Situated in Mangeshi village, Ponda taluka, 21 km from the capital city of Panjim, Shri Mangesh temple is one of the largest and most visited temples in the state. In 2011, a dress code on visitors to the temple was instituted.
Inside the temple, there is a deity of Lord Mangueshi, an incarnation of the Hindu god, Lord Shiva. It is only in Goa that Shiva is called Lord Mangueshi.
The temple was originally built near the banks of the River Zuari, in the village of Kushasthali (later renamed ‘Cortalim’ after the Portuguese invaded Goa in 1543).
In 1560, when the Portuguese began religious conversions in Mormugao taluka, it was shifted from the original site at Kushasthali to its present location at Mangeshi, in Priol village, which was ruled by the Hindu kings of Sonde of Antruz Mahal (Ponda). This area eventually fell into Portuguese hands in 1763, but by then, the Portuguese had become rather tolerant of other religions, and so, this structure remained untouched.
The temple was renovated twice during the reign of the Marathas, and again in 1890. The last renovation took place in 1973 when a kalasha (pot)was fitted atop the tallest dome of the temple.
According to legend, Lord Shiva lost a game of dice to his wife, Goddess Parvati. So he decided to take the form of a tiger to scare her. She was terrified on seeing the animal and began crying out to Shiva, “Trahi Mam, girisha!” (O Lord of the Mountains, save me!). Upon hearing her cries, Shiva quickly returned to his normal form. The words "mam girisha" became associated with Shiva and over time, the words were abbreviated to ‘Manguirisha’ or ‘Manguesh’.
The site where this tale is believed to have occurred was marked by building a temple.
INSIDE THE TEMPLE
The 450-year-old Shri Mangesh temple, is dedicated to Shiva, and consists of several domes, pilasters and balustrades. There is a prominent Nandi Bull and a beautiful seven-story deepstambha (lamp tower), inside the temple complex. The temple also has a water tank, which is believed to be the oldest part of the temple.
The main temple is dedicated to Bhagavan Manguesh, an incarnation of Shiva, who is worshipped here as Shiva linga. The linga was in Priol for over four centuries until a Maratha general Ramchandra Sukhtankar convinced the Raja of Sonda, to donate land to construct a temple during the middle of the 18th century.
The temple has a unique deepastambha, which is a seven storey octagonal lamp tower, painted white with golden arches. Near the tower, there is the tulsi vrindavan, colourfully decorated with tiles.
The Sabha Griha is a spacious hall with nineteenth century chandeliers. The central part of the Sabha Griha leads to the Garbha Griha, which contains the image of Mangesh.
The other shrines to the rear of the main building house devtas like Mulakeshwsar, Virabhadra, Saanteri, Lakshminarayana, Suryanarayan, Garuda and Kala Bhairav.
Every Monday, before the evening aarti, the idol of Manguesh is taken out in a procession in a palki, accompanied by music. On certain occasions, the linga is decorated and dressed in rich robes and jewels.
Outside the main temple in the courtyard, is a temple dedicated to Lord Bhairava, a violent form of Lord Shiva. Behind the main temple, there is a temple dedicated to Mukto or Mulkeshwar, who was responsible for carrying the image of the god to Priol in the 16th century. He is also associated with Multo, the god of the Kunbis.
A temple to Shanteri, the village goddess of peace, is also found near the ancient water tank outside the courtyard. Besides this, there are temples dedicated to Lord Ganesh and Devi Bhagwati.
Every year, at the end of February, the deity is decorated and taken around the village of Manguesh, as part of the celebration of the main annual festival of the temple during the Magha Purnima.
The pulling of chariots, known as the Rath Yatra, is the major attraction of the festival.
WHERE: Mangeshi Village, Ponda Taluka
VISITING HOURS: 6 am – 10 pm