Archive for the 'Goan Hindu Temples' Category


The Flight of Gods 5. The Lesser Gods

The Flight of Gods

by Mohan Pai
Local tribal priest at Bhumi Purush Shrine, Canacona – Photo by Mohan Pai

The Lesser Gods

Kalbhairav shrine near Pedne – Photo by Mohan Pai
The various types and sections of the inhabited and cultivated territories of the villages (Vade, Khazan, Vaigan, etc.) Were considered the domain of the spirits of ancestors (Purusha) and a specified set of divine and semi-divine beings. Central among them were and still are the Gramadevatas, or village deities who are considered as the spiritual founders and protectors of the village and have their abodes in the central village temples.

Vetal image from Loliem village – the tallest image of Vetal found so far.

- Photo by Mohan Pai

Roadside shrine to Mharu, Usgaon- Photo by Mohan Pai
Subordinate to Gramadevatas is a group of semi-divine beings whose often aniconic shrines are situated at various liminal sites, such as way crosses, dams, river banks, sea shores and above all the boundaries of village territories and referred to as “Jageveile” or “Simeveile” which refers to the Konkani words for spot/locality and border.(Alexander Henn).
A number of deities of pre-Brahminic times were absorbed by Brahminic synthesis and unabsorbed deities have been converted into cacodemons, known generally as devchar but still worshipped by the lower castes as well as the Gauddes.(D. D. Kosambi)

Ancient wood-carved Vetal image, Savorde, Sattari- Photo by Mohan Pai


The Austric tribes like Gauddes, Kunbis (Kols, Mundas and Ouraons) who settled in Goa were the worshippers of Vetal, Naga and Pishacchas. These demigods haunted battlefields and places of violent death. These tribes also worshipped the evil spirits – Mharu, Joting and Devchar who are supposed to inhabit the tamarind, banyan, pipal and wild trees. The uninhabited and uncultivated land (ran) was seen as the realm of demonic beings (bhutavali), as well as the territory to which the spirits of people were transferred who had died an inauspicious death (Khetri, Alvantin, Samand, etc.).

The Cult of Vetal

Goa is considered to be the centre of Vetal cult. The tall stark naked stone images with emaciated bellies and in some sculptures a scorpion either on his chest or abdomen have been worshipped in Goa since early times. Though Vetal images are supposed to be naked, in some temples the priests dress them with a dhoti.Vetal, Kamakshi Temple, Shiroda- Photo by Mohan Pai
Vetal is a tribal deity which was absorbed into the Hindu pantheon after 1200 AD and became a part of the Brahminical temple (as Parivar devata or Panchayatan) but his popularity as a village deity did not decrease.
The Austric tribes worshipped Vetal from early times even when they were still in the stage of building temporary shelters.
Hence the shrines of Vetal were not provided any roof. The tribes believed that roofing over Vetal would bring grave misfortune to the misguided devotees. This was the period when they had learnt cultivation and started the slash-burn method farming. According to tradition, Vetal should not have a roof over his head and for this reason there are no temples to Vetal with classical architectural traditions. But the stone sculptures of Vetal in Goa clearly indicate that though Vetal was the God of masses, the images of Vetal were chiselled out artistically and worshipped in small shrines with thatched roof.
Vetal images have a dagger and a potsherd in his hands and he wears a Rundamala (Garland of human heads). His mouth is smeared with blood and he has fearful jaws. He has robust arms and is always naked. His hair is dishevelled and he is intoxicated with blood and wine. Vetal is supposed to be the chief of the Bhutas and included in Shiva gana.

In some temples of Vetal from Sanguem and Sattari taluka, twin images of Vetal are worshipped. Though both the images have similar features, one is called Agio (Agni Jiva) Vetal and the other Gorakh Vetal.

Occasionally, devotees of Vetal offer cocks, goats and buffaloes to him. In Pernem and Sanguem talukas hunted animals are offered and later shared and eaten by the devotees.
Vetal being the Gramadevata is the guardian of the village and he is supposed to move throughout the village at night and keep vigil over the property of his devotees. And hence his sandals get worn off. The devotees take a vow and make offering of sandals to Vetal. In the Vetal temple of Poinguini village, such sandals offered by the devotees are kept in a row.

