The Flight of Gods 17. Damodar Temple, Zambouli

The Flight of Gods
by Mohan Pai
Shri Damodar Temple

Shri Damodar of Zambauli is a ‘migrant’ deity from Mathagrama (Margao). The original temple at Margao, which probably belonged to Kadamba period, was razed to the ground by Captain Diogo Rodrigues under the instructions of Dom Casper Leao Pereira, the first Archbishop of Goa and the Church of the Holy Spirit was deliberately built at that exact spot and consecrated in 1565 AD. It was again rebuilt in 1675 AD in baroque style.


Along with Shri Damodar, many other deities from Margao were shifted to Zambauli around 1567 AD where the villagers of Rivona welcomed the new deities and offered land and other facilities for their rehabilitation.

The Mantap – photo by Mohan Pai
Damodar is an epithet of Krishna and particularly associated with his childhood. Yashodha, his foster mother, tied his lower abdomen to a heavy mortar and the abdomen of Krishna was pressed and hence the epithet Damodar. The temple is situated at Zambauli about 22 kms From Margao on the banks of Kushavati river.  

The Kushavati river is supposed to have great healing powers and many devotees take bath here to cure themselves of bodily ills. There is an ancient tree that spreads itself in front of the temple. A triple-arched gateway with its Naubat Khana leads to the Courtyard. The temple was renovated between 1892-1908 with copper roofing being added to the Shikara. The temple has a more conventional Shikara design for the towers instead of domes, somewhat North Indian in outline. Almost every part of the temple is new, having been renovated once again between 1951 and 1972.
The affiliate deities here are Shri Lakshminarayan, Mahakali, Chmundeshwari and Mahesh. Shigmo is a major and famous festival of Zambauli celebrated on a grand scale.
Tulasi Vrindavan – photo by Mohan Pai
The legend says that the temple of Damodar at Margao was erected as a memorial in honour of Malkaji Damodar. The story is one of jealousy and hired assassins. Malkaji Damodar, son of a local Desai, was returning from his wedding in Quelossim with his bride. Both the bride and the bridegroom were attacked and murdered by hired assasins employed by a frustrated suiter from a nearby village. A temple was built by the people of Margao in His honour on the spot where Malkaji was murdered.

Zambauli is part of the Rishi Vana or the present day Rivona which is an area of ancient Buddhist settlement. The Buddhist monk Punna, who brought Buddhism to Goa in the 3rd century BC, based himself in a place called Sunaparant, which is believed to be the present day Zambauli. Some ancient Buddhist caves are located about 3 kms from the temple of Damodar at Rivona.


The Temple – side view – photo by Mohan Pai


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