiastic people providing information & welcoming smiles. – Design Engineer, 32

Friendly, informative, calm, peaceful, spiritual. Left me yearning for more insight of this beautiful religion and culture. Thank you :) – Businesswoman, 43

Delighted we had the opportunity to visit here today. What a beautiful temple and everyone so friendly and helpful. Thank you. – Retired Nurse, 62

The children [guides] were lovely and knowledgeable. An impressive building. Fantastic visit. – Teacher, 26

Calm & beautiful place. The place is a result of devotion. – HR Export Manager, 45

To learn more about BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London, please visit londonmandir.baps.org.

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