Clay horses – votary offerings to Mharu- Photo by Mohan Pai


Mharu is located on the outskirts of the villages. Like Vetal, he is the guardian of the villages and roams at night throughout the village. In Chandel and Varkhand of Pedne taluka and in Talaulim and Usgao of Ponda taluka we find Mharu worship. According to Buddhist legend Indra sent Mharu to disturb Buddha’s meditation. There is a tradition of offering terracotta horses to Mharu in some villages of Goa.

Bagil Paik, Mallikarjun Temple, Gaondongrem – Photo by Mohan Pai


Paiks are worshipped in some villages of Sanguem and Cancona talukas and is a Parivar devata in some shrines. He is shown as a horse rider. There are various types of Paiks such as Bagil Paik, Gode Paik, Razon Paik, Kanna Paik, etc.
Dadda is similar to Vetal but its stature is inferior to that of Vetal. Dadda has been given the status of Parivar devata in many shrines of Goa. (V. R. Mitragotri)

Jageshwar – Photo by Mohan Pai

Ancestor Worship
In many communities ancestor worshipwas prevalent. Vadus, Satvats, Haiyas, Bhojakas, Andhakas, Chedis and Vishnis were worshipped as ancestors. The head of the families were called Kulupa. Thease heads(Kulupa) were supposed to have divine powers and they were idolised as Kulapurush. The worship of Gramapurush, Adipurush, Pardipurush, Kanadipurush, Gavdovmsh and Sutapurush is common in Goa. These ancestors occupy the position of Parivar devata in the temples of Goa. The ancestors are chiselled in stone Plaque and worshipped.

Roadside Shrine of Jageshwar-Photo by Mohan Pai

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The Flight of Gods 4. Tulasi Vrindavan


The Flight of Gods
by Mohan Pai


One of the most enduring icon of the Hiduism is Tulasi or the Holy Basil plant (Ocium Sanctum).Tulasi has a special place in the Indian psyche -it has held the supreme place among the various herbs and has been worshipped as a divinity in the Indian household since the early Vedic times for thousands of years. Usually there is ashrine for Tulasi plant in the courtyard having images of deities on all four sides and an alcove for a small earthen lamp.
In Goa, this icon is very visible wherever you goin a multitude of varieties, often brightly painted versions, some quite elaborately constructed. Others are quite small and plain, decorated only with a painted ‘OM’. There is every graduation in between and, in less prosperous circumstances, a rough, baked clay version serves the purpose.

Vrindavan in a courtyard, Keri in Sattari – Pic by Mohan Pai
But even this simple household shrine which was a symbol of Hindu culture, was not tolerated and during the first fire of conquest, the Portugese evangelists ordered destruction of these shrines in every household in the conquered territories.

But even this simple household shrine which was a symbol of Hindu culture, was not tolerated and during the first fire of conquest, the Portugese evangelists ordered destruction of these shrines in every household in the conquered territories.

Poor man’s simple, mud Vrindavan
In most temples of Goa, Tulasi Vrindavans are an essential part of the layout. Usually it is located to one side of the front entrance to the mandapa. The Vrindavans vary from the majestic example of seven metres high Baroque inspired structure at the Mahalasa Temple at Mardol to the elaborately tile-decorated pedestal at the Mangueshi Temple.
The plant is termed “Vishnupriya”, the beloved of Vishnu. There are many Puranic legends according to which Tulasi is ceremonially married to Lord Vishnu annually on the 11th day of the month of Kartika in the Lunar Calendar and the ritual is called “Tulsi Lagna”which is celebrated in Goaespecially by the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin familieswith elaborate ceremony in which the image of Vishnu is richly decorated and then carried to the Tulasi Vrindavan and there the marriage is rituallysolemnised. On this occasion while Tualsi Plant is the bride, Jino Bodi (leca sambuce folia) represents the groom, Vishnu. Sugarcane represents the best man (dedo) and tamarindthe brides maid (dedi). Tulasi Lagna is part of the overall Deepavali festival and the Vivah day itself is called Greater Deepavali (Vodli Diwali) in Goa. This event inaugurates the marriage season in India.

