The London Peace Pagoda
At a quick glance, you may be forgiven for thinking that the image below was snapped in southeast Asia; Cambodia or Vietnam perhaps?
In fact this beautiful peace pagoda is located in Battersea Park, right beside the southern shore of the River Thames.
Officially known as the London Peace Pagoda, this sacred place was gifted to the capital by a Japanese Buddhist sect called Nipponzan Myohoji in 1985.
The founder of Nipponzan Myohoji was the Most Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii, who was born on a remote Japanese island on 6th August 1885.
Nichidatsu Fujii embraced a commitment to peace from an early age. When he was 19, he shunned the military career that was expected of him, choosing instead to become a Buddhist monk.
During the 1930s he travelled to India and became close friends with Mahatma Gandhi.
On the 6th August 1945, Nichidatsu Fujjii turned sixty. By an awful coincidence, this was the exact same date on which the the atomic bomb known as Little Boy was detonated over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, followed a few days later by a second nuclear strike on Nagasaki.
Horrified by these new weapons, Nichidatsu Fujii consequently vowed to face the threat by building a series of peace pagodas across the world. The first of these was unveiled in Rajgir, India in 1969.
Pagodas for Britain
In 1980, the first peace pagoda in Britain was installed beside Willen Lake in the new city of Milton Keynes. It was the first such structure to be built in the west.
The London peace pagoda followed five years later and was erected by Buddhist monks and nuns. As the structure neared its completion, Nichidatsu Fujii stated:
“I am delighted with the appearance of the precious stupa in London. May it assemble every effort to create peace. My wish has been accepted without question by the people of London and the world… nothing gives me greater happiness than this in my whole life.”
Sadly Nichidatsu Fujii died shortly before the London pagoda was complete. He was 100 years old.
Life of Buddha on the London Peace Pagoda
The London pagoda features four sacred, gilt-bronze statues which chronicle the most significant stages in the Buddha’s life: birth, contemplation leading to enlightenment, teaching and death.
The pagoda also hosts a number of ceremonies through the year, including the 9th August- Nagasaki Day- when, at dusk, a floating lantern ceremony takes place on the Thames to commemorate all victims of war.
How to get there
The London peace pagoda is located to the north of Battersea Park and is open to the public all year round. It’s the perfect place to come and contemplate; a true oasis of calm in the midst of a chaotic city.
The nearest station is Battersea Park and the area is served by bus routes 44, 137, 156, 344 and 452.
Check out the rest of my site for more amazing places in London to visit.