Temples in Trinidad

Enduring faith in the face of disastrous circumstances is a state of being that many people are not equipped to handle. For one man, in the aftermath of World War two, Siewdass Sadhu defied all the odds and built his religious refuge, but not on land. Instead, he built a Temple in the Sea.

For another holy man, His Holiness Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji, he sought to introduce Trinidad to Lord Dattatreya; the manifestation of the divine Trinity of Brahma. The result is the renowned Hanuman Temple, boasting the tallest Hanuman statue outside of India.

On the flip side, the Triveni Mandir in South Trinidad is perhaps the most interactive religious site. Planned, organised and built by not one, but three bordering towns, the Triveni Mandir highlights the journey of an entire congregation of dedicated worshippers.

The Temple in the Sea, Waterloo, Trinidad

Waterloo residents still recall the bravery of the man who singlehandedly built of one Trinidad’s most celebrated Hindu shrines. Despite being jailed for building his holy temple on allotted sugarcane lands, and the jitters of laughter that followed him, Siewdass Sadhu, a poor Indian indentured labourer, laid brick after brick. According to the villagers, Sadhu made a promise to God and sought every way to keep his word.

The temple, which sits quietly in the muddy shores, is seemingly humble at first glance. The lovely dome and stately bridge are indeed awe-inspiring, but architecturally it’s one of Trinidad’s most simple spaces. What the structure lacks in appeal, it makes up for in reverence. It’s inexplicable, but there is a feeling of calm that pervades in and around the shrine. Perhaps taking its cue from its creator, the Temple in the Sea is an monument of what humans are capable of.

After spending time in jail for refusing to take down his temple, Sadhu carried on even after his initial temple was flattened. Sadhu toiled for 25 years in all, taking his land based structure to the sea which released the bounds from the government or other outside parties. Literally carrying stone by stone on his bicycle, Sadhu toted the materials he needed to build his temple.

Many years later, Sadhu was said to have sat for hours in his temple, relishing in his completed promise. He later returned to India, where he died of a heart attack in 1970. Sadhu’s statue stands tall and proud just after the bridge. Be sure to pay homage when you visit one of the holiest religious sites in Trinidad.

The Dattatreya Yoga Centre, Hanuman Temple, Carapichaima, Trinidad

Shameless beauty and intricate architecture, The Dattatreya Yoga Centre, Hanuman Temple, is nestled among the surprisingly upscale village home which was once swathed in the swampy waters of the Caroni swamplands. By large, Indian architecture in Trinidad and Tobago is based on the North Indian (Aryan) model, but the Hanuman Temple is stands apart in its South Indian Dravidian splendour. The Centre’s founder and spiritual leader, 10 1981, Holiness Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji introduced the deity Lord Dattatreya; the manifestation of the divine in the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

After several years, by 1990 the Universal Prayer Hall was built next to the Temple mainly via public donations. In 2000, a South Indian architect was tasked to redesign the compound using 14th century Dravidian architecture. This architectural form has evolved over centuries, making the Dattatreya Centre a truly stunning ode.  On the compound visitors may see the he Vimana, a tower built over the Sanctum of the Deity, the Mandap a pillared used for Hindu wedding ceremonies and the Gopuram,  the monumental feature of Dravidian Temples.

On June 9th 2003, the new Dattatreya Yoga Centre, including the tallest murti of Karya Siddhi Hanuman (85ft) in the western hemisphere, was completed and was inaugurated by Sri Ganapathi Sachchidananda Swamiji. The temple\’s delicate beauty is still perhaps unmatched in Trinidad since the architectural style, from South India, is not the norm.

The Triveni Mandir, Gasparillo, South Trinidad

Built by the villagers of Sister’s Road, St. Julien and Dyers Village, The Triveni Mandir is another one of Trinidad’s most beautiful temples.  Also known as the Sister’s Road Hindu Temple, the white mandir sits atop a hill, with views of the lush lands of South Trinidad.

Many people were involved in the construction and planning of the Triveni Mandir, which perhaps adds to the charm and familial tone of the mandir. Men and women, namely, Pooran Ram, Samraj Maraj, Bready, Rohan, Ramchand, Rampersad, Moon, Kenny, Beta, Mohan, Narine, Vernon, Ramjit, the Balgobin and the Bridgelal family, Chandra, Omah, Sumatie, were part of the lively group, who in 1966 launched their first Hindi class.

Later, in 1970, the temple was reinforced and renamed to reflect the efforts of the three villages. Triveni, which means three in Hindi, and the temple sits on the cusp of the three villages. Very much the same In India where the Ganges, Jamuna and Saraswati rivers all meet, also coined as the Triveni.

Since then, the mandir has been home to many Hindu marriage ceremonies, traditional chowtal and other singing competitions and even classes.

For more information on the Triveni Mandir and other temples in Trinidad, please see a full list of Temples in Trinidad.

Trinidad Temples

Lakshmi Narayan Temple

 

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