7 meter high Tulasi Vrindavan at Mahalasa temple before it was demolished


According to the story about Tulasi related in Padma Purana, she was Vrinda in her former birth, the faithful wife of demon Jalandhar who born in water, claimed sovereignty over the ocean. He demanded 14 treasures churned out of the ocean in Vishnus’s second incarnation of the boar. Jalandhar declares war and becomes a threat to the Gods. More so because of a boon that assures that he would be free from death till his wife Vrinda remains chaste. As a last resort, Vishnu beguiles Vrinda by assuming her husband’s form. When she realises the deception, infuriated Vrinda curses Lord Vishnu who is turned into a black stone (Shaligram). Lord Vishnu also retaliates but in admiration of her impeccable chastity and piety he turns her into the sacred Tulasi plant and promises to marry her annually on this day of Kartika month.

Pic: courtesy ‘Parmal’
Another story states that Tulasi was the paramour of Lord Vishnu. Out of jealousy Goddess Lakshmi cursed her and turned her into a plant. The Lord transferred himself into the sacred Shalagram stone to keep her company. The origin of the ammonite black stone found on the river bed of Gandaki may be attributed to this legend.
The cultural mythology of Tulasi plant and its medicinal uses are intricately linked. Holy basilhas been traditionally used in Ayurveda to treat many ailments. This plant of Indian origin gradually spread all over the world as an unique herb.
Traditional Hindu women worship the holy plant every morning and evening with ‘pradakshana’ (Circumambulation) to promote well-being of the household.

Pic: courtesy ‘Parmal’

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The Flight of Gods 3. Gaud Saraswat Saga

The Flight of Gods

by Mohan Pai



Goud Saraswat Brahmin community called the ‘Bamans’ in Goa is the largest Brahmin community in Goa that has dominated the Hindu religious and cultural scene in Goa.
The history of the GSBs goes back to several millenia and the history is hazy. According to some sources they migrated to Goa around 700 BC but some historians push back there settlement in Goa to around 2,500 BC.
With the advent of the Aryans, the original settlers – Gauddes, Kunbis, Mhars, Dhangars, Velips etc. were subjugated and treated as Shudras. The coastal society characterised by the administration of their lands within the village communities, the ‘Gaoponn’- belonging to and managed by the community. The GSBs assumed control of these institutions and established their hegemony over the economic resources and socio-ritual pratices of the society.
The GSBs claim their origin to the Vedic civilisation on the banks of Saraswati, now the extinct river of the Punjab and their name is derived from the river Saraswati. The exact origin of the GSBs is difficult to ascertain. According to the Puranas, they are Aryan migrants from the Central Asia who came to the Indian sub-continent through the Hindu-Kush mountains to the south in about 5,000-2,000 BC. Vedic texts mention that the Rigvedic people lived on the banks of the Saraswati. The Saraswat Brahmins are mentioned in the Vedas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata and the Bhavisyottara Purana, deriving their lineage from the great sage Saraswat Muni who lived on the banks of the river Saraswati.

Drained by seven rivers (Sapta Sindhu), the region of Brahmavarta is referred to as the cradle of Indian civilisation. This ancient civilisation of India had an extended period of development from 5,000 to 2,000 BC when a great period of drought seemed to have put an end to it. The river Saraswati also dried up during this period forcing the Vedic people to migrate to the east, the west and the south. The three main groups migrated to Goa were the Bhojas, the Chediyas (Chardos) and the Saraswats who are supposed to have come via Trihotra in Bihar. It is also claimed that they moved southward mostly through the sea routes on the west coast coming down via Sindh and Gujarat. They settled in Gomantak region of Keloshi (Qulossim) and Kushasthal (Cortallim). Thirty families were grouped into one commune and sixty in another. The first commune was known as Tiswadi meaning 30 villages, and the other Shasasthis meaning 66 (Salcette). Together the settlements which amounted to 96 and referred to as Sahanavis (meaning 96). The name Shenvis or Shenoy is probably derived from here.

