Ponda can be described as the Hindu heart of Goa. It is famous
for the five important temples that are situated around the town,
and also has the largest mosque in Goa. Most of these temples look
relatively new as they have been restored after being destroyed
by the Portuguese. That explains why there are no temples around
the coast, which was the prime territory of the Portuguese. Ponda
is also an important transport link.
Safa Mosque: Adil Shah constructed the Safa Mosque (also known
as Safa Shahouri Masjid) in 1560. The architectural style of the
mosque is predominantly Goan, with the exception of the arches that
indicate a distinct Bijapuri influence. The mosque has a beautiful
backdrop of wooded low hills that rise in the background.
Scattered among the lush valleys and forests around Ponda are a
dozen or so Hindu temples founded during the 17th centuries, when
this hilly region was a Christian free haven for Hindus fleeing
persecution by the Portuguese. Although the temples themselves are
fairly modern by Indian standards, their deities are ancient and
held in high esteem by both local people and thousands of pilgrims
from Maharashtra and Karnataka .
The temples are concentrated in two main clusters: the first to
the north of Ponda, on the busy NH4, and the second deep in the
countryside, around 5 km west of the town. Most people only manage
the Shri Manguesh and Shri Mahalsa, between the villages of Mardol
and Priol. Among the most interesting temples in the state, they
lie just a stone's throw from the main highway and are passed by
regular buses between Panjim and Margao via Ponda. The others are
farther off the beaten track, although they are not hard to find
on motorbikes: locals will wave you in the right direction if you
Sri Mangesh Temple
The 18th century, Sri (also spelt as Shri) Mangesh (also spelt as
Manguesh) Temple, lies on the north west of Ponda in Priol. Considered
to be the most important temple in Goa, it belongs to the typical
Goan Hindu temple style of architecture, which is a curious mix
of the Hindu and Portuguese style. This picturesque little temple
is built on a hilltop amidst sprawling farmlands. The temple has
shrines of Parvati (consort of Shiva - Destroyer of the Universe)
and Ganesha (the elephant-god of Prosperity and Wisdom). A beautiful
seven-storeyed "Deepstambha" (lamp tower), typical of
Goan temple architecture, stands in the temple complex.
Mahalasa Narayani Temple
2-km from the Shri Mangesh Temple, is the Mahalsa Narayani Temple.
The Vishnu (Preserver of the Universe) Temple is known for the 'Garuda'
pillar (the half-man half-eagle vehicle of Lord Vishnu), which stands
on the back of a turtle with Garuda perched on top of it. The temple
also has a "Deepstambha", and finely carved columns depicting
the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
The Nagesh Temple is situated 4-km west of Ponda. 'Nagesh' (also
spelt as Naguesh) or the 'God of Serpents' refers to Lord Shiva
(Destroyer of the Universe). The temple was built in 1413. The 'Mandapa'
(an assembly hall, generally pillared, preceding the sanctum sanatorium)
has woodcarvings that narrate stories from the Hindu epics - 'Ramayana'
and 'Mahabharata'. The temple compound also houses a five-storeyed
"Deepstambha". Not far from the Nagesh Temple, is located
the Mahalakshmi Temple, dedicated to Goddess Durga (the Goddess
of War). According to the date inscribed in Marathi on the temple,
the monument could have been built in 1413.
Set amidst tranquill forests and hills, the Shantadurga Temple lies
3-km from Ponda in Queula. Shantadurga, one of the consorts of Shiva,
is a form of Durga (the Goddess of War) and the Goddess of Peace.
Legend has it that once, the Destroyer and the Preserver had a mammoth
fight that plunged the entire universe into chaos. Shantadurga stepped
in as the arbitrator and succeeded in reconciling the warring parties,
thus saving the universe from eternal doom. Hence, she stands in
the temple shrine in between Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu (Preserver
of the Universe) as a symbol of peace.
The Shantadurga Temple was built in 1738, and is the biggest temple
in Goa. A distinctive six-storeyed Deepstambha and 'Ratha' (chariot)
with some gilt work adorn the temple grounds. It is interesting
to note that amongst some other features of the temple, the dome
shows a definite influence of Church architecture.
By Road: Ponda is served by regular
buses from Panjim and Margao, and lies on the main route east to
Karnataka . The Kadamba Bus Stand is on the main square, next to
the auto-rickshaw rank.
General Information & Accomdation info on Ponda city of Goa - India