It is not only about the sea, sand, and sun or the huge architectural splendour of the famous churches. Goa has much more in store for the avid explorer. For example, take the Hindu temples (mostly situated in North Goa), which have a mixture of influences – Hindu, Islamic, Portuguese, and Nagari. According to legends, these temples, originally built in the Kadamba style of Hindu architecture, were destroyed after the Portuguese invasion of the city. The Hindus then fled northwards with the deities and new temples were built. That is the reason why most of the Goa temples have modern Indian architecture.
Mangueshi Temple, Priol
It is perhaps the most famous of all Goan temples. Dedicated to the God Manguesh (another name for Lord Shiva), its original location was Kushasthali (present day Cortalim). In 1560, during the attack of the Portuguese, the lingam was shifted to Priol, where the temple is situated now and was placed under the control of Adil Shah. The architecture is a blend of Christian and Hindu styles. During the Annual Jatra Utsav in January, the temple is lit up magnificently and the deity is taken out in a palanquin for a chariot parade. Navratri and Mahashivratri are also celebrated with much pomp and splendour.
Mahadeva Temple, Tambdi Surla
This one is the most ancient temples in Goa retaining the original Kadamba style of architecture, with a pillared porch and three-stepped entrance. It was built in the 12th century, amidst the forests in TambdiSurla, 65 km away from Panjim. Presently declared a heritage site by The ASI, this beautifully carved and partially incomplete basalt rock structure is dedicated to Lord Shiva or Mahadeva. Experts say that due to its remote location, it has survived the Muslim and Portuguese invasions. Bas-relief figures of Lord Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma appear, along with their consorts, on the side panels of the temple. It also has the headless figure of the bull Nandi (Shiva’s vehicle) at the mandapa’scentre. Locals believe that a huge Cobra is in permanent residence within the ill-lit sanctum, near the lingam.
Mallikarjuna Temple, Shristhal
Mallikarjuna is an incarnation of Lord Shiva. This temple, situated 30 km from Margao, in a small village called Shristhal – is dedicated to Mallikarjuna. It lies amidst the lush greenery and mountain covers in the southernmost area of Canacona. The 200 year-old structure (as suggested by the plaque near the temple) houses four exquisitely carved wooden pillars, which are must-sees. Elaborate carvings on the wall-panels and beautiful characters, both drawn and etched on the walls, transport tourists into an era long forgotten. This temple is a hub of activities during the Veeramal festival. The annual Jatra is also celebrated here, with devotees coming from all parts of Southern India. So if you are keen to dig into the history of Goa, these should definitely feature on your itinerary.