LEGEND OF PARASHURAMThe mythical creation of Goa is ascribed to Lord Parashuram, the sixth incarnation of God Vishnu.
According to this legend in Goa, Lord Parashuram, the axe-wielding avatar of God Vishnu is the son of Jamadagni and Renuka. Jamadagni is murdered by the despotic Kshatriyas because he refuses to part with ‘Kamadhenu’, his wish-fullfilling cow. In revenge Lord Parashurama traverses the earth twenty one times and wipes out all the Kshatriyas. Parashuram, struck by remorse tries to expiate his sins by performing yagnyas during which he gifts away all his lands to Sage Kashyapa with no land even to build an hermitage for himself. Varuna, the Sea God comes to his rescue and offers him to gain as much land that he could span by shooting an arrow into the waters. Lord Parashuram goes to the highest peak in the Sahyadris and shoots an arrow into the sea. The spot where the arrow fell is the present day Banaulim (bana is arrow in Sanskrit and halli means village in Kannada). To his new reclaimed land in Goa Lord Parashuram brought 96 families of the Panchagouda Brahmins from Trihotra and settled them at Mathagrama (Madgaon), Kushasthali (Cortallim) and Kardalli (Keloshi). There still exists a ‘Mountain of Ash’ in Harmal of Pernem taluk which marks the site of Lord Parashuram’s Ashvamedha Yagnya.
There is a temple for Lord Parashurama at Poinguini village in Goa. It is one of the rare temples to Lord Parashurama. There are only two other places in India where the temples of Lord Parashuram exist: one at Parashuram Pethe near Chiplun in Maharashtra and the other in Payannur in Kerala.We see mention of GSBs in the inscriptions clearly from


A painting of Lord Parashuramat Parashuram temple in Poiguini


as early as the tenth century onward because of their names which are common among GSBs. They might have received grants and positions in the agraharas even earlier, but we are not in a position to identify. The names of Sangalya Pai and his son Anna Pai appear in Silhara copper plate of 997 AD in north Konkan. The Marcella plates of Goa Kadamba ruler Chatta or Shasta II dated 1038 AD mention the names of officers like Pradhana (Prime Minister) Shriya Pai, Dama Pai, Mav Pai, Mahalla (Mahalkar), Kallapai and Sanvigrahi (Foreign Minister) Mallapai. The first record of the Yadavas of Devgiri, the Sinner plates dated 1,000 AD mentions grants given to twenty one bragmins and donees include Maalpaiya, Dandapaiya, Bhikkapai, Vachach Pai – mostly GSBs.
AGRAHARASIn olden days agrahara or Brahmin settlements were founded by kings and rulers by donating land grants and providing them with houses so that they could engage themselves in their six-fold duties. The lands granted were ‘Sarvamanya’ – free from revenue payment. Brahmins did not till or cultivate these lands, but enjoyed a part of its products and earned their livelihood. Goa had hundreds of agraharas in which the Brahmin communities were settled. GSBs were invited by various rulers to settle down in Gomantak, beginning perhaps with the Satvahanas (2,000 years ago) to the Goa Kadambas in the tenth century.


The Brahmins who received such grants were called ‘mahajans’. Salgaon (from Shalagrama) was an agrahara; Marcella or Mashel (from Mahashala), Salvali, Saleli, Sal, Odshel (Hodli Shala) Madgaon or Mathashala etc. are some of the names which clearly indicate their being centres of learning or agraharas. Apart from performing religious functions, they also taught and guided the community in all its persuits like agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, etc. The Mahajans of the agraharas were learned men and specialised in Ayurveda, Pashuvaidya, astronomy, astrology, metallurgy, botany, etc.

The settlers of the agraharas, over a period, probably multiplied to such an extent that the lands granted to the families several centuries ago were insufficient to support the families and the young men of the family had to find other avenues like trade and government service. So they became merchants, village accountants, clerks, interpreters and even higher officials like the Desais, ministers and administrators as they were the literati and the community prospered.

The GSBs also brought with them their family deities and built their temples and also accepted the various local gramadevatas into Hinduism. The temples were built within or in the vicinity of the agraharas and became the prime religious and social centres for the local Communities.

Tom Pires, a Portugese apothecary, who came to India in 1514 after Albuquerque conquered Ilhas mentions in his writings that there was a very large Hindu population and he gives the following description which obviously is that of the Gauda Sarswat elite:“There are a great many heathens in the kingdom of Goa …Some of them very honoured men with large fortunes; and almost the whole kingdom lies in their hands, … Some of them are noblemen with many followers and lands of their own and are persons of great repute, and wealthy, and they live on their estates which are gay and fresh … They have beautiful temples of their own in this kingdom … There are some very honoured stocks among these Brahmins … These Brahmins are greatly revered throughout the country, particularly among the heathens… They are clever, prudent, learned in their religion. A Brahmin would not become a Mohammedan (even) if he were a king.”

