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GoaCentral > Sightseeing > Temples of Goa

Temples of Goa

Like India, Goans are predominantly Hindus. Temples in Goa are an important part of its socio-cultural life. However centuries under the Portuguese rule played a major role in the destruction and displacement of many temples especially in the areas of the Old Conquests in the early years. One therefore finds the majority of  Hindu Temples relocated in Ponda Taluka today. Click on for more....


Basic Hindu temple Architecture

Goan  Temple Architecture

Temples in Portuguese Goa

The Zatra

Temples of North Goa

Temples of South Goa


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The temples of Goa are in essence like most Hindu temples in India, based around a deity which is worshipped. The architecture of Goan temples is a little different mostly because of historical reasons.  

For those new to Hinduism, please check out   the page on  An introduction to Hinduism  to learn more.

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The basic Hindu temple architecture

The fundamental design of any Hindu temple is organized around the central shrine or the "Garbagriha" or the "sanctum sanctorum" that houses the main deity.  A tower or "Shikara" arises from the main shrine and is traditionally pyramidal shaped. There are usually two or more smaller  shrines housing  other deities  known as "Parivar Devatas" around the entrance to the Garbagriha. There is always a surrounding  free area  or a passage around the Garbagriha that is kept free for a an essential Puja ritual known as "Pradakshina"  performed by almost every devotee. This is the ritualistic left sided circum-ambulation around the shrine usually an odd number of times.

The "Garbagriha" is accessed via a large hall  with pillars and walls either carved with religious motifs or scenes from the mythology pertaining to the deity. This hall is usually known as the "Mandapa".

The "Mandapa" opens to the outer courtyard  or  "Prakara" where usually a statue of a mythical animal or Vehicle of the deity is placed. There may also be a sacred plant the "Tulsi" or one of the sacred  trees usually either a Pepul or a Banyan tree with some small artifacts or statues of more deities at its base. 

ShantadurgaTemple10.jpg (72782 bytes)

Tulsi Plant, Shantadurga Temple

The courtyard also might open into a large water tank or the side of a river or stream  or "Tirthastan". This is where devotees take their their ritualistic cleansing bath before entering the temple on festival or auspicious days. See some examples of "Tirthastan" , at some of Goa's most famous temples  below.

MangueshiTemple1.jpg (80470 bytes)    NagueshiTemple6.jpg (83684 bytes)

Mangueshi Temple            Nagueshi Temple

The courtyard sometimes also is common to the residence of the head priest and also other halls where devotees  stay commonly known as "Dharmasalas" and sometimes  perform ceremonies like marriages and thread ceremonies.

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The Goan Hindu Temple architecture

The Goan modification lies in the assimilation of local building traditions into this rigid architectural style  giving it a special local flavor. One of the special features of Goan temples is the Lamp Tower or "Deepmal" or the "Deepa Stambha" rising anywhere from two to six storied high. This is said to be a Maratha influence. On festival days the "Deepmal" or  the "Deepa Stambha" or the Lamp tower is decorated with hundreds of oil lamps and the effect is spectacular. Some examples of the Lamp towers are illustrated in the photos below. 

MangueshiTempleTower.jpg (74642 bytes)    MhalasaTemple5.jpg (74210 bytes)    NagueshiTemple5.jpg (76560 bytes)    RamnathiTemple6.jpg (75860 bytes)

Mangueshi Temple             Mhalasa Temple            Nagueshi  Temple            Ramnathi Temple  

Another distinctive feature of a traditional Goan temple is the  the Dome that covers the main shrine  instead of the traditional Shikara . This  is said to have been a muslim  or Mughal architectural  influence. See an example below.

NagueshiTemple3.jpg (65990 bytes)

Nagueshi Temple

Another muslim or Mughal influence is said to be the "Naubat Khana" or the small tower over the entrance to the courtyard where the temple drummer  sits and beats  the drum to the music of religious hymns especially on auspicious days.

The curvilinear roofs  of the Mandapa is said to be of Christian / Portuguese architectural  influence. See some examples below.

ShantadurgaTemple8.jpg (79390 bytes)    NagueshiTemple7.jpg (76710 bytes)

Shantadurga Temple        Nagueshi Temple

The oldest temple in Goa is said to be the rock cut caves at Aravalem known as "Pandava Caves"  dedicated to Lord Shiva and dating back to the 1st century AD.

PandavaCaves1.jpg (77460 bytes)

Pandava Caves, Aravalem

A classical example of the other oldest pre-Portuguese era temple is the Temple of Shiva at Tambdi Surla dating back to the Kadamba period  circa 13-14th century AD. It is the only temple of its period in existence because all of the rest were destroyed by the subsequent Muslim and Portuguese onslaught..


Temples in Portuguese Goa

Goan temples today are more modern as compared to most of India's ancient temples, mostly because these are second homes to most deities that were re-established  outside of Portuguese controlled areas during the early days of Portuguese invasion and the dreaded Inquisition. 

