Page last updated at 08:33 GMT, Monday, 10 November 2008

11m Sikh temple nears completion

Gravesend gurdwara
The roof of the temple in Gravesend now boasts five elaborate domes

An 11m project to build a Sikh temple in north Kent will be finished on time, despite the global economic downturn, community leaders have said.

The Gravesend gurdwara has been under construction for the past seven years, and is due to open in time for the Sikh New Year Vaisakhi festival in 2009.

It has been paid for entirely by the Sikh community in north Kent, and partly built by volunteers.

The building is set to be one of the largest Sikh temples in the UK.

Architect Teja Singh Biring said: "Nobody has let the side down. The community have been funding it and the banks have been very positive as well."

And site manager, Balwant Singh Hayre, said: "Everybody is working hard because we committed the community definitely to open on Vaisakhi."

Gravesend gurdwara
The gurdwara is set to be one of the largest Sikh temples in the UK

He said the community was "looking forward" each day to the progress and completion of the project in time for the festival which is celebrated on 13 or 14 April.

Stonemasons from India have been working for two years on the temple in Khalsa Avenue, which has been clad inside and out with granite and marble.

The roof now boasts five elaborate domes, and an intricate heating and ventilation system has been installed inside.

The building will be able to house 1,200 worshippers, and will have educational facilities, a lecture theatre, computer room and library. It will also have meeting halls, two kitchens and car parking.

Gravesend's Sikh community began settling in the town at the turn of the 20th Century. Before the community bought their current gurdwara in 1968, they used to gather in each other's homes.

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