By the middle of the sixteenth century all the villages in the “Old Conquest” had become Catholic. The Hindus remained only in the townships. There was an exodus of the Hindus. Thousands of families fled from the horrors to the areas outside the Portugese control to the northern Konkan and to the southern coast and settled down all along the coast in the towns of Karwar, Gokarna, Kumta, Honavar, Bhatkal, Kasargod, Calicut and Cochin.
The Hindu elite, mostly the Gaud Saraswats, who stayed behind earned profits through their collaboration with the Portugese and these profits were used by the Hindus for the reconstruction of the temples of the migrant deities outside the reach of the missionaries, in the Antruz Mahal in particular. The Portugese discovered that the Christian Goa was encircled in an arc by the resurrected Hindu temples towards which they had indirectly contributed and this rankled and frustrated the missionaries to no end.

For centuries, the Goud Saraswat Brahmins had established their economic hegemony over Goa through colonisation of the low-lying saline coastal lands. In the face of an aggressive proselyting European colonial power, with their grit and determination, they seem to have triumphed. Dispossessed of the lands that they had developed, the GSBs assumed a controlling position in the coastal trade and still played vital role in Goa’s economy. In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, these same traders bailed out the Portugese Government by arranging finance when the Government coffers were empty.missionaries considerably abated and especially when Marquis de Pombal, the liberal Prime Minister came to power there was definite change in the policy towards the Hindus and he even banished the Jesuits. A number of Hindu families who had fled the old conquests returned during this period. But, by the 19th century, both the ruling country and the colony had become archaic survivors.

The Gaud Saraswat Brahmins in particular and other Hindu communities in Goa remained insulated from what was happening to their co-religionists in other parts of India. The Goan Hindu is therefore of relatively greater purity than Hindus elsewhere and have guarded zealously their religious rites, practices and of the observance of customs, rituals and festivals. At the same time, they were the ones who by their own grit and intelligence managed to survive the dark period of the inquisition by making themselves indispensable.

The Portugese would have continued this fanatical evangelism movement relentlessly till the total extermination of the non-Christians was achieved but for the rapid collapse of Portugal’s eastern commercial empire with its inevitable effect on Goa which faced moral and economic decadence and the initial religious zealotory.

Hindu Communities of GoaBRAHMINS
Among the other smaller groups of Brahmins are 1. Karhades 2. Padhyes 3. Bhattaprabhu and 4. Kramavant Joshis
Karhade Brahmins speak Marathi and were probably natives of Karad in Maharashtra. The Silaharas of Kolhapur as well as the Southern Silaharas and the Kadambas patronized Karhade Brahmins. Karhades claim that they were among the earliest Aryan migrants to Goa. Padheye Brahmins are believed to be a section of Karhade Brahmins. They also speak Marathi and their sttlements are mainly concentrated in Ponda taluka and they own large ‘Kulagars’ (betel-nut and coconut plantations). Bhattaprabhu community originally belongs to Bori and Siroda of Ponda taluka. Although there is a considerable similarity in the social conditions of Bhattaprabhu and Padheyes, unlike Karhades and Padheyes, Bhattaprabhus speak Konkani. Kramavant Brahmins is another small but separate group who mostly performed rituals after the death and hence they were called Kriyavant, a term corrupted to Kramavant.


Like the above groups of brahmins, the guravas is also a small community in Goa. Guravas were the worshippers of Lord Shiva. There are Gurava priests in the temples of Chandreshwae-Bhutanath, Saptakoteshwar and Mhalasa and were priests in the shrines of Gramadevatas scattered all over Goa.

The artisas such as gold-smiths, black-smiths, carpentars, sculptors (Shilpis and Stapatis), copper-smiths were called the Panchala Brahmins. It is believed that along with Goud Saraswat Brahmins, Panchala Brahmins were also brought to Goa by Lord Parashuram about 2,500 BC to assist the priests in performing sacrifices.

SHETS (Goldsmiths)
The Goldsmiths probably arrived in Goa during the Gaud Saraswat migration with other artisans. They call themselves Daividnya Brahmins and probably inherited their arts from the Bhojas. The local goldsmiths, Shets or Chalims as they are referred to in Portugese documents, constituted a powerful economic presence in the sixteenth century Goa, for the exquisite expertise of their craft which has earned them rich accolades at home and abroad. Some of them even went to Portugal and worked their for the king. The economic power that the Shets wielded during that time enabled them to live and work in Goa on their own terms, or emigrate with their religion in tact and claiming higher status in the early medieval period.

