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Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in United Kingdom

ISKCON, Leicester, UK

(International Society for Sri Krishna Consciousness)

ISKCON Leicester

31 Granby Street

(Only open for festivals and Sunday Programs)

Mobile: +44 (0) 7597 786 676

ISKCON is dedicated to the practices of spiritual life based on the Vaishnava tradition that emerged in the 1600’s through the teachings of Sri Chaitanya. With a focus on mantra meditation, cultivation of spiritual wisdom and working in devotion, we welcome you to join the many programmes, festivals and celebrations held around the City.

Since the 1970’s, devotees of ISKCON have come to Leicester to teach the message of Lord Krishna. A temple was established in the early 1980’s on Belgrave Road, before moving to a terraced house in the same area. As activities grew it was time to move to a larger property, and so a temple was established on Thoresby Street, North Evington. This remained as a temple and a home for ISKCON Leicester for many years and saw a growth in the community, its celebrations, festivities and presence across the City.
On 3rd September 2010 there was a massive explosion in the temple. By the grace of Lord Krishna, no one was harmed and, miraculously, the presiding deities Sri Sri Pança Tattva together with Srila Prabhupada were untouched in the devastation.
In the following months, the community moved from venue to venue to hold our weekly Sunday programme and festivals, while during the weekday, many families opened up their homes to host reading groups and kirtan programmes. The search for a permanent based continued.
In December 2011, ISKCON Leicester acquired one of the most iconic buildings – the former HSBC Bank on Granby Street, right at the heart of the City. This will now be the home of ISKCON Leicester. One very generous family from Leicester and London gifted the building to ISKCON.
The building is now under renovation work. Once complete it will be a very active community hub offering:
1.      A Heritage Room
o    capturing the architecture of Goddard
o    displaying the original drawings and details from 1875
o    learning activities for schools and colleges
o    artefacts from the Goddard family
2.    A Meditation Hall
o    breakfast and lunch yoga sessions
o    regular meditation blending music, mantra and dance
o    self-development courses
o    philosophy, poetry and lecture evenings
3.    A Restaurant
o    international cuisine experience
o    lunch and evening menus
o    ambient and calm feeling
o    art gallery of the historic bank
4.    A Café
o    variety of coffees, milk shakes and smoothies
o    home-made breads, cakes and delicacies
o    a place for thought, reflection and reading
o    books to celebrate Leicester’s 165 languages
5.     A Venue
o    civic gatherings
o    meetings and training events
o    banquets, receptions and themed parties
o    special events and festivals
In the meantime, the ISKCON community continues to meet at various locations around the city during the week..
Our weekly Sunday Program will be held at our new centre at 31 Granby Street, Leicester, LE1 6EP.
The majority of ISKCON’s programs are held in the building (31 Granby St). Our weekly Sunday Program is from 2pm-5:30pm. For other events see our events and education pages.


Continuing a legacy...
In 1965, at the tender age of 69, Srila Prabhupada (as he was informally known) sailed to the United States in a cargo ship to spread the teachings of Krishna Consciousness. When he first arrived by freighter in New York City, he was practically penniless. It was after almost a year of great difficulty that he established the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in July of 1966. Under his careful guidance, the Society grew within a decade to a worldwide confederation of over one hundred temples, schools, institutes and farm communities. In the last ten years of his life, in spite of his advanced age, Srila Prabhupada circled the globe twelve times on lecture tours that took him to six continents. He made over 5000 disciples around the world, from a variety of backgrounds, and established the Ratha Yatra street festival in most of the major cities of the world.
Srila Prabhupada also wrote over sixty volumes of authoritative translations, commentaries and summary studies of the philosophical and religious classics of India. Highly respected by the academic community for their authoritativeness, depth and clarity, they are used as standard textbooks in numerous college courses. His writings have been translated into twenty languages.
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust, established in 1972 exclusively to publish his books, has become the world’s largest publisher of books in the field of Indian religion and philosophy. Thus, today Srila Prabhupada is recognised as one of India’s greatest spiritual ambassadors of the 20th Century.


What is the Hare Krishna Philosophy?

The term "Hare Krishna" or The Hare Krishna Movement™, formally The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is the orthodox core of Hinduism. It was registered in the West (in New York) in July 1966, but dates back over 5000 years. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1532) popularised the movement all over India. Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion with over 900 million adherents, second to Christianity and Islam (according to various leading encyclopedias, websites and almanacs). The principal scriptures are The Bhagavad-Gita (The Song of God), and the Srimad Bhagavatam (the story of the Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna Bhagavan). The Hare Krishnas’ believe in one God.
The basic Hare Krishna beliefs can be summarized as follows:
1.      By sincerely cultivating true spiritual science, we can be free from anxiety and come to a state of pure, unending, blissful consciousness in this lifetime.
2.    We are not our bodies but eternal, spirit souls, parts and parcels of God (Krishna). As such, we are all brothers, and Krishna is ultimately our common father. We accept the process of transmigration of the soul (reincarnation).
3.    Krishna is eternal, all-knowing, omnipresent, all-powerful, and all-attractive. He is the seed-giving father of all living beings, and He is the sustaining energy of the entire cosmic creation. He is the same God as The Father Allah, Buddha and Jehovah.
4.    The Absolute Truth is contained in the Vedas, the oldest scriptures in the world. The essence of the Vedas is found in the Bhagavad-Gita, a literal record of Krishna's words.
5.     One can learn the Vedic knowledge from a genuine spiritual master -- one who has no selfish motives and whose mind is firmly fixed on Krishna.
6.    Before one eats, one offers to the Lord (Krishna) the food that sustains all humans; then Krishna becomes the offering and purifies the offered.
7.     One performs all actions as offerings to Krishna and does nothing for one's own sense gratification.
8.    The recommended means for achieving the mature stage of love of God in this age of Kali, or quarrel, is to chant the holy names of the Lord. The easiest method for most people is to chant the Hare Krishna mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.


