In May of 1845, the first indentured laborers from India sailed to Trinidad aboard the Fatel Razack. You know the story – they were promised jobs and a free ride home back to India after the job was done. Upon arrival, they were essentially enslaved, forced to work in subhuman conditions and paid measly wages and, in some cases, paid in rum.
Today, close to half of Trinidad’s people are descendants of these same indentured laborers. In a small, mostly Indian town on the west coast of Trinidad sits Carapichaima. A short(ish) drive from Port of Spain, you can visit three attractions in the area that shed a bit of insight into the Indian community in Trinidad. Best of all, they’re all free – no need to look for travel deals or coupons to enjoy the area.
At a Hindu temple in Waterloo stands – or should I say, towers – a Hanuman murti at an incredible 85 feet tall. Reportedly the second tallest Hanuman figure in the world. When we were visiting the ashram around the figure, there was an Indian wedding going on inside. The groom sat outside, all smiles, while wedding attendees passed by him shaking his hand and giving him money before they took off their shoes to head inside.
#2: Temple in the Sea
Former indentured laborer Siewdass Sadhu was inspired to build a mandir on a piece of land he purchased in Waterloo. After construction was complete, he was ordered to tear it down by Caroni (1975) Ltd., the same enterprise that sold him the land in the first place. He then vowed to build his mandir in the sea, because no one owns the sea and therefore no one could destroy it.
There is a tranquility that radiates from the area, which alone makes it well worth the visit. Hindu prayer flags line the land outside of the mandir, swaying in the coastal winds.
#3: The Indian Caribbean Museum
A newer addition to the area is the Indian Caribbean Museum, recognized as the only one of its kind. It’s dedicated to preserving the history, culture, traditions, and struggles of the Indian people. The proud man who was working on the day I checked it out was very knowledgeable and makes a great resource for people learning about this side of Trinidad’s history.
The museum is on Waterloo Main Road and is open Wednesdays to Sundays, 10 am to 5 pm. Phone: 868-673-7007. No cameras are allowed.