This Hindu Temple at Waterloo in Carapichaima, Trinidad is testament of one man’s love of Hinduism. The Temple was the 25-year attempt of Sewdass Sadhu to construct a worship centre at no-man’s land: THE SEA. Sadhu was denied land to build his beloved temple and took his struggle offshore, toiling and unloading buckets of dirt into the Gulf in an effort to create artificial land.
A well known site of worship for Hindus and a tourist attraction, the Waterloo temple was built by Sewdass Sadhu, an indentured laborer who came to Trinidad from India in 1907. This Hindu temple was built through perseverance and strength.
The story is well-known: Sadhu built his first temple in 1947 on lands owned by a sugar cane company. Needless to say, it was broken down and Sadhu was charged with trespassing and given the choice of being fined or 14 days in prison.
Declaring that if he couldn’t build his temple on the land then he would build it in the sea, Sadhu began the work that would become his dream. For the next 25 years, Sadhu dedicated himself to completing the temple. On his bicycle, he carried two buckets and in a leather bag. Stone by stone, he assembled the base of the temple in the sea, steadily determined.
In 1994, the government at the time helped finish the temple in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the coming of Indians to the country. A pier was added to ensure the Waterloo Temple could easily be accessed during high tide. Five hundred feet into the quiet waters of the Gulf of Paria, today it continues to stand on the very spot Sadhu first built it.
Over the years, Hindu devotees and tourists alike have made the journey to the Waterloo temple, also named Sewdass Sadhu Shiv Mandir, in dedication to Sadhu, but better known as the Temple-in-the-Sea, once described as the first of its kind in the western world by Dharmacharya Pundit Krishna Maharaj. The Waterloo Cremation Site is also next to the grounds of this Temple.
The Temple in the Sea, is an octagonal- shaped colorful structure. At the entrance stands a statue of Sadhu himself. Flags and statues adorn the temple’s perimeter. Before entering, as a Hindu custom, you must remove your shoes as once inside you are on holy ground. The beauty of reverence is reflected in the well-crafted murtis (statues/idols) of Lord Hanuman, Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva and Durga Maa with beautiful flowers ornamented around them.
Just as a bit of background, Indo-Trini and Tobagonians have now become interchangeable with West Indians. These were people who were escaping poverty in India and seeking employment offered by the British for jobs either as indentured laborers, workers or educated servicemen, primarily, between 1845 and 1917.
The demand for Indian indentured laborers increased dramatically after the abolition of slavery in 1834. They were sent, sometimes in large numbers, to plantation colonies producing high value crops such as sugar in Africa and the Caribbean, largely in Trinidad and Guyana. These days their culture is a vibrant blend of Indian and Caribbean mix, which is quite colorful and apparent in their music, speech/dialect and cuisine, in particular.
In summary, this Hindu Temple at Waterloo in Carapichaima, Trinidad is testament of one man’s love of Hinduism. The Temple was the 25-year attempt of Sewdass Sadhu to construct a worship centre at no-man’s land: the sea. Sadhu was denied land to build his beloved temple and took his struggle offshore, toiling and unloading buckets of dirt into the Gulf in an effort to create artificial land.