11 Holy Places To Visit In Goa

Goa is a Konkan state with approximately 66 percent Hindus and 25 percent Christians. Goa has some of the world famous churches as well as temples, some very old and some new. Irrespective of whether they are Catholic, Hindu or Muslim, many Goans prostrate in symbiotic reverence before deities of other faiths than the one they profess. Religious festivals are celebrated by people of all faiths.

Goa has a strong influence of Portuguese, Mughal, and Indian architectural design. Many of the 16th and 17th colonial Catholic churches are built in the Portuguese Baroque style.

The original Goan temples were made of sedimentary rocks, stones, wood and limestone which were greatly destroyed during the Portuguese era. The present day Goan temples are of Nagara architecture with some alterations. the temple can have many different angles to it, it can be perceived as a Mosque, Church or simply a Palace.

Shree Shantadurga Temple

About 33kms from Panjim, the Shree Shantadurga Temple is located at the foothills of Kavlem village in Ponda district of Goa. The temple is one of the popular pilgrimage centers in Ponda and dedicated to the “goddess of peace”. Goddess Durga, who is often portrayed exuding fury and aggression, appears in a gentler form here. As per hindu mythology, the goddess got her name after she settled a dispute between Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu and as per the legend, the quarrel turned so fierce that it threatened to destroy the entire universe. Fearing annihilation, Lord Brahma beseeched Goddess Parvati to interfere. Taking the form of Shantadurga, the goddess took Shiva by her left hand and Vishnu by her right and pacified the duo. The idol of the goddess is flanked by the statues of Shiva and Vishnu. The goddess holds serpents in each hand, representing Shiva and Vishnu.

the temple started as a mud shrine which was later converted into a temple in 1728 during the reign of Shahu Maharaj of Satara at the request of one of his ministers. Originally established in a temple at Cavellossim, the idol of Shantadurga is believed to be shifted to its current location during the time of Portuguese inquisition, along with the idol of Shree Mangeshi. The idols were transported across the Zuari River to its current location, under the Adilshahi Kings of Bijapur and the blend of Indo-Portuguese architecture can be distinguished by the temple’s pyramidical “shikhara” (rising tower), Roman-arched windows and a flat dome encircled by balustrades. The current temple structure of Shree Shantadurga devi was built precisely during the period from 1713 a.d to 1738 a.d. Many renovations have been done over the years to the main temple since then.

The jatra (annual festival) is held during December every year when the idol of the goddess is taken out in a procession in a golden palanquin (palkhi) during the festival.

Shri Mahalasa Narayani Temple

Located at the small village of Mardol, about a km from the famous Mangueshi temple and about 22 kilometers from Panaji, the capital city, the Mahalasa Narayani Temple has a number of legends attached with the deity and her existence. The Goddess Mahalsa is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, hence the name Mahalsa Narayani (Narayan being another name for Vishnu).

The temple has huge wooden pillars and a silver framed doorway. In the courtyard, there is a magnificent brass samai (ornamental lamp pillar) which is 40 feet in height and has 21 rings of a hundred fifty small lamps.

Besides the Jatra, there are two other special festivals held at the temple – the Jaiyanchi Puja around the month of August and the Kojagiri Pornima just after the mosoons on full moon day.

Shri Nageshi Maharudra Temple

Shri Nageshi Maharudra Temple is is an ancient Hindu temple located at Donshiwado of Ponda Taluka and is 26 kms from Panjim. The Nageshi Temple was built in 1413 under the rule of King Veer Pratap Devaraya of the mighty Vijaynagara Empire. The temple underwent an extensive renovation process in the days of Chatrapati Shahu the Maratha ruler of Satara. Despite the Portuguese invasion this temple was as is because the Antruj of Ponda Mahal was not under their jurisdication.

he major attractions of the temple are the five-storied lamp tower or Deepstambha and the historic old water tank. It is built in such a way that standing at a certain point around the tank one can view the reflection of the idol of Lord Nagesh and the lighted lamps in the inner sanctum. The Sabhamandap of Shri Nageshi temple has a gallery on both sides which contains exquisite wooden carvings depicting the scenes of the great Ramayana and Mahabharata on one side and the wooden images of Astadikpalaka and Gandharva on the other.
A stone sculpture of the Nandi Bull- the vehicle of Lord Shiva is set at the entrance of the main shrine. On either side of the sanctum are ancillary shrines of Lakshmi Narayan and Lord Ganesh.

