One rainy day after a dental appointment and some errands, I felt like taking a long moonlit walk on the beach….but it was still daylight. So, instead of going home, I drove to the Temple in the Sea officially known as the Sewdass Sadhu Shiv Mandir located in Waterloo.
The Tranquil Location
I got there at 5pm and had the temple site all to myself for a while. You are greeted by the sounds of gently crashing waves beside a long walkway adorned with flowers and murtis (statues of Hindu gods) that leads you out to the temple complex in the sea. If it’s open, you can enter the actual prayer area and view the traditional murtis. Outside the temple, you will find spectacular views of the coastline, stunning sunsets, fishing boats and several species of birds. I was lucky to find what I estimated to be over 300 little birds sitting on the rocks outside the temple’s sea barriers. My inner child wanted to disrupt them to see them all fly off but, my outer adult opted not to do so. However, an actual little kid showed up and did just that, so I was able to capture a few photos. There are several coloured flags both within and outside the temple’s walls. Each flag represents an instance that a Pooja (prayer ceremony) was conducted and each colour exemplifies a different god.
The History: A Story of Sacrifice and Determination
In the 1930s, a poor indentured labourer, Sewdass Sadhu, unable to continue making his pilgrimage trips back to his place of birth India, decided to build a place of worship himself locally. After many months, he built a temple on unused swamp land near the shore of the Gulf of Paria. He created a place of worship and opened it to the public. Shortly after, the temple was demolished when the courts ruled in favour of the sugar company that owned the land. Sadhu was fined and incarcerated briefly for trespassing.
In 1948, unable to build on the land, he decided to build in the sea. Sadhu dumped broken bricks, concrete and sand into the sea and started by building out the path. For 25 years, against the odds, the construction was done day after day with his bare hands, his bicycle and buckets. He died in 1970. His temple remained unmaintained till 1994 when the government of Trinidad and Tobago began restoration works. In 1995, the completed temple was dedicated to Sewdass Sadhu.
The temple is still fully operational and definitely worth the trip. There are no entrance or parking fees and donations of your choosing are welcome. Weddings, Poojas and other Hindu ceremonies are regularly performed at the temple, so please do remember to be respectful during your visit.
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