Open House London – the British capital’s principal architectural festival – took place over the weekend of 21-22 September 2013. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London participated once again in the annual celebration of all that is “best about the capital’s buildings, places, and neighbourhoods.”
The annual event is organised by Open House, a small, not-for-profit organisation established in 1992 aiming to promote public awareness and appreciation of the capital’s building design and architecture. It falls under the auspices of Open-City, London’s leading architecture education organisation.
The Mandir was among more than 700 buildings, including homes, monuments and places of worship, in opening its doors to the public. Other local wonders included the Brent Civic Centre in Wembley and South Kilburn Studios.
Over the two days, hundreds of visitors were offered guided tours of the Mandir complex, learning how it was made 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: “The Mandir welcomes worshippers, visitors and guests throughout the year. Open House, however, provides a more specific and tailored experience for those who wish to understand the architectural significance as well as the religious activities that take place here. We hope that all the visitors over the weekend were able to learn something about the Mandir as well as the various community activities that it conducts and promotes.”
Many visitors also shared their experience of the Mandir, exhibition and volunteers. Below is a small selection of their feedback.
“Very welcoming, interesting and informative.In a world of unbelief, it is refreshing to be with those who believe.”
“Staff and volunteers all very welcoming and happy to talk to us and explain. Exhibition and film excellent and very informative. A very spiritual and uplifting visit. Thank you.”
“The mandir oozed peace, harmony and toleration. Very uplifting.”
“Awesome architecture. Information available made me aware of the good aspects of Hinduism – the goodness of the teachings.”
“Fascinating + very interesting. Gives more understanding of Hinduism.Very inclusive.”
“I enjoyed this even more than expected. The information panels were concise and just the right amount of info for a beginner to the religion. I loved it all. Beautiful building.”
“Amazing building. The attention to detail was like nothing we have seen before. Thank you for allowing this visit!”
“Very beautiful temple. Very helpful & friendly people. 10/10.”
“Thank you for bringing something so beautiful to England. God bless.”
“Beautiful.Superb.Never thought we’d see this in London.”
“This is a place of great spiritual power. I belong to an altogether different religious confession but I'm definitely coming back to experience again this incredible feeling.”
“Beautiful, well explained exhibition and informative, fantastic stone carvings and a feeling of a ‘higher power’ being involved in its construction.”