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.
The basic Hindu
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
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 ritualistic cleansing bath before
entering the temple on festival or auspicious days.
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.
The Goan Hindu
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.
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.
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
The curvilinear roofs
of the Mandapa is said to be of Christian / Portuguese architectural
influence. See some examples below.
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.
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.
Goa under Portuguese rule
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
A list of the more
well-known temples is given below. Click on a name to see more details
about the particular temple.
See Also Other
Temple, Veling | Devkikrishna Temple, Marcel |
Mahalsa Temple, Mardol |
Mahalaxmi Temple, Bandivade |
Mahalaxmi Temple, Panaji |
Temple, Shristhal | Manguesh Temple, Priol |
Naguesh Temple, Nagueshi |
Ramnath Temple, Ramnathi |
Saptakoteshwar Temple, Narwe |
Temple, Tambdi Surla )