The Shri Lakshmi Narasimha
Crouched on the side of a steep,
densely wooded hill, the secluded Shri Lakshmi Narasimha Mandir
at Velinga, 3 K.M southwest of Mardol, is one of the more picturesque
temple around Ponda. To the west of Farmagudi about 1.5 K.M to Velinga
Transferred here from Salcete in 1567, the
Lakshmi-Narasimha devta housed inside this temple, a conventional
eighteenth-century structure surrounded by neat lawns and pilgrim's
hostels, is Vishnu's in his fourth incarnation as the man-lion Narashima,
aka Narayan fed by an eternal spring, this is fringed by lush curtain
of coconut palms.
The Shri Nagesh Temple
At Farmagudi, dominated by
a statue of the Maharatha leader Shivaji, in the valley, carpeted
with cashew trees and dense thickets of palms, is Shri Nagesh temple
at Bandora, 4K.M northwest of Ponda.
Established at the beginning of fifteenth century
and later renovated by Maharathas, Shri Nagesh is older than most
of its neighbors, although stylistically very much in the same mould,
with the usual domed shikhara, or terracotta-tiled roofs and gaudy
goan Decor. In the entrance porch is a stately black Nandi bull,
vehicle of the temple's chief deity, Shiva, here known as Naguesh.
The multicolored wood carvings run in a continues frieze along the
tops of the pillars. These depict scenes from the Hindu epic Ramayana,
in which the God Rama (Vishnu's seventh incarnation) with the help
of Hanuman's monkey army, rescues his wife Sita from the clutches
of arch demon Ravana. After the great battle, the couple are reunited
back home in Ayodhya, as shown in one of the last panels. The silver-doored
sanctum (garbhagriha), flanked by subsidiary shrines dedicated to
Lakshmi-Narayan and the elephant-headed Ganesh, houses a Shiva devta.
The lingam carved with the face of Shiva the God known as Mukhaling.
The temple tank, whose murky green waters are teeming with fish.
The foundation of this Temple was laid in 1413.
The Shri Shantadurga Temple
Standing with its back to a
wall of thick forest and its front Facing a flat expanse of open
rice field, Shri Shantadurga is Goa's largest and most famous temple,
and the principal port of call on the region's Hindu pilgrimage
circuit. 4K.M from northwest of Ponda.
The steps lead to Shri Shantadurga's main entrance
and courtyard, enclosed by office and blocks of modern pilgrim's
hostels, and dominated by a brilliant-white six storey deepmal.
The russet and cream-coloured temple, crowned with a huge domed
sanctuary tower, was erected by the Maharatha Chief Shivaji's grandson,
Shahu Raja, in 1738, some two centuries after its presiding deity
had been brought here from Quelossim in Marmugao taluka, a short
way inland from the north end of Colva Beach.
The interior of the building, dripping with
marble and glass chandelier, is dominated by an exquisitely worked
silver screen, sits the garlanded Shantadurga devi, flanked by images
of Vishnu and Shiva. According to Hindu mythology, Durga, another
name for Shiva's consort, Parvati, the goddess of Peace, resolved
a violent dispute between her husband and rival God Vishnu, hence
her position between them in the shrine, and the prefix Shanta,
meaning "peace", that was henceforth added to her name.
Along the passage leading left to the subsidiary
shrine where Shantadurga sleeps. The Devi's colossal raths; during
the annual February Zatra Festival held here, these elaborately
carved wooden chariots are pulled around the precinct by teams of
The Shri Ramnath Temple
The entrance hall tacked into it in 1905, the
Shri Ramnath temple, 500m north from Shri Shantadurga is one of
Ponda's Monuments. The opulently decorated silver screen in front
of the main shrine, the most extravagant of its kind in Goa. Brought
from Lutolim in Salcete taluka in the sixteenth century, the lingam
housed behind it is worshipped by devotees of the Shaivite and Vaishnavite
sects of Hinduism, Shri Ramnath being the form of Shiva propitiated
by Lord Rama before he embarked on his mission to save Sita from
the clutches of the evil Ravana.
