The foundation stones has been laid for a new Hindu temple in Bradford which will be the biggest of its kind in the North of England.

ASIAN EYE spoke to the Hindu Cultural Society of Bradford to see how the community's modest beginning has grown into a prospering part of the city's faith groups.

When Ashock Nair arrived in Bradford as a little boy from Punjab in Northern India he worshipped with his family in a terraced house.

Early 1960s Bradford had no Hindu temples so the five-year-old boy's family joined a handful of other Hindu families who lived in Gladstone Street and Bradford Moor to practise their faith in people's homes.

More than 50 years later, Bradford's Hindu community now boasts between 10,000 and 15,000 members and has recently laid the foundations of a new £3 million temple in Leeds Road, which will be the biggest Hindu temple in the North of England.

"Before the temple in Leeds Road we had a terraced house in St Margaret's Terrace which we were sharing with another Hindu community," said Mr Nair who is secretary of the Hindu Cultural Society of Bradford - which is building the new temple.

"We shared it with some people from Gujarart which practises a slightly different kind of Hinduism. There were not many Hindus here then. There were just a handful of families from Punjab. We were all living in Gladstone Street and there were one or two families living near the university."

Eventually the Punjabi group decided they wanted their own temple and raised enough money to buy a former club in Leeds Road, Laisterdyke, which had previously been used by Jehovah Witnesses.

"Families migrated from India and their children were born here so it grew and the circle became bigger," said Mr Nair, who is one of the project's co-ordinators. "My mother told me we would go to people's houses at the weekends to read the holy scripture, the Ramayan, to raise funds."

Deities were ordered from India and refurbishment work undertaken and Bradford's first Hindu temple - which is the oldest in the North of England - was born.

It is this site which is set to undergo a £3 million transformation to create a two-storey building to house a state-of-the art Hindu temple and community centre.

The temple, which started out with just a handful of families, now attracts some 2,000-3,000 worshippers every Sunday and is home to an elderly day care centre which offers meals, outings and activities to about 20 people.

But as the temple's community grew so did the need for a bigger home.

Once again fundraising began for the scheme and in 2002 Hindu priests flew from India to Bradford for prayers to launch the bigger temple.

But the scheme suffered a setback when its architects realised the cost of the planned temple far outweighed the money raised.

"The design had been based on a copy of the Neasden Temple in London which is made of marble," said Mr Nair. "But now the marble is leaking. Also it would have been very labour intensive - we were going to bring over 20 workers from India and would have had to house them. We were looking at a cost of £4 million to 6 million."

Now the revised vision is for a two, instead of three-storey temple, made of Yorkshire stone, which will house a temple on the first floor with space for some 400 people compared to the 100 people the current main hall accommodates.

Chair 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."

The temple will include a loop system for people with hearing problems and internet and video links so weddings can be beamed live across the world.

Hundreds of people from the district's Hindu community met at the weekend at the site of the new development to unveil the foundation stone of their new temple.

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

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

Funds for the temple have been raised through donations and pledges - with different people offering money for various aspects of the temple including the deities which will be installed inside.

Head of the design team Neil Hardaker, of Pickles Architects in Cleckheaton, said: "We are very proud to be associated with this project. 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."

The work, which is being done by Brighouse-based Brenville Construction Limited, is due to start on June 1 and is expected to take a year.

Once the temple is complete fundraising will start for the next phase of the scheme to build a community and sports centre.



  • The new temple will be one of the biggest in the North of England with a prayer hall which will seat 400 devotees.
  • It will house five main deities: Shree Radha Krishen, Lord Ram Parvar, Lord Shiv Parvar, Shree Durga ji Lord Murugan, Lord Ganesh and Ram Bhagat Hanuman.
  • The lower ground will house priest accommodation while the ground floor will have an elderly day centre and community hall.
  • The new Hindu temple will be on the first floor and easily accessible from the car park by stairs to the first floor or by lift and ramp for disabled access.
  • The building will blend Eastern and Western designs - built of Yorkshire stone and decorated with Indian marble on the entrance and main doors leading to the temple.
  • The deities will be housed in marble shrines imported from India.