The Exchange Village Shiv Mandir is the one of the oldest original standing temples in Trinidad and Tobago. The only change to the temple was the addition of an aluminum roof in 1985. Made largely of mud, it is also the longest-occupied temple in the country. The temple is also unique because it was built around 1920 by indentured immigrants from India who lived in nearby barracks.
This temple is made of cow dung and is white washed with lime. Dried cow dung can often be damaged by termites. To avoid this pest, the cow’s dung cellulose was mixed with the mud to create a termite-resistant and sturdy structure, and plaster work.
The Exchange Shiv Mandir has a superstructure which has a dome (called Shikhara in north India, and Vimana in south India) that stretches towards the sky. The temple’s vertical dimension cupola (dome) symbolises the cosmic mountain on which Lord Shiva resides.
There are four doors in the temple representing the four cardinal points. In keeping with Hindu sacred architecture [vastu], devotees must enter the temple through the eastern door and leave through the western exit. The front door is dedicated to Surya [Sun God].
Address: Exchange Village, Couva, Trinidad and Tobago
Town/City: Exchange Village
Region: Couva – Tabaquite – Talparo
Site Type: Cultural Heritage
Grade: Grade 1 – property in which there should be no change, nor alteration to its shape or form, nor in or upon any material object, plant or other thing that may deform or deface the property
Site Features: Places of Worship
Trinidad and Tobago