Hidden deep in dense woodland
near the village of Khandepar, 5K.M northeast of Ponda on the NH4,
is a group of four tiny freestanding rock-cut cave temples, gouged
out of solid laterite some time between the ninth and tenth centuries
AD. They are among Goa's oldest historical monuments but are also
virtually impossible to find without the help of guide or knowledgeable
local. The way from the Khandepar crossroads, where the buses from
Ponda pull in.
Set back in the forest behind a slowly meandering
tributary of the Mandovi river, the four caves each consist of two
simple cells hewn from a single hillock. Their tiered roofs, now
a jumble of wee choked blocks,m are thought to have been added in
the tenth or eleventh centuries, probable by the Kadambas, who converted
them into Hindu temples. Prior to that, they wee almost certainly
Buddhist sanctuaries, occupied by a small community of monks. The
inside of the caves with the torch can be scanned and one can make
out the carved pegs used for hanging robes and cooking utensils.
The niches in the walls were for oil lamps. The outer cell of cave
one also has lotus medallions carved into its ceiling, a typically
Kadamban motif that was added at roughly the same time as the stepped
Southeast of Margao, Salcete,
perched on top of a hill, dating to the fifth century. The sanctuary
and linga are carved out on the hill.
In the southeastern corner
of Salcete taluka, a semicircular ride of hills blister out of the
coastal plain, cloaked with deep green forest and crowned by a solitary
temple spire. The cream-and red-painted Shri Chandeshwar (or Bhutnath)
temple at Parvath, 12 K.M southeast of Margao on the main Quepem
road, sits on the top of Chandranath Hill with spellbinding views
from its 370 metre summit. Increasingly grandiose glimpses of the
Goan hinterland were revealed through the cashew trees, while the
boulder-strewn clearing at the top affords a sweeping vista of sand-fringed
toddi forest, sprinkled with all village. This panorama is at its
most serene around dusk, when the sun sinks into the sea behind
a haze of wood-smoke, produced by the cooking fires below on the
According to an ancient Sanskrit inscription,
a temple has stood on this magical spot for nearly 2500 years. However,
the present building, dedicated to Shiva, is comparatively modern,
dating from the late 1600s. The only part of the shrine that is
definitely a vestige of the Vedic age is its cavernous inner sanctum,
hollowed from a hug back bolder, around which the site's seventeenth-century
custodians erected a typically Goan-style structure, capped with
a red-tile room and domed sanctuary tower.
Chandranath Hill peters out at a small car
park just below Parvath, from where a long flight of steps fashioned
from discarded slabs of twelfth-century building leads steeply up
to the temple. Pilgrims arrive the main entrance for darshan, or
the ritual viewing of the God. A wild-eyed golden Chandreshwar deity,
Shiva as "Lord of Moon", stares out from an ornately decorated sanctum,
wrapped in brocaded silk. His accessory deities, or pariwar devtas-medieval
images of Shiva's consort and son, Parvathi and elephant-headed
Ganesh respectively, sculpted in stone - are housed in small niches
to rear of the shrine. This circumambulatory passage, which has
to be walked around in clockwise direction, hugs the base of the
boulder that forms the temple's heart A small Nandi Bull lies among
the from which the view west out to sea and south across the Assolna
estuary to the Cabo Da Rama headland.
At Arvalem, Bicholim, date
to the third and sixth centuries AD and were possibly Buddhist in
origin, Within are Shiva Lingas.
Shri Bhagavati Temple
In Parcem, Pernerm, is a rare
temple where Brahma is worshipped. Two five-storey lamp towers flank
Sri Datta Mandir
Near Saquelim Bridge, Bicholim,
is a small temple, with a blue multi-tiered tower, surrounded by
peepul and kadamba trees.
Sri Mahalasa Temple
In Mardol, is dedicated to
Lord Vishnu. The deity was from an older temple in Mormugao taluka.
In the courtyard is an impressive brass pillar set on a turtle's
back and surmounted by Garuda, Vishnu's vehicle. The turtle represents
Kurma, Vishnu's second avatar (incarnation).
Sri Mahalakshmi Temple
At Bandora, was founded in
the 15th century and dedicated to Lakshmi, Vishnu's consort. The
deity was brought here from Colva in 1565.