The edict of 1540 gave the Portuguese Viceroy the authority to destroy all Hindu temples and shrines within the area of Portuguese control, "not leaving a single one on any of the islands" He was also ordered to confiscate temple estates for the maintenance of churches that were ordered to be built on their sites. This was meticulously carried out by many loyalists including the famous "Temple destroyer" Diogo Rodriguez, buried at Rachol. In the areas under the Old Conquests,  all traces of any temples have vanished without a trace. They even forbade Hindus to cross the border to worship at shrines and temples outside of their areas.

The first temple to be approved  for construction by the Portuguese in their 300+ years of control was the Mahalaxmi temple in Panaji, approved in 1818 after  bitter opposition. 

Here is a table showing a list of famous temples at their current location with their original sites, almost all of them were moved during the early Portuguese rule and during the infamous Inquisition.

Temple at its current site today

Original temple site in the Portuguese Old Conquests 

Shree Kamakshi Temple at Shiroda Raia, Salcette, until its final move to current site.
Shree Saptakoteshwar Temple at Narve Divar Island off Old Goa, until its final move to current site.
Shree Shantadurga Temple at Dhargal Mapusa, then Sanquelim, Sawantwadi until its move to  in 1550 to current site.
Shree Damodar Temple at Zambaulim Margao, at the present site of the Church of the Holy Spirit from where it was moved in 1550 to current site.
Shree Navdurga Temple at Borim Karad, then Benaulim in Salcette until its final move to current site.
Shree Shantadurga Temple at Fatorpa Cuncolim, Salcette, until its final move in 16th century to current site.
Shree Mhalasa Narayani Temple at Mardol Verna, until its final move in the 16th century to current site.
Shree Mangueshi Temple at Mangueshi Cortalim, until its final move to current site.
Shree Laxmi Narsimha Temple at Nagueshi Old Conquests area, until its final move to current site.
Shree Mahalaxmi Temple at Bandode Colva, Salcette, until its final move during the Inquisition to current site.
Shree Ramnath Temple at Bandode Lotulim, Salcette, until its final move in 1566 to current site.
Shree Shantadurga Temple at Kavlem Kelsi, until its final move to current site.
Shree Sanusthan Goudpadacharya, Kavlem Math, Kavlem Cortalim, Salcette, until its final move in 1630 to current site.

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The Zatra

Every temple in Goa has its special days known as the "Zatra". This is based on  auspicious days in the Hindu calendar. On this day, there is a fair like atmosphere around the temple with shops selling toys and food, shows,  games of skill, Plays, religious discourses and of course some major religious ceremonies. People come by the thousands to offer prayers or "Darshana". Other activities include the traditional bathing of the deity known as "Archana", and a procession of the deity in a "Palki" or a special Palanquin or on a special chariot around the temple. The event is a big draw for all the people in and around the area. Some Zatras are a special draw because of some special acts performed as a part of the ceremonies-the most famous being the "Dhond's" ceremony of fire-walking  or walking barefoot over burning coal at the annual Shirgaon  Zatra ; something worth seeing to be believed.

Click on for more on individual temples...

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Temples of North Goa

Shree Saptakoteshwar Temple, Narve
Shree Mahalaxmi Temple, Panaji
Shree Kalikadevi, Kansarpal
Shree Hanuman Temple, Mapusa
Shree Dattatraya Temple, Mapusa
Shree Shantadurga Temple, Pernem
Shree Devi Shravani, Advopal
Shree Sapteshwar-Bhagwati Temple, Mandrem
Shree Mahadev Bhumika, Sal
Shree Vittal Mandir, Sanquelim
Shree Dattatraya Temple, Sanquelim
Shree Rudreshwar Temple, Arvalem
Shree Brahma Temple, Carambolim
Shree Gomateshwar Devasthan, Brahmapur
Shree Kamakshi Temple, Shiroda
Shree Gopal Ganapathi, Farmagudi
Shree Mhalasa Narayani Temple, Mardol
Shree Mangueshi Temple, Mangueshi-Priol
Shree Laxminarsimha Temple, Nagueshi
Shree Mahalaxmi Temple, Bandode
Shree Ramnathi Temple, Ramnathi
Shree Devkrishna-Ravalnath, Marcela
Shree Shantadurga Temple, Kavlem
Shree Morajaee Temple, Pernem
Shree Bhagwati Temple, Pernem
Shree Betal Temple, Pernem
Shree Sanusthan Goudpadacharya, Kavlem
Shree Navdurga Temple, Madkai

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Temples of South Goa

Shree Damodar Temple, Zambaulim
Shree Chandranath Temple, Paroda
Shree Navdurga Temple, Borim
Shree Shantadurga Temple, Fatorpa
Shree Mahadeva Temple, Tambdi Surla
Shree Mallikarjun Temple, Canacona
Shree Sanusthan Parthagali, Parthagali
Shree Damodar Temple, Vasco Da Gama

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For more on Temples of India check out  Temple. net

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