The city of Ponda lies about 28kms south-east of Panaji and 17kms
north-east of Margao and is also the capital of Ponda Taluka .
Ponda - Know before you go
Ponda is considered to be the heart of Hinduism in Goa. Ponda taluka is
most famous for its temples. Hindus abandoned their coastal settlements and
moved inland during the Portuguese inquisition, a majority of them settled
in Ponda, most of whom have made the area their home for centuries. When
Portuguese arrived in Goa, they destroyed every temples and mosques they
could lay their hands on. As a result, temples in Goa are generally set back
from the coast and comparatively new, although some are just about 400 years
Ponda is now a transportation centre and some of the best temples in Goa
are located here. A few small factories and industrial estates have sprung
up on the outskirts of the town due to its proximity to some of Goa's
largest iron ore mines.
The Safa Masjid is Goa's best-preserved sixteen-century Muslim monument. It
was constructed by Adil Shah in 1560 and is also known as Safa Shahouri
Masjid. It has a beautiful backdrop of wooded low hills rising in the
Mahalsa Narayani Temple
The Mahalsa Narayani Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu's consort Laxmi,
though some people believe it is the Lord Vishnu's female form Mohini. A
lamp tower, which is seven floors high can also be found here. Garuda, the
great bird that was Lord Vishnu's conveyance sits atop a pillar, which rests
on the back of a turtle. There are intricately carved columns and painting
of the 10 avatars or incarnations of Vishnu.
Shri Mangesh Temple
Shri Mangesh Temple is set atop a hill at Priol, northwest of Ponda leading
to Old Goa. The temple has a seven-storey lamp tower (which is a unique
trait of Hindu temples in Goa), a Nandi bull (Lord Shiva's conveyance), as
well as shrines to Parvati and Lord Ganesha. During the festival of Mangesh
Jatra, the rath (temple chariot) is pulled by several devotees.
The Shantadurga Temple is dedicated to Durga. Shant means peace and Durga
supposedly mediated a dispute between Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, bringing
peace to the world; in the temple she is depicted in between the two
deities. The interior has polished marble and several chandeliers provide
that light. The deity of Shantadurga with Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva on
either side is behind a silver screen. This is one of the largest Hindu
temples in Goa.
The Nagesh Temple is dedicated to a form of Lord Shiva, Nagesh, the God of
serpents. There is an inscription here dating the temple back to 1413, which
was renovated some time in the 18th century. This temple also has a lamp
tower, five floors high. There are woodcarvings depicting scenes from the
Ramayana and Mahabharata. There is a Nandi bull, Lord Shiva's vahana or
conveyance as well as shrines to Lord Ganesha and Laxmi-Narayan.
South of here lies the Mahalaxmi Temple. It is said to be the original form
of the principal deity of the Shakti sect. A Marathi inscription dates this
temple back to 1413.
Ponda is also the gateway to Goa's wildlife sanctuaries, both the Bondla
and the Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and also the Dudhsagar Waterfalls.