Sometimes you just got to go back to renew your faith and what better a place than Ponda, a home to a number of artistic temples. Ponda is the gateway to returning to your spirituality, opening new doors, gaining new insight, finding that strength that you’ve been in need for so long.
Ponda is 28 kms south east of Panjim and 17 kms north east of Margao. Ponda is connected to Panjim and Margao via non-stop mini-bus shuttle bus services that you queue up for at the Kadamba bus terminus.
In the heat of Portuguese religious intolerance centuries ago, Ponda was a safe haven for hindus fleeing Portuguese religious based persecution, in times when Ponda was ruled by local feudatories of the Vijaynagar Kingdom or the Bijapur sultanate. This accounts for the large number of temples resettled from Salcetteand in and around Ponda. These makeshift temples were slowly renovated as the hindus gained prosperity.
All these temples with all their intricate architecture is truely enchanting and demands to be admired. Some of these beautifully constructed temples are: Shantadurga is a popular deity, and at Kavlem, in the Taluka of Ponda itself, is a unique temple complex devoted to her. In her unique form, as a Durga of peace as her name suggests, Shantadurga is seen as the goddess who mediates between Vishnu and Shiva.
Bandora village (4 kms from Ponda town) is home to the temple of Mahalaxmi. It has a gallery of images, a rare collection of wooden images of Lord Vishnu in India. Mahalaxmi is considered to be a peaceful (‘satvik’) form of the deity. Naguesh is the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, in the village of Bandora. This temple is known for its wood carvings on Ramayana events, among others.
The Manguesh temple — almost equidistant from Panjim (22 km) and Margao (26 km) at Priol – sits on a hillock surrounded by green. This temple is dedicated to lord Shiva.
At Mardol, barely 1 km from the Mangueshi temple, is the Mahalsa temple. The deity worshipped is an attribute of Vishnu — Mohini during the fight between the devas and the asuras.
Vijayadurga temple is nearly 400 years old and has unique architectural features. There is a beautiful lake adjacent to the temple complex. There is facility for tourists to stay within the temple complex and the rooms can be booked while visiting the temple. Vegetarian g=food is served for lunch and dinner and payment for this is voluntary.
The Safa Masjid on the national highway, west of town is the largest of Goa ’s 26 mosques and built by Ibrahim Adi Shah in 1560. It has a simple rectangular chamber on a low plinth, with a pointed pitched roof, very much in the local architectural style, although the cupped arches are distinctly Bijapuri.
These are just a few temples mentioned. There are various temples to visit and look around and be spellbound. On this pilgrimage, here is a list of hotels you can stay at: Hotel Atish, Farmagudi Hill Resort (a GTDC resort), Central Tourist Home, Geetashram Lodging & Boarding, Hill View Motel, Navayug Lodging & Boarding, Hotel Menino, so many options to choose from.
Ponda is not just made up of temples, tourists have a lot more to sightsee. Ponda is the gateway to Goa’s wildlife sanctuaries, both the Bondla and the Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary, and also to the Dudhsagar Waterfalls. The nearby Butterfly Conservatory of Goa attracts nature enthusiasts. It is at Pisgal, Priol, and very close to the Tropical Spice Plantation.
Bondla wild life sanctuary is also widely popular amongst the tourist. A small, 8 sq. kms sanctuary at the foot of the hills of the Western Ghats has a mini zoo that guarantees sightings of Goa ’s wild life in natural surroundings and also offers short elephant rides. The park also has an attractive botanical garden setting and a 2.4km nature trail with water holes, a lake and a tree top observation tower.
This trip will leave you relaxed and tension free. You will be breathing a new life, feeling pure and closer to God. Come and experience the change.