The other groups in this section included Sculpters (Stapathis) and Architects Carpenters and Blacksmiths whose work can be seen in the carved wooden pillars and decorative wood ceilings of Goa temples. After the Portugese atrocities, most of these groups migrated to Uttara Kannada region.

The Bhojas were the first rulers to have established an administrative machinery in Goa and they also controlled the piracy and gave impetus to increased commercial activity.
There is reference to Adityashreshti in Siroda copper plate of Devaraja. It is evident that merchants were engaged in trade and commerce as early as 400 AD in Goa and there were probably their settlements on the banks of the Mandovi and Zuari and the trade routes. Vanis were called Shresthis and the family name Shirsat may have originated from the word Shreshti. Vaishys come next to Kshatriyas in the four-fold division of the society (Chaturvarna).

Kshatriya families migrated from the North to the Deccan in pre-Christian and early Christian era. Some scholars consider Chardos of Goa to be Kshatriyas. Some scholars identify Marathas with Kshatriyas and they may have reached Goa during the period of the Badami Chalukyas. It is mentioned that Rashtrakutas and Silaharas were Marathas.

The Ranes claim their descent from the Rajputs of Rajputana. They were thesardesais or hereditary fiefholders of Sanquelim and Guilloilem, holding under their feudal sway, the territory of Sattari – the land of seventy villages.The Ranes have been well-known for their attempts to dislodge the Portugesefrom Goa. In all there were about fourteen rebellions out of which the most successful one was organised by Dipaji Rane.Kushtoba Rane is a well-known historical personality and an immortal hero of the folk and popular songs.

Gavades are known as “Mull Goenkar” or the original inhabitants of Goa and they form a large part of the rural population estimated to be around 3 lakhs.

Kunbi Woman

The Velip community is found mostly in the talukas of Canacona and Quepem. In comparison with the Gavades, they are fair and handsome. The Velips are credited with discovering the Linga of Mallikarjun and hence, the Velip acts as a priest for three months every year. Velips are generally forest dwellers and practiced the ‘Kumeri’ (burn and slash) method of shifting cultivation.

DHANGARS (Gavalys)

Gavalys originally came from Maharashtra and are mostly found in Sattari and Sanguem talukas. Dhangars are strictly a pastoral tribe.


Old traditions die hard – Syncretism

The Hindu practices or activities were very much part of the new converts. For example, the edicts publihed by Goa Inquisition in 1736, after over two centuries of Catholisism in Goa, list out 42 so-called Hindu pratices and customs which were prohibited through the edicts. As many of the prohibited customs still survive today, it is clear that the Inquisition was unable to shake off the Hindu quality of Goan Christianity. Goa has Brahmin and Chardos Christians and Christians of lower caste. The main fact remains is that the caste mechanism was in effect transferred in its essence to a casteless religion because of the transfer of classes with essentially the same productive relations. Caste appears to be a stronger source of bonding than religion.The syncretism has established a common meeting point between the Hindus and the Catholics in terms of devotion and ritualistic practices. Requests for miraculous cure, prasada (oracle), vows, offerings, temple feasts, etc. draw a section of the local Catholic community to Hindu temples. The umbrella festival of Cuncolim is a classic example when in the month of March, the image of Shanta Durga is brought by solid silver palanquin in a vast and colourful procession from Fatorpa to Cuncolim. Each umbrella is different and stands for one of the twelve Chardo clans from Cuncolim area. A large number of Catholics attend this event.In the villages of Cuncolim, Assolna, Velim, and Veroda, Catholic and Hindu Chardo clans openly cooperate as kin, standing against lower caste invasion of their traditional privileges. In this case, common religious belief in the goddess Shanta Durga strengthens the feeling of common kinship and history.


According to the Gazeteer of the erstwhile Union Territory, 1979, the Gavade belong to Astraloid race and were the first to settle in Goa even before the Dravidians and the Aryans. After the invasion of the Aryans, they adopted Hinduism as their religion, but continued their own form of worship and rituals.The Hindu Gavade worship Bali, Bhima and Mallikarjun.The Portugese forcibly converted some of them to Christianity in the 17th century. In 1928 the “Shuddhi” movement by Masurker Maharaj reconverted some of them to Hinduism and they are called Nav-Hindu Gavade. These reconvertees, unfortunately not accepted by either the Hindu or Christian Gavades, maintain a separate identity.