Sri Mangesh Temple
In Priol, is Goa's richest
and most important temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The symbolic
linga in the sanctum sanctum, was rescued before the original temple
in Cortalim was destroyed and brought here by ferry. The temple
is built around a huge water tank, the largest in Goa. A seven-storey
lamp tower stands before the main entrance to the temple.
Sri Saptakoteshwar Temple
In Naroa, Bicholim, is dedicated
to the Kadamba's favourite deity. This temple was moved here from
Divar Island and sponsored by the Great Maratha, Shivaji in 1668.
The Shiva linga has rope marks as it was used by the Portuguese
to draw water.
Tambdi Surla Temple
Beyond Sancordem, Sanguem,
is one of goa's oldest temples dating to the 13th century. The small,
beautifully carved and perfectly proportioned black basalt temple,
dedicated to Lord Shiva, is reminiscent of Aihole's temples in neighbouring
Hindu Gods and Goddesses
The chief function of this
God is to protect and restore the world. With four arms holding
a conch, discus, lotus and Mace. Vishnu is blue skinned and often
shaded by a serpent, or resting on its coils, afloat on the ocean.
He is often seen alongside his half-man-half-eagle vehicle, Garuda.
Often distinguishable by two
vertical lines on their forehead, recognize Vishnu as supreme lord
and hold that he has manifested himself on earth nine times. These
incarnations, or (kuma) boar (Varaha) man - lion (narsingh), dwarf
(Varmana), axe-wielding brahmin (Parsuram), Rama, Krishna and Balaram
to earth as Kalki, the saviour that will come to restore purity
and destroy the wicked, is eagerly awaited.
The Most important avatars
are Krishna and rama. Krishna is the hero of the Bhagavad Gita,
in which he proposes three routes to salvation (moksha): selfless
action (Karmayoga), knowledge (jnana) and devotion to God (bhakti)
and explains that moksha is the attainable in this life, even without
asceticism and reunciation. This appealed to all caste, as it denied
the necessity of ritual and officiating Brahmin priests, and evolved
into the popular bhakti cult that legitimised love of God as a means
to moksha, and found expression in emotional songs of the quest
for union with God. Through bhakti, Krishna's role was extended,
and he assumed different faces; most popular he is cowherd who seduces
and dances with cowgirls (gopis) giving each the illusion that she
is his only lover. He is also pictured as a small, chubby, mischievous
baby, known for his butter - stealing exploits, who inspires tender
motherly love in women. Like Vishnu, Krishna is blue, and often
shown dancing and playing the flute. Popular legend has it that
Krishna was born in Mathura, today a major pilgrimage centre, and
sported with his gopis in nearby Vrindavan He also established a
kingdom on the far western coast of Gujarat, at Dwarka.
Is the Chief Character in the
Ramayana born a prince in Ayodhya, he was denied succession to the
throne by one of his father's wives and was exiled for fourteen
years, together with his wife Sita. The Ramayana details his exploits
during these years, and his defeat of the demon King of Lanka, Ravana.
When Rama was reinstated as king in Ayodhya, he put Sita through
"trial by fire" to prove that she had remained pure while in the
clasps of Ravana. Sita passed the trial unharmed and is held up
as the paradigm of women - faithful, pure and honest.
Shaivism the cult of Shiva
was also inspired by bhakti, requiring selfless love from devotees
in a quest for divine communion, but Shiva has never been incarnate
on earth. He is presented in many different aspects, such as Nataraja
Lord of dance, Mahadev, great God, and Maheshvar Divine lore, source
of all knowledge. Though he does have several terrible forms, his
role extends beyond that of the destroyer, and he is revered as
the source of the whole universe. Shiva is often depicted with four
or five faces, holding a trident, draped with serpents and bearing
a third eye in his forehead. In temples, he is identified with the
lingam, or female sexuality. Whether as statue or lingam, Shiva
is guarded by his bull-mount, Nandi, and often accompanied by a
consort, who also assumes various forms, and is looked upon as the
vital energy, Shiva, the empowers him. The erotic exploits were
a favorite sculptural between the ninth and twelfth centuries, most
unashamedly in carvings on the temples of Khajuraho,, in Madhya
Pradesh. While Shiva is the object of popular devotion all over
India, as the terrible Bhairav he is also the God of the Shaivite
ascetics, who renounce family and caste ties and perform extreme
meditative and yogic practices. Many, though not all, smoke ganja,
Dhiva's favorite her: all see renunciation and realisation of God
as the key to moksha. Some ascetic practices enter the realm of
tantrism, in which confrontation with all that's impure, such as
alcohol, death and sex, is used to merge the sacred and the profane,
and bring about the profound realisation that Shiva is omnipresent.
