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Shanta Durga Temple, kavlem
Category : Temples of Goa
Location  : Ponda
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Set amidst lush emerald hills, the dome of the Shantadurga temple at Kavlem in the Antruz mahal of Goa (Ponda taluka) is clearly visible from the distant highway running from Panaji to Margao via Ponda. This enchanting emerald hills draw closer to you when you reach Kavlem, the abode of the deity of peace -Shantadurga'. As you alight close to the temple, you are confronted with a carpet of verdant paddy fields, coconut trees, pearly white cranes dancing in the different varieties of local flower garlands.

As you climb the steps leading you towards the main Mahadwar of the temple entrance gate towards your left, your eyes lean towards the temple tank, a typical feature of the Goan temples. You reach the main entrance and the site of the temple with a pin-drop silence of the environs leaves you spell-bound.

The majestic deepastamba (lamp tower), another typical feature of the Goan temples welcomes you and the tiny lamps lit up the atmosphere and smile at you. The deepastamba faces the goddess of Peace who is dressed in a purple, green nine-yard saree (nav-vari kapad). You move meditation and contemplation. The Sabhamandapa has marble flooring where the devotees sit amidst thick pillars. The Antarala (vestibule) has a beautifully carved silver gateway with beautiful grape motifs. The ghumti crowned by a golden Kalash atop the dome is unique and the highest in Goa. The poojari is busy with his pooja of the Devi offering flowers to the Goddess and you begin to flashback into history, legend and mythology.

Shantadurga is the mother Goddess worshipped by our countrymen since times immemorial. She takes various forms and shapes. In Bengal, she is the Durga, in Gujrat she is the Amba. She is the Dravidian Goddess who was incorporated in the Aryan pantheon. In fact in Goa, she was worshipped as 'ant¬hill' (roinn) by the pre-historic Goan people. The Shantadurga deity was brought to Goa by the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins who are supposed to have migrated to Goa from especially the Gaud region of Bengal, Tirhut (Trihotrapur) in Bihar. Tirhut, being the original place from where the deity was brought to Goa in the ancient times by the Saraswat community. These 96 Gaud Saraswat families who settled in 66 villages that is Sashi (Salcete). They built a shrine dedicated to Goddess Shantadurga at Keloshi a village in the present day Marmagoa taluka (then in Salcete). Her devotees began to worship her with utmost dedication. The Portuguese under the leadership of Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Goa in 1510 and throughout the 16th centure, owing to the conversion zeal of the government as well as the missionaries a kind of fear psychosis developed amongst the Hindus. In the Keloshi village, the devotees of Shatadurga were gripped by this fear of religious persecution. Hence, they shifted the idol of Shatadurga across the river in a clandestine manner into the Antruz mahal which was under the tolerant Adilshahi rulers. This shifting of the idol took place in the year 1566 during the infamous inquisition period of Goan history. The original temple which was rebuilt by Anu Shenvi None was destroyed and the idol of Shatadurga was shifted to a beautiful hamlet of the Mahars (Maharwada) who gave shelter to the devotees and the deities.

The hamlet came to be known as Kaivalapur of Kavlem or Kardalipur of Kardalivan or Cavelossim. A small laterite mud shrine was built and the deity was installed here. The mud-shrine was converted into a beautiful temple whose foundation stone was laid in 1730 and the temple was completed in 1738 and renovated in 1966.

It was during the rule of Shivaji's grandson Chatrapati Shahu whose name was Naroram Rege Mantri, originally a Goan, made a request to build atemple to Shantadurga his Kuldev.

His request was granted and the temple was built. He was also gifted the village of Kavlem as an Inam of the construction and maintenance of temple i.e. the revenues of the village.

Today it stands as a fusion of Indo-Portuguese architecture. Its pyramidical shape 'shikaras' rising on the roofs of the facade (entrance hall) and the 'Sabhamandap' (the main hall), its roman-arched windows some of which have the stained glass window panes of deep red, yellow, blue, green colours, its chandelairs, its gate posts, ballustraded flat dome, the maroon-peach-white colour paint of the temple gives the temple a serene beautiful look.

The entire temple complex conveys the message of peace and the cool interiors of the temple enhance its charm.

The highlight of the temple is its golden palanquin (palkhi) in which the deity is carried on festive occasions.

The Sabhamandap of the temple has massive and thick pillars. At the entrance of the temple below there is a small shrine dedicated to the mulpurush (Lomesh Sharma or Lorn Sharma) of the Saraswats who built the temple.





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