The Flight of Gods 9. Shri Ganapati Temple, Khandolem

The Flight of Gods

by Mohan Pai


Shri Ganapati Temple


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.


Shri Ganapati Temple – night view – Photo by Mohan Pai
But, a century later, the Muslims in the shape of Mahmud Gawan of the Bahamani kingdom, once again attacked Goa and Shri Ganapati temple at Navelim was certainly desecrated. The Portugese built a new church of Our Lady of Divar, at the site of the destroyed temple. This was one of the first churches to be built around1515 after the Portugese conquest of Goa.


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.

Palkhi at the temple – Photo by Mohan Pai


A new idol of black stone of Shri Ganapati was installed on January 31,1969 and the old idol has been preserved in the Garbhagraha itself. Puja in progress – Photo by Mohan Pai


The affiliate deities here are: Shri Shantadurga, Shri Gramapurush, Shri Purvachari, Shri Ravalnath, Shri Mahalaxmi, Shri Laxminarayan and Shri Suryanarayan. The main festivals celebrated at the temple are: Ramanavami, Anantvrata, Dussera and Tulasivivah.

Shantadurga Shrine – Photo by Mohan Pai

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