Leamington's £11m Sikh Temple ready to open its doors

It has taken nine years, cost £11 million and now covers 4,280 sq m, but Leamington and Warwick's new Sikh temple is finally complete.

Members of the area's Sikh community are preparing for an nine-day celebration to mark the official opening of the Gurdwara Sahib on the Queensway trading estate, starting on Sunday.

Thanking everyone who has contributed to the project, the temple's general secretary Jagtar Singh Gill said: "After many years of waiting, the congregation have what they wanted."

Communications officer Rajvinder Singh Mann said: "Sunday will be a true milestone both for the Sikh community and the region as a whole.

"A project of this size can only have been possible with the unstinting support of the entire congregation both in terms of finances and the many hours that people have devoted to make this dream a reality."

Plans to build the four-storey building began in 2000 with a pledge from 240 families to raise 1 million.

The overall scheme has cost 11 million - completely funded by the area's Sikh community.

Lead architect Phillida Turrell from MPC, the building's designers, said: "Every part of this project has been a real challenge - on the plans I had to draw in every single block.

"But when you stand in front of the Gurdwara Sahib and see it in all its glory, then it all becomes worth it.

"It's been a great project to work on."

But not everyone has reacted positively to the new building.

An ongoing debate on the Courier's blog recently received the following post from an anonymous reader: "It's totally unnecessary for it to be so big and its completely out of place in its surroundings. Walking in the car park of Sainsbury's makes me feel like I'm in a scene from Aladdin."

Another reader wrote: "I think is a blooming eyesore. Why do we have to have such a building in Royal Leamington Spa?

"Have one by all means, but this size is ridiculous, whoever paid for it.

"It should never have been passed and I feel like I am in the middle of India, not England. It is a disgrace!"

But others have defended the temple. One blog contributor pointed out that the structure was entirely funded by the Sikh community, adding: "If it was a Christian church people would not be kicking up such a fuss."

Another wrote: "Most people from Leamington and Warwick would have grown up with Sikh friends or colleagues and know they have the same ideals as the rest of us.

"Perhaps its detractors should look in the mirror and do some soul-searching on how they stain the beauty of this planet, let alone Royal Leamington Spa."

*What do you think about the new Sikh temple? Post a comment on the Courier blog at theleamingtoncourier.blogspot.com

Alternatively, email editorial@leamingtoncourier.co.uk or call 457737.

The temple's official opening ceremony will begin with prayers on Sunday at 9am, followed by events all day until 6.30pm.

People can join in a procession through south Leamington and Whitnash between 11am and 3pm and there will be tours of the temple and food and drink.

Celebrations will continue every day until Monday November 2, including Khalsa kids' club, film screenings, talks and a fireworks display.

A crew from the Sikh Channel will be paying a visit to broadcast live on television.

For a full programme of events, visit www.gurdwara-leamingtonandwarwick.co.uk or call 424297.

Anyone who cannot make it on Sunday can still take part in a free tour on Saturdays between 10am and 3pm between November 7 and December 5.

Email tours@gurdwara-leamingtonandwarwick.co.uk