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£11m temple open by April?

PUBLISHED: 15:07 12 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:15 23 August 2010

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: It is hoped the temple, which has taken seven years to build so far, will be partially open for the Vaiskhi festival.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: It is hoped the temple, which has taken seven years to build so far, will be partially open for the Vaiskhi festival.

THE architect of an £11 million Sikh temple hopes the building can be partially opened in time for next year s Vaisakhi festival. Set to be one of the largest Sikh temples in the UK, the Gurdwara, off Khalsa Avenue, Gravesend, has been under construction

THE architect of an £11 million Sikh temple hopes the building can be partially opened in time for next year's Vaisakhi festival.

Set to be one of the largest Sikh temples in the UK, the Gurdwara, off Khalsa Avenue, Gravesend, has been under construction for seven years.

Architect Teja Singh Biring said the official opening could be 18 months away, but is confident parts of the unique building can be opened by April.

He said: "The whole building will not be ready in time for Vaisakhi but we are confident some of it could be opened in time for the event.

"The procession will obviously leave from our existing base in Clarence Place but it would be wonderful if we could incorporate entering the new temple as part of the event.

"It won't be a full blown opening. That is likely to come a year later but we are well in to the project and excited about the opening.

"For me this is a unique project and one I am delighted to be a part of. It will be spectacular."

Stonemasons from India have been working for two years on the temple in Khalsa Avenue, which has been clad inside and out with granite and marble.

The roof boasts five elaborate domes, and an intricate heating and ventilation system has been installed inside.

When completed it will house 1,200 worshippers, and will have educational facilities, a lecture theatre, computer room and library. Meeting halls, two kitchens and car parking facilities have also been incorporated in the design.

Mr Biring was inspired by the famous Golden Temple in Amritsar, India, the holiest of places for over 20 million Sikhs worldwide.

He said: This is a place of worship but also a place for the whole community.

"Initially the first floor will open with the dining room, kitchen and one of the smaller prayer rooms.

"When it is full opened the temple will house a lecture theatre, library, general spaces, crèche and main prayer room, this is about the community as a whole."

Gravesend's Sikh community began settling in the town at the turn of the 20th Century.

Before the community bought their current Gurdwara in Clarence Place, Gravesend 1968, they used to gather in each other's homes.

Vaisakhi takes place each year on April 13 and 14.

michael.adkins@archant.co.uk

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