Religious sites in Verulam

2017-07-27 06:02
Officials of the Shree Gopal Lal Hindu Temple.Photo: supplied

Officials of the Shree Gopal Lal Hindu Temple.Photo: supplied

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RECORDS from the temple reflect that some of the indentured labourers were housed in barracks and worked in Mount Moreland Sugar Estate in 1880. Each Sunday, their only free day, they walked to the nearby Umdloti River and met on the north bank.

The temple said in a statement: “They [indentured labourers] conducted their prayers around a hastily constructed structure to serve as a place of worship. The Ramayan was recited and they would socialise by singing, dancing as well as engaging in sports such as wrestling, stick fighting and gymnastics and often sharing communal meals prepared on site.

“However, the river often came down in flood and washed away their place of worship, forcing them to cross the river and move to higher ground in Temple Valley, Verulam.”

Around 1888 a piece of land was donated by an indentured labourer, Babu Talwantsingh.
A wood and iron building was built immediately and served as a temple.

“The main shrine was dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the smaller one towards the north to Lord Shiva. The temple derived its name after Lord Krishna as the cowherd, hence the name Shree Gopal Lal Hindu Temple. Around 1893, two permanent shrines were built by a Gujarathi builder, Ramjee Hari.

“The Shree Gopal Lal Hindu Temple Trust was registered on August 24, 1896. The first three elected trustees were, Talwantsingh, Bhujjun Maharaj and Kulpee. The building of the hall commenced in 1908 and completed in 1913.  The official opening was performed by Advocate MK Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi on May 15, 1913.”

Other places of worship for the Hindu community of Verulam is the Shri Siva Subramaniar Alayan Umdloti Drift was established in 1900 by Narainsamy Naidoo, Rugavaloo Chetty, Arunajellam Moodley and Doobur[who donated the land for the temple]. The original structure was simple wood-iron buildings.

According to a book, Verulam Brochure, floods from the Umdloti River caused havoc and the temple was almost destroyed in 1917.

Another interesting place of worship that has captured the eyes of tourists is the Methodist Church in Groom Street, near the Verulam Magistrate’s Court. It is said to be the third oldest temple in KZN. It was built in June, 1851.

Although, the building is neglected and its structures falling apart, it still attracts people doing the history about Verulam.  

The Muslim community played a major role in the history of Verulam. Sunni Mosque is in central Verulam in Wick Street, with palm trees in the front that are over 80 years old. According to the records, the Mosque Trust was established around 1872.

The actual Mosque site was donated by Muslim philanthropist, Aboobakr Amod from India. Thereafter, the trustees of the mosque also purchased [another] two pieces of land on July 9, 1901.

One of the members from the Mosque Shabeer Akbar (59) told the Weekly that his grandfather, Sayed Akbar planted the palm trees at the Sunni Mosque.

“He was a bookkeeper by profession. He planted the palm trees in the 1940’s. He then went into business with his son Ismail Akbar known as Akbar Trading Store.”

Another religious place of worship for the Indian community is Shri Siva Subramaniar Alayan Umdloti Drift that was established in 1900. According to a history book, Verulam­ Brochure, floods of Umdloti caused havoc and the temple was almost destroyed in 1917.

The early white setters also built many Christian churches in the area­.

Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church was founded by Reverend Father Mathieu Omi in 1896.

He started off with the sanctuary and part of the transept of the first church in 1896, the rest of the building took place in 1901.

Another old Christian church in Verulam­ is St Thomas Anglican Church in Wick Street.

Adding up to the Indian places of worship is Shree Emperumal Temple.

The temple is next to the Verulam crematorium.

It was built in 1937 in Canelands, and in 1982 moved to Everest Heights.

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