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The Flight of Gods 2. The Portugese Episode

The Flight of Gods


“Almas e especiaria” (We come to seek Christians and Spices) said Vasco da Gama, who landed at Kappad beach near Calicut in 1498 after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, the first to negotiate the sea route from Europe to India. Following his epic voyage, the Portugese built bases at Anjediva Island near Goa and at Cannanore.
Portugal was the first European country to establish its colonial presence in India and the last to leave its shores. They were ruthless conquerors and proselytism was their main aim. They came “Cujus regio, illius religio” – Sword in one hand and the Cross in the other – a policy of fanatical evangelisation especially after the introduction of the “rigour of mercy” (rigor de misericordia) in 1541.
Memorial to Vasco da Gama at Kappad Beach, Kerala – Pic by Mohan Pai
Afonso Albuquerque succeeded in capturing the island of Ilhas (Tiswadi) with 20 ships and 1200 men after two attempts a bitter fight with the forces of Adil Shah. His main collaborators were Timaji, the Vijayanagar Admiral and Mhall Pai Vernekar, the Sardesai of Verna. It was at the invitation of Goan Hindus that Afonso Albuquerque decided to attack Goa. The Hindus were considerably disturbed by the activities of the Navayats who were brought by Adil Shah to Goa from Honavar and Bhatkal and who indulged in frequent acts of harrassment against the local Hindus. The militarygovernors under the Mohamedans, themselves local men, called the Desais were hated for their autocratic behaviour, which wen as far as forcing their formal equals to work as menials in the household, and treating the communal land as feudal if not private property. Afonso Albuquerque, during this attack put to death over 6,000 Muslims without showing any mercy..By 1543, the Portugese had annexed from the Bijapuris the adjoining lands of Bardez in the north and Salcete in the south. These three territories of the Ilhas (Tiswadi), Bardez and Salcete were designated as the “Old Conquests”.
Blue-tiled murals which line the entrance hall of the Menezes BraganzaInstitute. It’s a uniquely Portugese art form ‘azulezos’ which depictscenes from the great poem by Luis de Camos, ‘The Lusiads’ whichtells the story of the adventure of the Portugese Empire in the east.
It was not until 1764 that the ruler of Sonda threatened by the invasion of Hyder Ali, sought an asylum with the Portugese and placed his territories of Ponda, Sanguem, Ouepem and Canacona in the custody of the Portugese. Between 1781 and 1788 the Portugese succeededin negotiating and acquiring the northern areas of Pernem, Bicholim and Sattari from Bhonsales of Sawantwadi. Thus by 1788 the present boundaries of Goa were in place under the Portugese.
The proselytising of the local Hindus began in real earnest with the appointment of Miguel Vaz Coutinho as the Vicar-General of Goa in1941 who is credited withthe launching of concentrated and oppressive attacks on the local Hindus. Their temples destroyed, lands confiscated and their revenues and the material of the destroyed temples made available for the construction of churches and other ‘pious’ works. Again the decree of 1559 sanctioned the emolition of Hindu temples and idols, prohibited making of such images, banned the celebration of Hindu feasts, prohibited cremation of the Hindu dead and exiled Hindu priests.In 1560, ‘celebrating’ fifty years of Portugese occupation, the horrors of the Inquisition were inflicted on Goa. Described as “the Terrible Tribunal for the East”, the inquisition brought in its wake a fresh wave of religious persecution for the Hindus who were forced to convert or be damned to a life of harassment or emigration and as a result rapid and extensive conversions were achieved. Many were converted by fear of physical force, others from moral cowardice and quite a few to avoid loss of their property. This caused a general emigration of higher caste Hindus, and the tradition was that one brother of an extensive joint family would stay behind to be converted with his wife and children, for the sake of the land, while the rest fled.
This led to a breakup of what would have been the final type of patriarchal family. But the subsidiary effect was curious, in that henceforth Goa had “Brahmin Christians” and Christians of lower castes, the caste mechanism having been transferred in its essence to a casteless religion. Between 1541 and 1568 all the existing Hindu temples in the Ilhas, Bardez and Salcete were completely destroyed by the Portugese and according to the record there were 116 temples in the Ilhas, 176 in Bardez and 264 in Salcete. The Arch of the Viceroys, which once was the main gateway to the city was built by Vasco da Gama’s great-grandson. On taking office, all Viceroys made their processional entrance with great ceremony through this archway where they were presented with the keys of the city.

