Chelsea Wharf

Quite out of the way from the well known route in London, this hidden gem of a neighbourhood is a lovely discovery where to spend a day wondering around. This isn´t perhaps a place to necessarily see when visiting London(for the first time)  just for a few days, however if you´re a local and think that you´ve  “seen it all”, this might be a corner of the town to discover!

I first came across this area a few years ago while working in the hood. It is a nice mixture of modern architecture and interior design side by side next to derelict historical “leftovers” and secret underground digs. Which unfortunately will soon be replaced with all modern buildings, so if you are into the contrasts, now is a good time to check it out, before it disappears.

We´ll start with Lots Road Power Station, that used to supply electricity to London Underground system. Abandoned and fenced since 2002, its haunting presence was just so tempting to uncover further. How curious it would have been to peek behind those high walls into the machine room of this mysterious derelict building! Unfortunately or not, the power station is currently undergoing the development that will turn it into multi-million pound apartment and business center, all glass and shine. Hopefully they will keep some of the old architecture to revere the past.

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Just opposite the power station there is a small building, that looks more like a cellar door. It looks especially suspicious if you dare to actually look in closer. However, the prison-like door hides an old underground(quite literally) jazz bar and restaurant 606 Club, quite famous on its own. To get in, you have to ring the bell and if you are lucky enough, you´ll be led to the musical underworld(better to book ahead though, as it is quite tiny and can be crowded). A bit worn dig, but with a lot of personality and great vibe!
The club started off in the late 60s at 606 Kings Road(hence the name), before relocating to slightly larger premises on Lots Road in 1988. Being the biggest supporter of British Jazz, the music is on every night of the week!
We went to see Samara featuring Liliana Chachian, who delivered a blend of Brazilian Samba, jazz/Latin and Soul. Next time they are on 24th of June.

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Just around the corner there is Chelsea Wharf Design Centre, open weekdays till  5.30pm. A modern and very beautiful building filled with luxury interior design showrooms and also occasionally hosting design and fashion exhibitions. The interiors of this building is just so amazing, that even if you are not in need of pimping up your home, it is still a lovely place to spend some time and have a cup of coffee at the Dome Café.

The Design Centre is currently hosting an exhibition devoted to ever-loved Marilyn Monroe, “The Legacy of a Legend“.  It is a visual journey into her life, featuring her letters, photographs and diaries, as well as shoes, accessories and costumes worn in famous movies, such as “Niagara” and “No Business Like Show Business”.
Epitomising the high glamour of 1950s Hollywood, the exhibition represents iconic fashion pieces from the David Gainsborough-Roberts collection and includes the sheer beaded dress from ‘Some Like It Hot’.
The exhibition stays open till the 20th of June 2016.

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Behind the Design Centre there is a lovely marina to take a stroll around.

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A few minute walk further, by the Overground Station you can find a fascinating Roca Gallery, designed by Zaha Hadid. It looks like a space ship of its own. The gallery is worth a visit just for the interiors! This extremely talented architect turned the rectangular forms into fluid shapes. The gallery is currently housing an exhibition by architect Anupama Kundoo.
I will definitely keep an eye out for their next showcase – Mode in Flux, that will demonstrate  adaptability in fashion by design innovators. Coats that turn into tents; sportswear that changes colour and texture in response to body temperature; interactive clothes that reveal the wearer’s mood – just a few examples from the upcoming exhibition.

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Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – travelling without moving(much)

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Pristine white marble Hindu temple with exquisite sculptural carvings of deities and ornamental designs. Feels like real beauty of Indian cultural heritage! Except it is not in India, but in London! With Wembley Stadium peeking from behind the building.

An hour of tube ride(well, that depends on where you start from) to the West on Jubilee line, 15 minute walk from Neasden station and you are suddenly elsewhere! The terrace houses recede and give space to a large and amazingly beautiful Hindu temple.
A “secret” part of London you knew nothing about?

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Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is the largest Hindu temple outside of India. Hand carved by skillful artisans according to ancient temple building and decoration traditions in India, all of the marble pieces were shipped over to London and assembled according to old Vedic architectural texts(using no structural steel) like huge Lego blocks, back in 1995.

The temple consists of the Mandir(the main temple) and the Haveli(the “mansion”).
The entrance is in the Haveli part of the building- an intricately carved wooden hall and cultural centre.

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The interior of the temple leaves you gasping for air with its beauty. Bright white marble and limestone sculptures with several colourful altars in between.

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There is an authentic Indian restaurant across the car park. We had Malai Kofta and Paneer Sizzler with some amazing sweet mango lassi and naan breads.

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This corner of London truly leaves you with an experience of a day trip to India, with less hassle tho.
The temple is open daily 9am to 6pm, with all respectful visitors welcome.

Most images from the website