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Temples of Goa

We at Goa Hub provide the complete travel guide to Goa. Goa, Jewel of India, is studded with temples and churches, which remain as silent but forceful witnesses to the intense religious history of the diverse people who lived here. Hence a pilgrimage to Goa is a unique experience.

In ancient times, Goa was known as Gomantakesha. The name 'Goa' is formed from the first and the last syllables. Another theory about Goa's name concerns Lord Krishna, who came to this land and met the gopikas or cowherd girls and, fascinated, named it after them and their cows. 'Govapuri' was this name, which also shortens to 'Goa'. Endlessly romantic myths, whose origins are lost in the mists of time, but which nevertheless remind us of this golden land's undeniable associations with our ancient past.

Near Bandona amidst lush green surroundings is the temple of Gopal-Ganapati. A modern temple, consecrated as recently as 1966, it is built on the spot where the Maratha king Sambhaji defeated the Portuguese army in 1683. The surprise defeat was believed to be a sign of the deity's protection of the rural. The image of Gopal-Ganapati was discovered quite accidentally at this historic battlefield and sheltered under a thatched-roof until recently.

One of the most celebrated and therefore most visited of Goan temples is dedicated to Sri Mangesh or Lord Shiva, the cosmic power of Perfection. A beautiful legend surrounding the name of the Lord tells how the Goddess Parvati, Shiva's consort, came to Goa in search of her divine spouse, who had left her alone in their mountainous home after a disagreement. Seeing her, Shiva took the form of a tiger, whereupon Parvati cried aloud: thrahi mam girisha! - O save me, Lord of the mountains - thereby seeking refuge in her lord. The words mam girisha transmuted to Mangesh. Thousands of believers come here annually, to take refuge in the great Lord Shiva, as Parvati had done.

Shri Ananta Temple at Sovei Veram is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the second god of the Hindu Trinity, whose role is that of preservation, just as Brahma's is of creation and Shiva's is of dissolution. This is the only Ananta Temple in Goa and therefore of special interest. Surrounded on all sides by water and beautiful countryside, the aspect of the temple site inspires tranquility and peace. For village folk, the pilgrimage could be undertaken for the purpose of exorcising spells, as the belief is that the Lord has the power to do so.

Finally, pay your obeisances to three separate temples, all dedicated to the Mother Goddess, Shanta Durga. She is so named as she is said to have mediated in a dispute between her husband, Lord Shiva and the equally influential Lord Vishnu. Having established peace or shanty between the two, she acquired the somewhat paradoxical title of Shanta Durga. For Durga is traditionally a warrior-like Devi, with ten hands, armed with fierce weapons who, seated on a tiger, battles fiercely with the forces of evil on behalf of her devotees. Those who utter her name perform even the hardest tasks with ease and, in particular, she is invoked before undertaking a mission or journey. The principal Shanta Durga temples are at Fatorpa in Quepem taluka, which is visited by thousands of believers from all over Goa. The sumptuous temple at Kavalem provides lodgings like other temples too, and in famous for its interior. The third temple is at Dhargal in Pernem, amidst beautiful surroundings. The Goddess was moved here in 1550 AD for safety from the Inquisition. Perhaps her peace loving nature helped to restore harmony in the land of her adoption.

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