The Flight of Gods
Shri Ganapati of Khandolem is an ancient deity and like Shri Saptakoteshwara, had a turbulent and chequered history. The deity was worshipped during the Kadamba period and the temple was situated at Ela during the 13th century. The Muslim raid of the early 14th century saw its destruction and the idol was hidden. With the return of Hindu rule under Vijayanagar in 1378, the idol was installed in a new temple on a hilltop at Navelim on the island of Divar.
Puja in progress – Photo by Mohan Pai
The deity went into hiding again and the idol was shifted to Khandepar and then to Narvem in Bicholim. This was long before the real wave of Portugese destruction began with the first law of 1541. Shri Ganapati was one of the fore-runners of the refugee deities and in fact it was to him, already established in Bicholim across the river, that the People of the island of Divar decided to appeal for guidance when in 1560, they were under tremendous pressure to convertto Christianity. The boatload of young men sent to Shri Ganapati for guidance were captured and imprisoned. As a result, parents and fellow villagers capitulated and agreed to become Christians, leading to one of the first mass baptism in Goa.
Around this time, the idol of Shri Ganapatiwas again shifted to Khandole in Ponda taluk which was in the Sonda king’s territory.
Shantadurga Shrine – Photo by Mohan Pai
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