East Indian Culture
in Central Trinidad
Join us for a journey down the Caribbean Ganges...
East Indian culture spices the very landscape of central Trinidad, where 42% of the population trace their roots back to the Ganges basin of Northeastern India.
Come escape with us as we go on a pilgrimage of sorts, to spend the day in this community's heartland, Caroni, this little corner of India...
We'll exit the busy Uriah Butler Highway at the booming market town of Chaguanas, named after the Chaguanese Amerindian tribe who once lived here about, and immediately the road is crowded with vendors, and bargain hungry pedestrians. Your exotic adventure's just begun...
On the eastern side of the highway there are sleepy villages, with predominately Hindu communities where East Indian culture rules.
There are said to be some 300 temples in Trinidad, the cinemas here sport marquise advertising the latest Bollywood movies, Saris can be purchased as easily as a cool bottle of beer, and it's not unheard of to see a water buffalo or donkey powered cart, laden down with grass, meandering its way home along the narrow Caroni roads.
Cane Arrows can also sometimes be seen floating above old cane fields in this rolling landscape. The blooms, now just a fading memory of the days when sugar was king.
But we are on our way south, and west, along the Old Southern Main Road. The radio is on and we are listening to a little local Chutney music to enhance your experience. Our first port of call, on our figurative journey along the Ganges, is the Hamuman Murti statue in Carapichaima.
The first time you see the solitary figure you'll have turned off the old main road and traveling west along the Orange Field Road. The statue towers above the village fields, with the Northern Range a faint pregnant bulge on the horizon. The statue is stunning, and powerful. At 85 feet tall it's the highest statue of Lord Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god, outside of India.
Dattatreya Yoga Center
But it is when you arrive at the Dattatreya Yoga Center and Mandir, and park that the size of this sacred image really begins to dawn on you, as does how authentically East Indian culture is represented in the ornate pink, orange and salmon colored buildings, which surround it. You have arrived...
You are in India.
Hanuman is the mighty ape that aided Lord Rama, the protector of gods, one of the most popular idols in the Hindu pantheon, believed to be an avatar of lord Shiva, who is worshiped as a symbol of strength, perseverance and steadfast devotion.
This is East Indian culture at it most magnificent, and even though it was only completed in 2003, this amazing complex, built in the Dravidian style of southern India is, in its own New World way, the equal of many old world religious sites found in Europe, Britain and even the Far East.
Temple by the Sea
Next you'll journey westward for 20-minutes on the Waterloo Road until we can drive no further, and the Temple by the Sea stands before you.
This is another incredible site, best viewed when a perfect sunset paints the Gulf of Paria in colors equal to the brightly colored prayer flags that erupt from the surrounding muddy tidal flats.
The Temple by the Sea is an inspiring story of one man's faith, persistence and untiring devotion, who by share force of will continued to build this temple by hand, block by block, against overwhelming odds.
It's also a place where Hindu funereal pyres are burnt in the old way, as if the departed are on the banks of the Ganges; and it's a great place for bird watching if you are inclined to sit a while.
Barra Plaza, Debe
Time now to start thinking about lunch, and on this occasion we'll drive past Pointe-a-Pierre's oil refineries, where the tang of raw oil floats through the air like a pungent brew of morning coffee, to the once sleepy village of Debe, and it's Barra Plaza.
Here you'll want to treat yourself to a slice of East Indian culture, delicious delicacies like Phoulorie, Trinidad Doubles, Baiganee, Saheena, and curried mango to mention a few.
East Indian Delights
These simple East Indian foods have transformed this quiet village. Where once a few wooden houses stood, now large, prosperous concrete homes fronted by neat take-out counters crowd the bustling intersection.
Alternatively, if you are traveling with a Trinidad tour guide, they will take you for authentic Trinidadian East Indian food, where your meal will be served on a banana leaf in the traditional way and you'll eat with your fingers as East Indian Culture demands. It's a scrumptious, and exotically different luncheon experience, a taste of Trinidad food in all its wondrous diversity.
You are now deep in central Trinidad and close enough to make a quick side trip to either the
La Brea Pitch Lake, an informative addition to your adventure, or journey to thermal vents and mud volcanoes of the Devil's Woodyard.
East Indian Culture
Another alternative is to revisit Chaguanas where the Lion House, immortalized by Trinidad's Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul in his novel "A House for Mr. Biswas", still stands.
Depending on the time of year, because some events are governed by lunar phase, you may be invited to witness other celebrations of Trinidad's East Indian culture like the festival of Holi, or Phagwa as its called in Trinidad, or the Hindu festival of lights at the Diwali Nagara Cultural Center in Chaguanas, or Hosay.
But we are on our way north, because on this day we plan to witness a Caribbean sunset at the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, in the company of Scarlet Ibis and, hopefully, crimson stained skies.
Try ah St. James Roti, an' ah Coconut Water 'round de Savanna
You may decide, like we often do, to end your day of East Indian culture with a mouth watering Trinidad Roti from St. James, and the subtle tropical flavor of a freshly cut coconut water from the Queen's Park Savanna.
There you'll sit on a park bench, opposite the row of eccentrically designed, European styled, Victorian mansions known as the Magnificent Seven, to be fanned by a sultry Caribbean evening breeze as you relax for a moment before returning to your hotel room. What an adventure! It's hard to believe that this was just another day touring Trinidad.
Here's more about Central Trinidad Sightseeing Tours Related Topics... On the Road to Maracas Bay Great Caribbean Scenery at Fort George Hop over to Store Bay for the dayThe Dramatic Beach Scenery of Toco Suggested Topics... Interview with Lifespan of a Chennette Guided Tours Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago HotelsDates for Trinidad and Tobago Festivals GO TO Options... TOP of Trinidad's East Indian CultureBack to Tour Trinidad and TobagoHOME PAGE