The Indian Heritage Monument

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The Indian Monument Site, which was built to commemorate the arrival of the first indentured East Indians who arrived on 5th May, 1838 on the coolie ships “Whitby” and “Hesperus,” is located at the corner of Church Street and Camp Street, opposite to St. Rose’s High School.
During the presidency of Hugh Desmond Hoyte (1929-2002), it was decided to commemorate both the 150th anniversary of the end of the Apprenticeship System and the 150th Anniversary of the Arrival of East Indians in 1988.
In August 1987, Mr. (now Dr.) Yesu Persaud was unanimously elected the Chairman of the 150th Anniversary Committee, which included Roy Prashad, Ishmael Bacchus, Fazia Bacchus, Ronald Alli, Hemraj Kissoon, Patrick Dial, Ayube Hamid, Dr. Iris Sukdeo, Dr. Fred Sukdeo and Lloyd Searwar.
In May 1988, Mr. Yesu Persaud met privately with the then Vice President of India, Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, who was in Guyana representing the Government of India and conveyed to him the fervent desire of the Committee to build a monument to commemorate the arrival of East Indians in Guyana. Dr. Sharma was of like mind and promised that the Government of India would commit itself to this project.
The committee, having identified a suitable site opposite St. Rose’s High School on Church Street, approached the Mayor of Georgetown, Compton Young, who advised that the site chosen was topographically low and would be susceptible to flooding. The Committee solved this problem by filling the site with about 1000 loads of dirt and sand.
A countrywide competition was then held for the design of the monument and hundreds of entries were received by the Committee, most of which included a sailing ship in the design.
The winning entry was that of a sailing ship, which was then cast in India and now forms the centerpiece of the Monument Gardens.
Since then, other additions have been made to the Monument Gardens, especially the permanent stage. The Heritage site is managed by the Indian Commemoration Trust which succeeded the 150th Anniversary Committee.

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