- February 11, 2023
- Posted by: Planet Goa Team
- Category: Discover And Explore, Life In Goa, Plan your Trip, See Goa, Sightseeing, Sunday Drives, Trails
Date: 10th February 2023 | Text & Images by Alia BusheriThere’s no denying the fact that you can always find something to do in the evenings; whether you’re in the mood for a live band or a DJ, lots of lights or people, scrumptious food or experimental cocktails. But there is also a Goa beyond the beaches, amidst the natural landscapes, wildlife and heritage; a critical essence of Goa that I love to explore.
Thus began the journey to the historical and stunning Sri Mahadeva Tambdi Surla Temple. It was the middle of June, so monsoon was just around the corner. Although it was humid, there was a delightful coolness in the air to lighten that weight. Monsoon is a great time for sightseeing if getting wet doesn’t bother you because the perks are great. You get gorgeous views, the lush and rain-washed greens, fewer people and fantastic weather, filled to the brim water bodies and full force waterfalls, all of which creates a delicious mood.
We drove through Bastora which is a very serene and a much quieter part of Goa, including its adjacent vaddos. All of these areas still have a village-y vibe that contributes significantly to making the drive appealing and smooth. On moving from Panolem to Vanguinim, you get to experience driving over the railway tracks but if you’re lucky enough to be there at the right time, you get to watch the train pass by, and feel your car and the road beneath wobble with the intensity. We were lucky!
The drive got better as the roads wind their way through the forest. We arrived at the location of the oldest temple in Goa. As soon as you enter, you’ve got a pathway that is like a wide bridge with a small stretch of the river on one side and the forest on the other. The river has a few fruit trees around it with many macaques lounging out on their branches. Whenever the monkeys would walk on the branches, some of the fruits dislodged and plonked into the river creating a fun, silly sound; almost like a ‘budink!’. This sound is mostly consistent which adds a quirky background sound for some part of the walk. As you go further, you finally see the Sri Mahadeva Temple in a forest clearing, pristine and protected in all its glory.
It’s architecturally magnificent, built in the 12 th century by carving into black basalt stone and is the only one of its kind in Goa. The carvings are intricate and undeniably exquisite; like stories drawn in stone. The entrance is supported by four pillars that also have carvings. The center has a Nandi idol and is surrounded by low walls for visitors to sit. The ceiling has lotus flowers carved on them but from the outside they just look like grey slabs stacked to form a pitched roof. This area immediately opens into the interior where there is a dimly lit idol of Shiv linga. At the entrance of this interior are two big stones placed on the floor on either side, with cobra carvings on them. Rumor has it that a king cobra resides inside, too, but unfortunately, we couldn’t see it. On the outside of the temple, on the back wall, there were two coin sized, shallow, circle dents. We found out that if you take a coin (we had 2-rupee coins) and press it into the dent with the number facing you and straight up, it stays stuck on the wall! Some kind of magnetic energy makes it happen. But honestly, it felt a little more magical than that. Since the temple is located in the middle of the forest and quite far away from any habitat, the temperature is pretty pleasant all year round. It really is so picturesque.
The Tambdi Surla waterfall exists here, too and you can trek to it. It takes roughly an hour and you could either go with a guide or on your own. Since it was getting late, we decided to go on our own for a small part of the trek. We walked until we found a nice clearing and decided to hang out there for a little while before heading back. It was great. You can hear the diverse life thriving all around you and the dense greenery looks beautiful. We even saw a langur!
While leaving, right outside in the parking lot, there are a few stalls that sell some snacks and tea. We decided to get some chai and onion pakoras. And frankly, I don’t know if it was the trip or just a fact, those were some of the tastiest pakoras I’ve ever had in Goa.
Pro-tip: Places to visit close by:
– Mollem National Park
– Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary
– Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary