Goa, a state on the western coast of India within the Konkan region, is geographically segregated from the Deccan plateau region by the Western Ghats.

Goa is mostly known for its beaches, ranging from popular stretches at Baga and Palolem to those in laid-back fishing villages such as Agonda. Goa is visited by large numbers of international and domestic tourists each year because of its white-sand beaches, active nightlife, churches, and World Heritage-listed architecture. It also has rich flora and fauna because it lies very close to the North Western Ghats rainforests, one of the rare biodiversity hotspots of the world. When we think of Goa we tend to think of vast golden beaches and media-propagated images of churches and guitar-strumming Christians making merry. 


What most people are not aware of is that Goa is dotted with magnificent sanātanī temples, some very ancient which have undergone the plunder and loot of Muslim infiltrators and Portuguese Catholic bigots and evangelists. The Goa inquisition played a major role in bringing havoc to these ancient shrines.

What is also less known outside Goa is that it is a Hindu-majority state which consists 66.8% of its population. Goa’s original name was the Sanskrit Gomantak, or “Land of the gods”

The most famous among the Puranas that has documented the Indic history of Gomantak is the Sahyādrikhanda of the Skandapurāna.

The most important story in the Sahyādrikhanda is that of the migration of the Saraswat branch of the Pancha Gauda Brahmins from north-east India to Goa. It gives a detailed account of the 66 Gauda Saraswat Brahmin families whom Parasurāma brought from Trihotra (modern Tirhut in West Bengal) and settled in eight Goan villages Varenya (Verem), Kelosi (Quelossim), Kuśasthala (Cortalim), Kudasthali (Curtorim), Mathagrāma (Madgaon), Lotali (Loutulim), and two islands in the Mandovi River: Dipāvati (Diwar) and Cūdamani (Chorao). Various passages in the Sahyādrikhanda and also in the Mangeśamāhātmya (Skandapurāna) refer to deities that the Gauda Saraswat Brahmins had brought with them to Goa. These are Śantadurgā, Mahālaksmī, Mangeśa, Saptakotīśvara, and Nageśa, all of whom are still widely worshipped in various temples in Goa even today.

There are, however, other versions of the same story that talk of the Gauda Saraswat Brahmins in Goa not coming from Bengal but from the region around the ancient river Sarasvatī in north India; while a few modern scholars also claim of local priests who later named themselves as Gauda Saraswat Brahmins. There are also debates on the same topic between the Konkani-speaking Gauda Saraswat Brahmins and the Marathi-speaking Deshastha and Kharhade Brahmans living in Goa.


A Goan temple is known as a dēvūḷ or sansthān in the Konkani language. These temples were once the centers of villages, cities, and all the other social, cultural, and economic gatherings in Goa. These were known as grāmasansthās in Konkani. The patrons of the temples are known as Mahajana and for the most part hail from Brahmin communities with a few from Kshatriya communities. This Mahajani system was once responsible maintenance & operation of the temple.


Most Goan temples are of Nagara architecture with some alterations.

•Tali or Tallay — water tank at the entrance

•Praveśadvāra — a large main entrance to the complex

•Dīpa stambha — a lamp pillar

•Agraśālā — pilgrimage rest-house specially meant for devotees

•Bhojanaśālā — place for eating

•Yagaśālā — place for conducting Yajña (Yaga in Konkani)

•Vāhanaśālā — place of the icon of the deity’s mount (vāhana)

•Sabhāmaṇḍapa — audience hall

•Nagāṛkhānā — drum hall

•Antarāla — vestibule just before the sanctum sanctorum

•Sarvalli — the circumambulation path

•Garbhagr̥ha/Garbhakuḍ — Sanctum Sanctorum, the place where the presiding deity’s icon is kept.

A Goan Konkani temple contains two murtis, one is a Moola Murti to which the alankar (adornment) is usually done and which is of ancient origin, and the Utsava Murti which is displayed on the temple premises. The Utsava murtis are made of silver, gold, or sometimes alloys. An alloy Prasad Murti is also seen. The Chowk pillars are usually wooden with explicit carvings. The roof is also studded with paintings and chandeliers. Huge bells are hung at the entrance of the Chowk. 

The following festivals are celebrated in all the Goan temples: Gulalotsav, Samvatsar Padvo, Tarangotsav, Shigmo, Palakhi Utsav, and Dasarotsav.


Goan temples are strictly devoted to the worship of” Panchyatan” devised by Adi Shankara. The temple complexes usually follow a quincunx format, with the largest temple (main temple) being surrounded on 4 sides by smaller temples, usually of deities associated with the presiding deity; this arrangement is termed Pañcayatana. The shloka says :

आदित्यं गणनाथंच देविम् रुद्रं च केशवं 

 पंच देवताम् इत्युक्तं सर्ववर्मसु पुजयेत .

The following deities constitute a Panchayatana: Devi, Rudra or Ishwar, Ganesh, Keshava, and Aaditya.In addition to these, some other deities are also worshipped. These are :

Kulpurush(Family Ancestor), Ravalnath, Bhutnath, Gram Purush, Kshetrapal.


Devvadi or Diwar is a riverine island on Mandovi that consists of four villages that were full of temples. It was originally known as Devvadi meaning  “abode of gods”. The four villages are; Piedade (Goltim-Navelim), Naroa, and Malar; each with a wonderful heritage – tangible and intangible. Of four Naroa was considered the most sacred for it was home to Saptakoteshwar & Bhairav temples. There is a large holy pond with steps just opposite the Bhairav temple.

Author Sumant Batra says, “It was believed that only Gods & priests can settle here. The devotees only offer prayers & recede back”.

Now let us explore some of these ancient Kōnkanī temples :


The iconic 12th-century marvel from the erstwhile Kadamba Dynasty, Mahadev temple at Tambdi Surla, given its remote location, has survived Islamic and Portuguese ravages. It is an ASI-protected Monument of National Importance in Goa. The temple consists of garbhagriha, antarala, and a pillared Nandi mandapa built of basalt. The four pillars, embellished with intricate carvings of elephants and chains support a stone ceiling decorated with finely carved Ashtoken lotus flowers. Bas-relief figures of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Brahma, with their respective consorts & Keertimukh, appear on panels at the sides of the temple. The temple faces east so that the first rays of the rising sun shine on the deity. The symbol of the Kadamba kingdom, an elephant trampling a horse is carved on the base of one of the columns. The river Ragado, (via village Keri, Sattari) flows nearby and is reachable for ritual bathing.


It is a re-established temple built in the 10th-11th century, which was earlier situated 17 KM southeast to the present spot in Angod village on the banks of Netravatī river. There has been a threat of sinking to the Linga after the formation of the dam on the Salolim river. The main intention behind the temple was the worship of Linga which is now placed in the Sōmeshwara temple of Kurdi Angod. Laterite & Basalt stones are used in the formation of its upper portion. At the entrance to garbhgriha Chandrashilas are displayed in shankhāvart style.


It is located in Kavlem. Cone-shape shīkāra, bow-shape windows & a flat dome are its unique features. Swarnpāl utsavas are the main & most famous festivals celebrated here.


Situated at a distance of 22 KM from Panji it is known for its Deepstambh.


It is located in Mardol Ponda. One of the most beautiful temples of Goa it is devoted to the Mōhinī incarnation of lord Vishnu.


It is also a re-established temple in Bicholim which is nearly 8 KM away from the original one. It was re-established by Shivaji Maharaj.

Saptakoteshwar, a form of Shiva, was one of the chief deities of the Kings of the Kadamba dynasty around the twelfth century. The temple was built by the King for his wife Kamaldevi who was a staunch devotee of this god. 

In 1352, when the Kadamba kingdom was conquered by the Bahmani Sultan Allauddin Hasan Gangu, Goa came under the rule of the Sultan for about 14 years. A number of temples were destroyed during this period and the linga at the Saptakoteshwar temple was dug up by the troops.

In 1367, the army of Vijayanagar King Harihararaya defeated the Bahmani Sultan’s troops in Goa and managed to restore most of the temples to their former glory including that of Saptakoteshwar. According to the records, the temple was reconstructed by Madhava Mantri by the end of the 14th century.

When the temple was demolished in 1560 by the Portuguese (and a chapel dedicated to Nossa Senhora De Candelaria was erected in its place), the linga was used as a good shaft until some Hindus managed to rescue it. The idol was then smuggled across the river to Bicholim where it was installed in a brand new temple and revamped in 1668 by the Maratha Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. The construction of the new site was carried out by Shri Shivaram Desai on Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s blessings and guidance.


•Brahma Temple: Valpoi, Satari District

•Shri Nagesh Temple: Donshiwado, Ponda

•Shri Damodar Temple: On banks of Kushvati river, Sanguem, South Goa

•Mahalaxmi Temple & Maruti  Temple: Ponda, North Goa

• Chandreshwar Bhootnāth Temple: Paroda.

• Other Shāntadurga temples:  Surprisingly, the Temple of Shantadurga can be found in three places in Goa. Shantadurga temples in Goa are at Kavlem, Pemem, and Quepem.


1.Gomes, Rui Pereira. Hindu Temples and deities.

2. Inditales by Anuradha Goyal

3. Monuments and structures:

4. Culture and religious traditions in temples of Goa by Kamla Mankekar

Authored Sushant S Raghuvanshi.