When you think about Goa, the things that usually come to mind are beautiful beaches, blue water till your eyes can see, amazing parties and concerts. Goa is so much more than that, filled with immense amount of history and culture that is sure to overwhelm you. With such a rich history and an assimilation of so many foreign cultures and religions, you are sure to find many nice combinations of various activities such as prayer and various festivals. Those who are religiously inclined should take out some time to visit these beautiful temples that are true testaments to the rich cultural and beautiful religious history of Goa.
1. Brahma Temple
The Brahma temple in Carambolim is one of the oldest temples in Goa. Attracting many devotees from around the area. The idol that is inside the temple is said to be from the 12th Century and is very intricately made. The temple’s name is Brahma Karmali, and is named after the nearby village. During Goa’s struggle for freedom, many sessions were held here by Mr. P.P. Shirodkar, one of the members of the National Congress. The simplicity of the area and the temple will surely relax you and the history behind it is very fascinating.
2. Mahadev Temple
The Mahadev temple of Tambdi Surla is located in one of the most serene and peaceful areas you’ll ever step foot upon. Surrounded by lush greenery on all sides, it is considered to be the oldest temple in Goa, surviving the Christianising of Goa by the Portuguese. The temple is hidden in a clearing inside a jungle. It is small but magnificently designed and made. The temple has survived countless Muslim invasions and a search to eradicate Hinduism by the Portuguese. It is said that a big King Cobra snake resides in the main hall during the night, making it an even more fascinating place for nature lovers.
3. Shanta Durga Temple
Dedicated to the goddess who serves as a messenger between Shiva and Vishnu, Shanta Durga temple used to be a meager mud hut with a small idol but after being destroyed by the Portuguese during the 18th century a beautiful stone temple was erected. Now it is a large temple complex, just a few minutes’ drive away from Panaji. The temple is famous for its unique architectural style which incorporates both Portuguese and Indian designs. This gives it a very nice and refreshing look in contrast with other temples. This is sure to be a great place to visit during the weekend, and the temple provides guesthouses for visitors and devotees as well.
4. Shri Nageshi Maharudra Temple
A temple in Ponda dedicated to lord Shiva, Nageshi temple is a beautiful spectacle. It has made a name for itself as many devotees claim that after they prayed at the “swayambhu” or naturally made shrine to lord Shiva, many of their prayers were answered. It is said that a temple had been in this location for thousands of years and a cow herder found the idol of Shiva after witnessing one of his cows regularly showering milk in the area. This temple was also untouched by the Portuguese religious and cultural eradication during the 17th and 18th centuries. The temple is small and beautiful and has a convenient tank in the front. Many people cool off here during the summers.
5. Shri Bhagwati Temple
Shri Bhagwati temple is located in Parshem. The entire temple complex has five temples, with the main one dedicated to Devi Bhagwati. The temple is famous for its two ‘Deepstambhas’ which are tanks. There are temples that are devoted to Brahma, Shri Sateri, Shri Dev Ravalnath and Shri Dev Bhivangi Panchakshari. The deities are beautifully sculpted and many people come to see them and the beautifully designed temple. The main temple festival is held during the Indian month of Kartika and during this time devotees flock in droves to this abode of worship. The temple is said to be more than half a century old and has survived the Portuguese onslaught against other religions and cultures.
6. Mangeshi Temple
One of the largest temples in Goa, Mangeshi temple is a must visit for people who are religiously inclined during their visit to Goa. Located in Mangeshi village which is around twenty kilometres away from Panaji, this temple was founded during the 16th century and is almost half a century old. Originally located in Saxty, or Salcette, it was moved during the Christianisation of the village. The temple, now grand, had very humble origins and was only renovated with the grace of the Hindu kings of the area. The main deity is Bhagavan Manguesh, who is an incarnation of lord Shiva. The temple complex holds shrines to lord Ganesh and goddess Parvati, along with a few other deities as well.
7. Mahalakshmi Temple
The Mahalakshmi temple is located near Ponda and is a great place to visit if you are looking for a religious stop during your trip to Goa. Built during the 15th century, the original black granite idol of Shri Mahalakshmi was broken by the Portuguese during the eradication of Hinduism and other religions. A beautiful panchloha idol was made. Panchloha is five metals mixed together, usually silver, gold, iron, copper and lead. The temple resembles the Mahalakshmi temple in Kolhapur, which is one of the main areas where the goddess Shakti worshipers are. The temple is located in a beautiful area and is designed aesthetically well.
Goa’s history spans for centuries and these temples are one of the only reminders of the history Goa lost during Portuguese rule and Christianisation. Not as big as the temples you will find in predominantly Hindu areas, the temples in Goa are small but beautifully designed, incorporating both Portuguese and Indian design styles. With such rich history you are sure to enjoy your visit to these temples.