Hindus have laid the foundations of a new £3 million temple which will be the biggest Hindu temple in the north of England.

Hundreds of people met yesterday at the site of the new development in Leeds Road, Laisterdyke, Bradford, to unveil the foundation stone of their new temple.

The ceremony marked phase one of an ambitious project which includes plans to build a new community and sports centre by the Hindu Cultural Society of Bradford.

Chairman of the society Achar Paul Dharni said "This is a very proud day for all the Hindus in Bradford. Many years of hard work have already gone into this project and today sees a dream beginning to come true."

The existing temple is the north of England's oldest Hindu shrine and was built in 1966.

Chairman of the society's executive committee Baldev Bhardwaj said: "We decided to build our new temple here on Leeds Road because this is the area many of us originally settled in. We have prospered in Bradford as have our children.

"We hope people will see this building as part of our thanks to Bradford for giving us our opportunities. The temple will be a magnificent building and will complement the other great religious buildings in Bradford. We hope it will make a significant contribution to the regeneration of Bradford and the Leeds Road corridor regeneration scheme."

Hindu priests flew from India to Bradford for prayers to help launch the £3 million temple in 2002 but worshippers have had to wait until now for enough money to be raised for the project.

The head of the design team, Neil Hardaker, of Pickles Architects in Cleckheaton, said: "We hope we have created a unique building; one which captures the cultural heritage of the Hindu world, yet will follow in the traditions of Bradford's finest architecture."

Building work, by Brighouse-based Brenville Construction Ltd, is due to start on Thursday, June 1, and is expected to take a year Fundraising will then start to build a community and sports centre.

e-mail: fiona.evans@bradford.newsquest.co.uk