National Trust of Guyana

Versailles Shivala

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Location: Versailles, West Bank Demerara

Classification: Religious

Period/ Year Built: Early 20th century

Historical Background / Description:

The Versailles Shivala is one of the oldest Hindu Shivalas in the country. The Shivala is located in the community of Versailles on the West Bank of Demerara within the compound of the Versailles Hindu Temple. During the early 1900s, Hindus, living on Plantation Versailles requested from the estate manager, a plot of land to build a temple. Permission was granted and a plot of land on what was originally a part of Plantation Malgre Tout was allocated for the temple. A wooden temple with a mud floor along with the Shivala, a temple for Lord Shiva, was constructed and used by the Hindu plantation workers. 

The Shivala was constructed using masonry materials and once completed, the structure consisted of a tall conical shaped roof and an octagonal enclosure plastered with cement and painted white. Additional architectural features of the Shivala include its sikhara, garbagriha, fenestrations of windows and arched openings similar to trefoil arches. In addition to a statue of Lord Shiva being housed in the Shivala, a stone lingam is also housed there. The Shivala is still being used by devotees who would usually throw dhar to Lord Shiva during the early morning periods. The current main temple is a wooden and concrete structure.