The most important festival celebrated at this temple during the month of November is the Anguish Satrap. Also the 8 day Kartik Poornima, Chaitra Poornima and Mahashivratri are celebrated at this temple.

Mangueshi Temple

Mangueshi Temple is located at Mangeshi Village in Priol, Ponda taluk, Goa. The temple is one of the largest and most frequently visited

Maruti Temple

Maruti Temple is in Panjim, on the Altinho hill, just beyond the heritage district of Fontainhas. The temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman.

Mahadev Temple

Mahadeva Temple, Tambdi Surla is a 12th-century Shaivite temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and an active place of Hindu worship. It is the only structural temple of the Kadamba period to survive the destructive violence of religious intolerance during Muslim and Portuguese occupations of Goan territory.

Safa Shahouri Masjid

Built in 1560 by Ibrahim Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur, the Safa mosque survived the havoc wreaked by the Portuguese colonizers as part of the Inquisition process. During the reign of the Bijapur Sultan, the region witnessed a proliferation of mosques and Ponda alone was home to 27 of them.Safa Shahouri Masjid is an elegant spectacle with typical Islamic arches decorating the walls. The mosque was located at the center of a sprawling complex of gardens and fountains remnants of which can be witnessed today. The rectangular prayer hall of the mosque rests above a high base and is capped with a pointed terracotta tile roof. The Safa masjid is a prominent Islamic shrine in Ponda, commonly regarded the citadel of Hindu pilgrimages in Goa.

St. Francis of Assessi

St. Francis of Assessi The original church began as a small chapel, which was modified to a church in 1521 and consecrated in 1602. That building was replaced by the current structure, erected in 1661. The present-day church is a mixture of styles. Its exterior decoration is in the simple Tuscan order, but its interior—especially the main altar—is richly Baroque with Corinthian features. 

Se Cathedral

Known to be the largest church in Asia, the Se cathedral was built in the 16th century and is a celebrated building of Goa. It was built to commemorate the victory of the Portuguese under Afonso de Albuquerque over a Muslim army. This victory led to the capture of the city of Goa in 1510 on the same day as the feast of Saint Catherine. So, the Portuguese dedicated this church to her.

Construction of the Se cathedral began in 1562 and was completed in 1619. It was consecrated in the year 1640 and since then, has continued to be one of the most important structures of Old Goa. There are several paintings inside the cathedral and one large bell called the Golden Bell. The Chapel of the Cross of Miracles is to the right is where a vision of Christ is said to have appeared in 1919. Six panels contain carvings that portray scenes from Saint Catherine’s life.

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church

The church was one of the first to be built in Goa, certainly being there by 1541.

The early church was completely re-built from its foundations in 1619 and this was even considered, taking account of the still negligible population of the area and the size of the new church, is a striking commentary on the religious climate of the time and the wealth available to the churches.

The interior of the church is relatively simple by the standards of the time although the backdrop to the main altar, dedicated to Mary Immaculate, is impressive enough.

Basilica of Bom Jesus

Basilica of Bom Jesus is a two storied building that was in 1585. A part of the building was accidentally burnt down in 1663 and was rebuilt in 1783. The church is made of is made of laterite. The roof of the church was originally tiled. The church is called ‘Bom Jesus’ meaning ‘good Jesus’ or ‘infant Jesus’ to whom it is dedicated.

The church was India’s first Minor Basilica, and is considered one of the best examples of baroque architecture in India. The layout follows simple Renaissance norms while the detailing and decoration is unabashed Baroque. It’s an opulent structure, which incorporates white marble and has beautifully gilded altars decorated with frescoes and inlay work. The flying buttresses on the northern side of the church are recent additions. A Professed House is a two storey building covered in lime plaster, which is linked to the Church by a colonnaded arcade. Built in the 16th C by the Jesuits, the Professed House features a facade of black granite.

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