The Lion House

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This site is on the Heritage Asset Inventory which is the official list of Trinidad and Tobago’s historic sites that are worthy of notation and preservation. The register is authorized by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago’s Council and is by no means exhaustive. The sites on the Heritage Asset Register are not owned by the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago. The Trust welcomes any historical information and oral histories the public wishes to share with us concerning this site via the feedback form.

The Lion House, is the ancestral home of the Capildeo family. The Lion House stands majestically on the Chaguanas Main Road. Chaguanas is a large town halfway between the cities of Port of Spain and San Fernando in central Trinidad. It is the only building of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Conceived, designed and constructed by the late Pundit Capildeo, it is the standing symbol and memorial to the indentured Indian immigrants, one hundred and twenty thousand of whom came to Trinidad between 1845 and 1917. It is the story of one indentured immigrant’s success and his bequest to the Nation. Pundit Capildeo was born in 1873 in his family’s village of Mahadevadubey in the district of Somra county of Gorakhpur, in the state of Utter Pradash, East Central India. Pundit Capildeo broke the bonds of indentureship and became a highly respected and successful Pundit, ministering to Trinidad’s Hindu community. He also became a successful landowner, businessman and cane farmer. The prototype of the original model on which the building was designed, was a city dwelling in the town of Gorakpur, in the county of the same name, from which Capildeo has emigrated and in which his family had lived, for so many generations and mirrors the early Gupta style of the 5th century A.D.

In 1924 he began the construction of the Lion House which he completed in 1926 and named it Anand Bhavan or the Mansion of Bliss. That same year, he left on one of his many trips to India. He never returned to Trinidad as he died during the course of his visit. Father Anthony de Verteuil in his book, East India Immigrants, describes the Lion House: “Outstanding in its own right, the house has become internationally famous because of its description in cynical style, by Capil’s grandson Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, in his book A House for Mr. Biswas, in which he transforms the lions into representations of the monkey-god Hanuman, Capildeo becoming Tulsi and Chaguanas Arwacas”.

The Lion House has been many things to many people in its early history. It was a meeting place for many travellers from all over Trinidad who were passing through Chaguanas. It was also an early community centre for the residents of Chaguanas and surrounding areas.

Address: Chaguanas Main Road

Town/City: Chaguanas

Region: Chaguanas

Site Type: Cultural Heritage

Ownership: Private

Public Accessibility: Limited Access

Cultural Community: East Indian

Site Features: Residences & Great Houses

 

Address:

Chaguanas Main Road, Chaguanas