One sunny Saturday, in the Borough of Brent, I marvelled at the sight of Neasden Temple – the largest Hindu temple outside India and so co-incidentally, situated here in our darling London.
Fun fact one, this building was listed twice in the World’s Guinness Record and won the UK Pride of Place Award after a nationwide online poll.
Fun fact two, the marble, limestone and other materials used to build the temple were hand-carved in India before being assembled in London. Funds were collected entirely from worshippers and the whole architecture was built using traditional methods. More numbers of this project? Over 3000 volunteers, more than 1500 sculptors and a whopping £12 million. No question why it was featured in the list of Seven Most Iconic Buildings and Landmarks in the city.
Pictures above show only an angle of this masterpiece. In the temple itself, you can experience a traditional Hindu prayer ceremony and see an exhibition.
Bags, shoes and cameras are not allowed inside so there’s more reason for you to visit on your own!
I arrived in time for the Arti ceremony at the Maha-Mandap, first floor of the temple. Monks garbed in saffron robes performed the ceremony with candle lights and musical prayer. Pious worshippers of all ages and several visitors sat quietly, under and surrounded by shrines, sacred images and intricate carvings. The chanting sound resonated across the hall and I could smell the floral scent of the incense sticks. None of my senses were prepared to witness such spiritual occasion. It was awe-inspiring like they promised.
I was told that the visit won’t be complete without having a vegetarian lunch at Shayona across the street. I am not personally a fan of vegetarian meals, (can’t handle a chicken-less curry) but this time, I give it a naan out of ten!
Shayona offers quite a range of northern-indian food, different from the south-indian food that I was accustomed to having in Malaysia. The over-ordering and stomach-bursting situation, all ticked at this meal.
Chaat – a blanket of savoury, crispy snacks on top of potato, chick peas, yoghurt and tamarind sauce. It’s a very novel taste for a starter, a blend of sweet and savoury that I really enjoyed.
Another really interesting one is the Pani Puri below – rows of puffed bread stuffed with spices, boiled potato and chick peas taken with a shot of mint water. All in a mouthful.
I honestly hope this isn’t too bad of a demonstration.
Also had some naan, the restaurant’s special fried rice and my absolute favourite of all, paneer tikka masala.
The lunch ended with a sweet note from my large glass of pink falooda, which was a mix of rose syrup, vermicelli, basil seeds, tapioca pearls and milk.
If this isn’t enough for you, at the front of Shayona there is a pastry shop selling lots of colourful sweets.
This trip to Neasden left me a little giddy with excitement – a clear sign of my homesickness. (Ah… my regular trip to the banana leaf rice shop in Kuala Lumpur)
With love x