History of the Buddhapadipa Buddhist Temple London

The Wat Buddhapadipa was the first Buddhist temple built in the UK. Even now, it remains the only Thai temple build in Europe, and one of only two Thai temples outside of Asia. The temple was built using traditional Thai architecture, designed by Praves Limparasangsri in association with Sidney Kaye Firmin Partnership. It is a complex of buildings set on four acres of land. The temple was originally located on Christ Church Road, Richmond but was relocated to Calonne Road, Wimbledon Parkside in 1976. That is where the temple currently stands. On October 30, 1982, the celebration of monastic boundary was held to make the Wat Buddhapadipa a formal temple according to Thai tradition.

The temple has been funded by the Royal Patronage since 1965. After it was moved to its present location, the Royal Thai Government and the Thai people supported the erection of an "Ubosot" by the London Buddhist Temple Foundation. An ubosot is a Thai style building in a Buddhist Wat used for monastic ceremonies and rituals, surrounded by a boundary of eight sema stones which separate the sacredness of the building from the profane outside world.

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Wat Buddhapadipa in London is home to many monks and nuns. Visitors of all different faiths are welcome to visit and walk through the grounds and temple as long as they conduct themselves respectfully. From the start, the London Buddhist Temple Foundation established the Wat Buddhapadipa in London with the goal of spreading Buddhist teachings throughout Europe. It has become an important centre for actively promoting theoretical and practical Buddhism.

Uposotha Hall or the Temple was designed according to traditional Thai architecture. It has white exterior walls with contrasting red and gold doors, window frames, and Caturamuk which is the four-gabled roofs. On February 2, 1979 General Kriangsakdi Jamananda, the Prime Minister of Thailand at that time, laid its foundation stone. The Thai Embassador at that time, Mr. Pan Wannamedhi, supervised its construction, which lasted three years. On October 30, 1982, the elder sister of the King of Thailand, HRH Princess Kallayanivaddana, performed the inauguration ceremony.

The Shrine room is filled with some notable Buddha statues and decorations. In 1966, the Temple received its main black bronze Buddha statue as a gift from the King of Thailand. The golden statue of Buddha was received on October 28, 1982 from the committee of the Foundation Buddhist Temple. The third image of Buddha was received on June 20, 1990, which is a replica of the Emerald Buddha at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, given by the Buddhist devout ladies of Wat Boonsrimunikorn Bangkok. In 1990 the Temple also received the two images of the Great Disciples of the Buddha, Moggallana Thera and Sariputra Thera. They are depicted as standing on either side of the Buddha paying their respect to him.

Inside the temple hall are some wonderfully intricate and colorful mural paintings, all painted by volunteer Thai artists, starting in the 1980s. These murals depict the life of Buddha, ranging from his birth to his death. One of the murals, "The Birth", shows his birth in Lumbini, Nepal. Another mural depicts Buddha meditating to reach enlightenment while Mara's army tries to distract him. The figure of Nang Thoranee, the earth goddess, is shown in the midst of Mara's assault, bringing aid to Buddha. In another painting, Buddha finally reaches enlightenment and Mara's army looks more subdued and respectful. One of the murals shows Buddha's final death and achievement of Nirvana.

Wat Buddhapadipa in London is filled inside and out with beautiful decorations, symbols of worship, and pieces of history. Those who walk through the grounds of the Temple will find gardens, a house, a pond, and several bridges. Signs are posted in the gardens to give a message of wisdom to passersby. There is much about Thailand and Buddhism that can be learned from the Temple.

Site design Meevat Paravan 2008