Martello tower could become shrine

A HINDU couple from Essex have spoken of their hopes to convert a former Martello tower into a shrine for worshippers.

James Hore

A HINDU couple from Essex have spoken of their hopes to convert a former Martello tower into a shrine for worshippers.

Sushila Karia, and her husband Dhirajlal, hit the headlines last year after it emerged more than 50,000 people had visited their Clacton home to pray.

The couple had set up the shrine because the nearest alternative was 45 miles away in London when they moved there 29 years ago.

But now their attention has turned to the Martello Tower F in Marine Parade, which has been put up for sale for �99,950 on a 21-year lease.

The tower, which has more recently been run as a restaurant, dates back to Napoleonic times and was built to counter the threat of invasion.

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But Mrs Karia stressed to the EADT that their dream was at a very early stage with meetings to be arranged with council officials and English Heritage and no sale had been agreed.

They hope by moving to a dedicated temple it would be better for the Hindu community as they had outgrown their shrine in their Coan Avenue home.

She said: “It is an idea - we are going to have a meeting with English Heritage and I will go over all the details with them.

“This temple where we are now is used by so many people, everyone in Clacton and the Tendring area.

“However, even if English Heritage say it is possible, it will be a really, really long project.

“Where we are now is a lovely temple and it is our life but we are thinking about the future now.”

The couple began by just praying in a room as a family after their move from north London 30 years ago.

They then had 17 marble statues of gods and goddesses from India shipped to Essex and installed them in the room.

The temple was given a four-day “inauguration” involving a blessing on a nearby beach with a priest.

When a story about it appeared in an Indian magazine occasional visitors began arriving before its popularity grew and grew.

The temple observes all Hindu rituals and festivals and carries out blessings for weddings, births and deaths and people have visited from all over the country.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk>