London has its fair share of famous sights, the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, not ot mention the London Eye, but this tour of London’s sights for Indian culture was inspired by ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ not ‘A Fish called Wanda’. The film on everyone’s lips or must see list, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ was a big winner at the Golden Globes but travel to India is not in the cards for everyone. Indians are London’s largest ethnic minority with a population of one half million, (more than the Indian population in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Portugal combined). which makes London and excellent destination for a taste of India.
A Hindu Temple and Museum
The day starts with a visit to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in North London, a masterpiece of Indian design and craftsmanship. Rising above the London skyline, BAPS Shri Swaminayaran Mandir serves as both a religious structure and a museum and is the largest Hindu Temple outside of India. Inside you will find the museum with its amazing exhibition “Understanding Hinduism” which explores the origins and beliefs of this 8,500 year old religion. BAPS Shri Swaminarayn Mandir is easily reached on the Jubilee tube line, use either Neasden or Dollis Hill Underground stations. Admission to the temple is free, entry to the museum is 2 pounds for adults and 1.50 for children. All visitors, to the temple and museum should obey the dress code, smart casual, no shorts or skirts shorter than the knee.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, 105-119 Brentfield Road, Neasden, London NW10
Indian Art and Culture
London’s Victoria and Albert museum is the custodian of a large collection of Indian Art, 45,000 objects dating from 200 BC until present day reflecting the great cultural heritage of India. The Victoria and Albert’s Indian collections are divided into two galleries. One gallery displays masterpieces of sculpture from the period of 200 BC to 1500 AD, the other gallery, the Nehru Gallery of Indian Art, shows pieces from 1500 AD to present day. Be sure and look for the Golden Throne of Ranjit Singh, the jade cups belonging to Shah Jahan, who commissioned the Taj mahal, and my favorite piece, Tippo’s Tiger. A combination automaton and organ in the form of a red coated soldier being attacked by a tiger, Tippo’s Tiger was a favorite amusement of the Sultan of Mysore before his defeat by Cornwallis in 1799. The Victoria and Albert Museum is open daily from 10 AM to 5:45 PM, use the South Kensington Underground Station.
Victoria and Albert, Cromwell Road, London SW1
Indian Restaurants in London
London has literally thousands of Indian Restaurants to choose from, no matter where you are staying there are bound to be a few delicious choices nearby, I personally have never had a bad Indian meal in London but here are just a few of my centrally located favorites.
Diwana Bhel Poori House, on a street with several choices, the twin dining rooms of this restaurant near Euston station are always packed and busy, the reason, delicious food and reasonable prices. Euston Underground
121 Drummond Street, London NW1
Indian YMCA centrally located and not the most beautiful dining room but this is the place for authentic and unusual Indian fare. Best to be seated shortly after service begins. Fitzrovia Underground
41 Fitzroy Square, London W1T
India Club, for this culinary adventure you are going to have to climb two flights of stairs at the Strand Continental Hotel, the dining room may not be much to look at, but the smells emanating form the kitchen inform the stomach you have arrived at the right place.
143 Strand, London WC2R