Buddhapadipa Temple: See the Far East without leaving London …
You may remember (but probably not) that a couple of months ago, I wrote about how to experience some Tibetan culture without even having to leave London as much as I would like to actually go to somewhere like Tibet and see the place first hand, I just can t afford to. Instead, I took a trip to the Tibetan Peace Garden in Lambeth North. There I sat and read my book in surprising tranquility, considering the fact I was actually sitting next to a traffic-filled main road. This weekend, I took a different trip, to another part of Asia, this time down to Wimbledon to see the Thai Wat Buddhapadipa the first Buddhist temple in London and the only one in Europe.1
Anyone who has visited the Far East will likely recall visiting temple upon temple. They are everywhere and they are always worth a visit. Seeing one in London though seemed very unlikely, so I was nervous when suggesting it to my friends. The Flatmate, a couple of my old University Housemates and I had planned to do something cultural but couldn t decide on what. If Buddhapadipa Temple was actually a thing then it would be the ideal place for us, but I was worried we d turn up to find that I had got it wrong and the place was actually in Thailand, not South London. Happily, however, I had not got the wrong end of the stick Wimbledon is exactly where it is.
We arrived at Wimbledon station and hopped on the number 93 bus to Calonne Road. From there, we wandered down a residential street with some lovely looking houses, keeping an eye out for our destination. It was soon clear that we had arrived but the first building we saw did not look like the temple at all. My nerves continued. Then I saw a white and red building peaking out from behind the trees the temple from all the photos I had Googled. It did exist, and in Wimbledon no less, where it has been since the 1970s.
The temple grounds are open every day, between 9am-5/6pm, with the temple itself only open at weekends so Saturday was a good day to come. We started off in the temple itself. We had to take our shoes off before heading inside (I was very glad I had decided against wearing my boots with all the buckles) just like I remembered from my trips to Asia.
The inside was small and peaceful. A couple of people sat cross legged presumably in meditation so we sat too and looked around. The walls were covered in bright, lavish murals, which unsurprisingly consisted of many a buddha. The shrine at the front contained several Buddha statues and candles. There were also packs of eggs lying around. Some of the statues were golden, whilst another was green, much like the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok s Grand Palace.
Outside was almost as peaceful and zen as the inside. There was a pond with ducks scattered around and another shrine. There was also a stream coming off it, surrounded by trees and wooden bridges. Visitors had left little Buddha statues in places along the edge.
After a short while exploring, we spotted a little hut next to the car park, with some wooden chairs and a table. We settled down to eat the picnic lunch we had picked up from the Little Waitrose opposite the station.
It was a nice spot but sadly a bit too chilly for us to stay too long.
As we started to leave, the sun finally came out so we took the opportunity to take some photos which came out much less grey than the cloudy ones we d had to take earlier.