The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) was established in New York in 1966. However, it is not a new religion. Its founder, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, represents a tradition tracing back to Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. It was Chaitanya Himself, who appeared in a succession of teachers dating back thousands of years in India. This lineage, called the Brahma-Madhva Gaudiya sampradaya, is one of the four principle traditions of Vaishnavas, those who worship Lord Krishna or Lord Vishnu as Supreme.
Vaishnavism is one of the main theological schools within the tradition broadly defined by the word Hinduism. However, the terms “Hindu” and “Hinduism” are not found in any of the scriptures. They were coined by the Persian invaders to refer to the religion and culture of the people beyond the River Sindhu (now called the Indus in modern Pakistan). Hinduism has been used to refer to the totality of India’s religious culture, apart from those faiths originating outside of India, such as Christianity; it includes those, which arose within this context but have since defined themselves as distinctive traditions, such as Buddhism and Sikhism.
Many adherents of the tradition prefer the term ‘sanatan-dharma’. This term refers to the eternal function of the living being, understood as service to God. It implies that genuine religion is above temporary designations of faith, gender, colour, nationality and species. The principles of sanatan-dharma are enunciated in the sacred texts called the Vedas.
Key figures in the tradition
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is considered to be an incarnation of both Lord Krishna and his consort Radha-rani. He was born in Bengal in 1486. He taught the chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra while travelling for six years throughout India and He spent His final eighteen years in Jagannatha-Puri. There He displayed the sublime emotions of one absorbed in love of God.
Chaitanya’s immediate followers, the Six Goswamis (Rupa, Sanatan, Jiva, Gopal Bhatta, Raghunath Bhatta and Raghunath das) drew on Vedic evidence to consolidate and document His teachings. One of the most significant teachings of Chaitanya include the belief that individual souls are simultaneously the same and different from a personal God.


Granby Street, Joseph Goddard & Gothic Architecture
The former bank, at 31 Granby Street, Leicester has long been acknowledged as a landmark in Leicester’s Victorian architecture. The building was built, as the headquarters of the Leicestershire Banking Company, at a time when Leicester was in the throes of a conflict of styles between the classic and the gothic. The architect of the building, Joseph Goddard, also accepted commissions from the banking company for branches throughout the East Midlands, many of which are still used today.
The Leicestershire Banking Company was established in 1829 to finance the burgeoning industries of Leicester. By 1840, the bank stood at Granby Street. The Three Crowns Hotel had previously stood here for more than a century, providing rooms and refreshments for travellers on the busy route between London and Manchester.
By 1872 the expansion of the bank’s business required a similar growth in its premises. Local architects were asked to submit their designs for a new bank in an open competition.
The winner of the competition was Joseph Goddard. He had already played an important part in introducing Victorian gothic architecture to Leicester in his design of the famous clock tower. His winning design for the bank was a deliberate contrast to the classical design of the new building of the bank’s rivals, the National Provincial Bank (today’s NatWest branch). The spectacular gothic building was executed in red brick and Portland stone with an unusual corner porch and French pavilion roofs. The front to Granby Street is particularly impressive with its three tall-decorated windows. The finished building cost £7439 and opened for business in 1874.
The interior of the bank is also a masterpiece of design. The enormous hammer beams form a lantern roof giving the building a lofty and imposing atmosphere. The pillars are hand-carved with individual friezes and each corbel stone is decorated with a different coat of arms. These heraldic arms belong to those towns and cities where the Leicestershire Banking Company carried on its business. It is not certain whether or not the stained glass windows were part of the original plan as they display certain art nouveau features. The clock in the banking hall was made by Dent’s of Southwark, also responsible for Big Ben. The portraits in the banking hall depict H Simpson Gee and Samuel Bankart, past chairman of the Leicestershire Banking Company.
The bank was so pleased with Goddard’s work that it continued to press commissions, for new bank buildings, on him throughout the remainder of the century. These include the banks at Uppingham, Wellingborough and Ashby-de-la-Zouch. These branches show the evolution of Goddard’s style away from the Victorian gothic towards a more restrained domestic revival and Queen Ann Style.
The Leicestershire Banking Company amalgamated with Midland Bank in 1890 and all it’s branches, including Granby Street branch (now a grade two listed building), became part of the bank’s network.
The building has now been acquired by ISKCON with the aspiration of making it a community hub and contributing to the regeneration of the cultural quarter of the City.


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