Hindu temple opens in former school in Bath after long campaign

  • Watch Robert Murphy's report

Members of Bath's Hindu community have their own temple after a 17-year-long campaign.

They used to have to travel to Bristol, Birmingham, or London to worship but have now taken over part of a former school on the outskirts of the city.

The Shree (or Lord) Jagannatha Temple is not only the first in Bath, it is the first of its kind in Europe.

Campaigner Ashish Rajhansha said it came about because the worshippers were able to link up with the followers of Jagannath who wanted a temple in the UK.

Jagannath - Lord of the universe - is a deity worshipped by Hindus across India and Bangladesh. He is seen by many as an incarnation of Lord Krishna.

One of the worshippers, Sonali Dash, said: "We have the Balaji temple, the Jains have the Oshwal temple and we have the Swaminarayan temple but we haven't got the Jagannath temple which in India is preached all over so we thought, 'Let's get our Jagannath here'."

The deities Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra were brought to Bath from India and given pride of place. Credit: ITV West Country

Painted wooden idols of Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra, and sister Subhadra were brought to Bath from the temple at Puri in India. The deities were installed at the opening of the Shree Jagannatha Temple at the former Bath Community Academy on 22 May 2021.

The High Commissioner of India, the Mayor of Bath, June Player, and Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Shelford were among the guests, although numbers were limited because of Covid restrictions.

According to the census there were 585 Hindus in Bath and North East Somerset in 2011 but the group believes that number is now three times that. It also expects to welcome visitors from across the world because of its status.

Senthill Kumar from Shree Jagannatha Temple said: "If you just take Bath alone you're probably looking at 200 families. It is not going to be just for Bathonians, it's going to be for the whole of UK and Europe and the rest of the world.

"That's the aim. Once we become a known temple then we will get lots of people flocking in from the rest of the country."

This former school building in Bath has a new lease of life as a Hindu temple. Credit: ITV West Country

The Shree Jagannatha Temple in Bath consists of three large halls and one small hall with parking. It means the Hindu community can meet to worship and socialise. It also hopes to welcome people from other faiths.

The temple is open from 11am to 8pm on weekends and from 7.30pm to 8.30pm weekday evenings.

The site is, however, a temporary solution - the community hopes to come up with a permanent building before too long.

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