Temples of Goa

Goa – especially areas which came under the Portuguese rule centuries after the initial conquest, boast of architecturally rich temples with exquisitely sculpted stone icons, tall deep-sthambs, and beautiful water reservoirs. The deep-sthambs are light towers and in few of the Goan temples, these are simply toweringly handsome. They are also a curious blend of architectural styles and stand outside the temples like giant guardians. The temples were usually constructed near rivers, or lakes and in the absence of these, an artificial reservoir was built usually fed by a spring.

These water bodies probably enabled the devotees who travelled long and weary way either by foot or bullock carts to wash and clean themselves before Halasige (Halasi) and other up-Ghat trade centers lie the ruins of the temple complex of Vaishnavites in village of Vichundrem which belonged to the eleventh century Kadamba era. There are two temple plinths, one of Shri Narayandev and another of Mahishasurmardini whose statue found in the vicinity is said to be one of the best specimens of Kadamba sculpture. Carvings of wild animals like the deer, sambar and tiger are seen on the plinth which makes one admire the minute workmanship which is so difficult on soft laterite. A beautifully carved stone sculpture of Shri Narayandev still presides and is worshipped by the locals. A stone icon of Shri Garuda and a ceiling panel of the temple are seen close by.

Along the same trade route, one also finds the Mahadev temple belonging to the later part of the early medieval period which was discovered at Curdi, eight kilometers from the town of Sanguem. The proposal of a dam in the vicinity of the temple threatened to submerge this priceless temple. To save history, the Archeological Survey of India dismantled the temple stone by stone it and and transplanted it too Shelpem where it was reassembled. However the best preserved temple of the Kadamba era is the Tambdi Surla temple, located at the village Tambdi Surla in Sanguem taluka 65 kilometers from Panaji paying their obeisance to the temple deities. The architecture of these reservoirs too is commendable with decorative spouts feeding them. An indigenous art that the temples of old boasted of was Kavi art, which consisted of applying permanent decorative geometric or other designs on the walls.

Temples were also built along ancient trade routes to cater to the devotional needs of the travellers. On one such trade route between Chandrapur (Chandor), Anilpur (Alnavar), and built between the twelfth and the thirteenth centuries. It is built up of black schist. Though only a part of the shikhara (spire) is standing, it is adorned with intricate stone motifs depicting Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and his consort Parvati which immediately draws and rivets ones attention. Monolithic columns support the temple from inside. In the antaralaya lies the Shiv lingum where an oil lamp constantly burns. A statue of Nandi bull the vehicle of Lord Shiva is in sitting position in the sabhamandapa the ceiling of which is decorated with carved lotus motifs. This black beauty looks especially striking in the summer when the Gul Mohur trees surrounding it blossom in full bloom giving a red halo to the temple. Goa is the only other place in India where one finds a Bramha temple (the other being Puskar in Rajasthan). Though originally located at Carambolim, near old Goa, it was hurriedly shifted to Sattari 7 km from the town of Valpoi in Sattari to escape destruction at the hands of the Portuguese. The place where the temple is built is named as Brahma Karmoli after the Brahma temple. The idol of Brahma is intricately carved. Kavvi art temples are mainly found in Pernem taluka. This beautiful art form may slowly disappear due to the onslaught of a wave of demolishing the old temples and reconstructing them with concrete structures. Though efforts are on to educate the temple committees about the futility of such a construction, it is an uphill task. Ponda taluka came under Portuguese dominion by virtue of the treaty of 17 January, 1791. Before this Ponda served as a place of refuge for the Hindu deities in the old conquests which were under the Portuguese from the early 16th century. This has given rise to the concentration of temples in Ponda taluka, The annual zatras are held in these temples with great pomp and devotion.

Some of the popular temples in the Ponda taluka are listed ahead. Shree Shantadurga temple at Kavlem reflects the old Goan architecture with its red sloping roops. It was constructed in 1738 by the grandsonof Shivaji, the Maratha king. Shantadurga is the godess of peace who mediated between Shiva and Vishnu. The Mangueshi temple was built in 1744, but took its present avatar only in 1973. The Shiva linga of Lord Mangush was worshiped in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at Kushasthal (presently Cortalim) for hundreds of years before being secretly brought to a hamlet at Priol in 1560 for safety, renaming the hamlet as Mangueshi. Naguesh Temple is dedicated to Shiva and constructed in the 18th century and is situated at Bandoda. A gallery in the Sabhamandap exhibits exquisite and intricate wood carvings, depicting scenes from the Ramayana. Another temple from the 18th century lies in the village of Veling. Dedicated to Vishnu who assumed the form of Narasimha, half man and half lion, to fight a demon who could neither be slain by man or beast. A recent addition to the temple is its gleaming brass roof that gliters like gold in the sun. a large tank whose water is constantly replenished by a perennial spring.

For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

Author: Planet Goa Team
For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

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