Chubby and smiling, elephant-headed
Ganesh, the first son of Shiva and Parvati, is invoked before every
undertaking (except funerals). Seated on a throne or lotus, his
image is often placed above temple gateway, in shops and houses;
in his four arms he holds a conch, discus, bowl of sweets (or club)
and a water lily, and he's always attended by his vehicle, a rat.
Credited with writing the Mahabharata as it was dictated by the
sage Vyasa, Ganesh is regarded by many as the god of learning, the
lord of success, prosperity and peace.
The fiercest of the female
deities, is an aspect of Shiva's more conservative consort, Parvati
(also known as Uma), who is remarkable only for her beauty and fidelity.
In whatever form, Shiva's consort is shakti, the fundamental energy
that spurs him into action. Among Durga's many aspects, each a terrifying
goddess eager to slay demons, are Chamunda, Kali and Murktakeshi,
but in all her forms she is Mahadevi (Great Goddess). Statues show
her with ten arms, holding the head of a spear, and other weapons;
she tramples demons underfoot, or dances upon Shiva's body. A garland
of skulls drapes her neck, and her tongue hangs from her mouth,
dripping with blood - a particularly gruesome sight on pictures
of Kali. Durga is much venerated in Bengal; in all her temples,
animal sacrifices are a crucial element of worship, to satisfy her
thirst for blood and deter her ruthless anger.
The comely goddess Lakshmi,
usually shown sitting or standing on a lotus flower, and sometimes
called Padma (lotus is the embodiment of loveliness, grace and charm,
and the goddess of prosperity and wealth. Vishnu's consort, she
appears in different aspects alongside each of his avatars, the
most important are Sita, wife of Rama, and Radha, Krishna's favorite
gopi. In many temples she is shown with Vishnu, in the form of Lakshmi
Though some legends claim that
his mother was Ganga or even Agni, Karttikeya is popularly believed
to be the second son of Shiva and Parvati. Primarily a god of war,
he popular among the northern Guptas, who worshiped him as Skanda,
and the southern Chaluukyas, for whom he was Subrahmanya. Usually
shown with six faces, and standing upright with bow and arrow, Karttikeya
is commonly petitioned for those wishing for male offspring.
India's great monkey God, Hanuman
features in the Ramayana as Rama's chief aide in the fight against
the demon-king of Lanka. Depicted as a giant monkey clasping a mace,
Hanuman is the deity of acrobats and wrestlers but is also seen
as Rama and Sita's greatest devote, and an author of Sanskrit grammar.
As his representatives, monkeys find sanctuary in temples all over
The most beautiful Hindu goddess
Saraswati the wife of Brahma with her flawless milk-white complexion,
sits or stands on a water lily or peacock, playing a lute, sitar
or vina. Associated with the river saraswati, mentioned in the rig
veda she is seen as a goddess of purification and fertility, but
is also revered as the inventor or writing, the queen of eloquence
and goddess of music.
Closely linked with the planet
Saturn, Sani is feared for his destructive powers. His image, black
statue with protruding blood-red tongue, is often found on street
corners; strings of green chilies, and lemon are hung in shops and
houses each Saturday (saniwar) to war of his evil influences
Mention must also be made of
the sacred cow Khamdenu, who receives devotion through the respect
shown to all cows, left to amble through streets and temples all
over India. The origin of the cow's sanctity is uncertain, some
myths record all over India. The origin of the cow's sanctity is
uncertain, some myths record that Brahma created cows at the same
time as Brahmins to provide ghee (clarified butter) for use in priestly
ceremonies. To this day cow dung and urine are used to purify houses
(in fact the urine keeps insects at bay) and the killing or harming
by any Hindu is a grave offence. The cow is often referred to as
mother of Gods. And each part of its body is significant; its horns
symbolise the Gods, its face the sun and Moon, its shoulders Agni
(God of fire) and its legs the Himalaya.