TRINIDAD/TOBAGO, April 26, 2013 (Guardian): Quick action by a 27-year-old lover of historical buildings saved a Hindu temple in Reform Village, constructed in the 1940s from gobar (cow dung) and other materials, from possible demolition or modification by the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha. Liam Boodoo, a Spanish teacher at Couva East Secondary and also a photographer and budding historian, made a determined bid to save what he is referring to as scarce East Indian-built heritage in T&T.
He said the Reform Village Hindu School is on the same property as the temple and the Maha Sabha, which runs the school, wanted to build an addition which would have affected the structure of the mandir. He got the intervention of the National Heritage Trust by seeking to have the building listed as a protected site. Boodoo said plans to demolish the temple or modify it have since been halted.
He said the temple was constructed by Reform Village residents in the early 1940s and designed by a craftsman from the Sidoo family of Debe, during a period of transition from indentureship to small peasant proprietorship. The land was paid for in advance for 100 years by members of the community.
Boodoo said the temple was patterned after those found in the central states of India and was plastered on the inside with gobar, and reinforced with sand and gravel from the Guaracara River and stones from the San Fernando Hill quarry. The Shiva Mandir was opened on March 2, 1946, Maha Shivratri night--an auspicious night on the Hindu calendar--Boodoo told a gathering of members of Citizens for Conservation at the Medulla Art Gallery on Fitt Street, Woodbrook, during a presentation on the temple recently.
"Any modification to the temple will destroy the original structure," Bodoo said. He said in an attempt to stave off the plan, he spoke to architects Geoffrey Maclean and Rudylyn Roberts, of CFC, and they suggested he do a dossier of the temple and submit it to the National Heritage Trust for listing as a protected building. "I got a reply from the National Heritage Trust last Monday and was told they contacted the relevant parties and it was agreed plans would be revised so as not to negatively impact the mandir," he said.