Open House Weekend Visits to A Hindu Temple and a Secret Bunker
Last Saturday was Open House weekend in London – it has been a busy week and I have finally caught up with things – I visited BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a traditional Hindu temple and the Paddock a secret World War II bunker, both of which were located in Neasden. As I keep on saying there is more to London than just central London… there really is!
First Port of call before I jumped on the tube to Stonebridge Park was a visit to the local Charteris Sports Centre. This much loved and used sports centre use to be owned by Brent Council, but was closed down due to cutbacks… this is the real Olympic legacy, not the bull shit Cameron and the press rammed down our throats for months!
Charteris Sports Centre has now been bought by a private school group who needed extra space for gym classes. Thankfully out-with school times the facility will be available for the use of the local community… The Government can spend £11 billion plus on the London 2012 Olympic games but can’t even find the money to keep a wee sports centre open, which was used by loads of local children and people of all ages!
Miraculously I managed to navigate my way from the tube station to the Neasden Temple without getting lost. From the outside, and it’s the same inside the temple looks amazing, beautiful, stunning… was I really still in London or was I in India.
The Hindu temple was built by 3,000 volunteers who gave their expertise and time to help create the vision of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj the spiritual leader of the Hindu faith. It took 3 years to build and was built using 5,000 tonnes of carved Bulgarian limestone, Italian Carrara marble and Indian Ambaji marble. As well as a variety of hardwood’s.
There were a lot visitors at the Temple on Saturday enjoying Open House London, so it was a bit like a cattle market inside, however, never the less I did get a chance to appreciate the undoubted spirituality of the Temple. Outside was a different story and the small, but beautiful garden was almost deserted – a great place to sit, relax, reflect and enjoy the beauty of the building…
I wish I could have stayed for much longer in the garden of the Neasden Temple, but I was booked on the 4pm tour of the Paddock, Churchill’s Secret war time bunker, which was codenamed the Paddock. Thanks to TFL the bus took 30 minutes to turn up, which resulted in me getting there late, however the good people from SubBrit accommodated me on the next tour.
The Neasden bunker was built at the request of Winston Churchill in 1938 in the event that the Government offices located in Central London had to be evacuated due to German bomb raids. But as history tells us, the Battle of Britain was the beginning of the end for those evil Nazis and their plans to take over Great Britain.
You would never guess that through the inconspicuous steel door of the Neasden bunker, which is situated next to to row of Housing Association flats, that there was a piece of war time history deep below the ground. Forget the fact the bunker was only used once by Winston Churchill and his cabinet once – it was seemingly too damp and far from Central London for Churchill
The bunker is is located 40 feet below ground – there are two levels – with 6 feet of concrete above ground and in-between each floor. The bunker could withstand a a direct hit from a 500lb bomb and was also gas proof. It was built to accommodate the entire cabinet and 200 staff, even though there were no sleeping quarters, kitchen or toilets. In total there were 37 rooms, including a war room.
To get an idea of what the Paddock, looked like during war times you need a really vivid imagination, because it’s a mess. The whole building is in fact a damp, decaying relic which has been destroyed by lack of care and mother nature!
For more on the history of the Churchill’s Secret Bunker visit the Paddock. I enjoyed exploring the bunker, and hopefully in the years to come it can be fully restored… but I wont hold my breath…