10 unusual parks or gardens in London…5. Tibetan Peace Garden, Imperial War Museum…

PICTURE: J Nathan Matias (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

A fitting location for such a place of reflection, the Tibetan Peace Garden can be found near the Imperial War Museum in Kennington.

The Language Pillar. PICTURE: Robert (licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)

The circular garden, located in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, was commissioned by the London based Tibet Foundation and opened by the Dalai Lama in May, 1999. It was named ‘Samten Kyil’, which is Tibetan for ‘Garden of Contemplation’.

The garden features several sculptural elements carved from Portland stone. The work of sculptor, Hamish Horsley, they include The Language Pillar – based on the historic 9th century treaty stone known as Sho Pillar in the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet – on which is carved a welcome message from the Dalai Lama in English, Tibetan, Chinese and Hindi.

There are also four “gateways” depicting the elements of air, fire, earth and water as well as a blue stone disk representing the fifth element of space. At the centre of the garden is a bronze cast depicting the Kalachakra Mandala which was designed by Tibetan monks in India.

The inner gardens are planted with herbs and plants from Tibet and the Himalayan regions, while the pergola is covered with climbing plants, including jasmine, honeysuckle and scented roses.

WHERE: Tibetan Peace Garden, Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, St George’s Road (nearest Tube stations are Lambeth North and Elephant & Castle); WHEN: Daily; COST: Free; WEBSITE: www.southwark.gov.uk/parks-and-open-spaces/parks/geraldine-mary-harmsworth-park.

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