The Arch of the Viceroys , Old Goa – Pic by Mohan Pai

By the end of the sixteenth century all the villages in the “old Conquest” had become Catholic. The Hindus remained only in the townships. There was an exodus of the Hindus. Thousands of families fled from the horrors to the areas outside the Portugese control to the northern Konkan and to the southern coast and settled down all along the coast in the towns of Karwar, Gokarna, Kumta, Honavar, Bhatkal, Kasargod, Calicut and Cochin.
At the end of the seventeenth century it is estimated that out of a total population of two hundred fifty thousand in the Old Conquests, only twenty thousand were non-Christians. These included a large number of traders and visitors who were in Goa for temporary stays.
The Portugese would have continued this fanatical evangelism movement relentlessly till the total extermination of the non-Christians was achieved but for the rapid collapse of Portugal’s eastern commercial empire with its inevitable effect on Goa which faced moral and economic decadence and the initial religious zealotory of the missionaries considerably abated especially when Marquis de Pombal, the liberal Prime Minister came to power there was definite change in the policy towards the Hindus and he even banished the Jesuits. A number of Hindu families who had fled the old conquests returned during this period. But, by the 19th century, both the ruling country and the colony had become archaic survivors.
Buddhism came to Goa in 2nd century BC and the reference to Goa in the Buddhist documents is made as ‘Suvarnabhumi’ and ‘Sunaparanta’ meaning the ‘Land of Gold. The Portugese did not create the “Golden Goa”. On the contrary it was the prosperity, opulence and fabulous wealth of an already legendary “Golden Goa” that drew them to possess it. Goa was already a fabled realm around which “ Tales from the Arabian Nights” were woven. When the Portugese came, the city and port had shifted to the north, to the banks of the Mandovi. But by all accounts, it was by then even more important and splendidly prosperous. Goa had remained a major entrepot for centuries – under the Kadambas, under Vijayanagar and under the Bahamanis. Ships still sailed from Sumatra (even China), Aden and Hormuz. Overland caravans brought the fabled riches of the central and south India from Devgiri (Daulatabad) and Vijayanagar(Hampi) to be traded for horses and muskets.
With the Portugese came mal-administration, rampant corruption, religious bigotry and brutal persecution. The public treasury was depleted and consuming public epidemics and perhaps more than anything else, the forced conversions and the black practices of the Goa Inquisition hastened the end of prosperity and the “Golden Goa”.
During the seventeenth century the religious fervour was at its peak showing no signs of flagging, in the face of degeneration in other aspects of Goan life. It was a ‘museum’ of 16th century imperialism, more plentifully supplied with churches than trade and with monks than soldiers. With progressive deterioration in civil administration, the ‘monks’ assumed considerable importance and influence, and the conversion process continued with frentic vigour. A great surge of ecclesiastical building had followed the arrival of the religious orders after 1540 and religious fervor backed by the accumulated wealth of Goa’s commercial heyday, now carried this architectural exuberance throughout the period of economic and political disarray on even a grander scale than before. This was the time when the great churches of Goa were completed and the city itself continued to present a brave social front, flaunting ostentation and luxury in defiance of economic circumstances.

Se Cathedral, Old Goa – Pic by Mohan Pai

The Se Cathedral is one of the largest in Asia and took nearly 90 years for completion after the church was ordered to be built by the King of Portugal in 1562. This was the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in Asia inthe 16th and 17th centuries. It was built in the Renaissance style with some traces of Portugese Gothic. The famous “Golden Bell”, the largest bell in Goa is housed here.
The ‘gold’ of Goa Dourada refers not only to the sixteenth century glitter of churches and the prosperity of city of Goa but to its being European – the ‘Rome of the East’ possessing distinctly Lusitanian flavour. But the real Goa was ‘Goa Indica’, an essentially the eastern looking mode of cultural expression that sought religious, cultural and economic affiliation to the mainstream India.
Goa continued to languish under the Portugese colonial rule as a decadent province with a ruined economy and they did little besides maintaining order. Economic development was minimal, educational opportunities were lacking for the majority of people and political liberties lagged far behind those in the British territories across the border. These conditions turned Goa into a land from which its people migrated and went into exile and sought work and higher education in Bangalore, Belgaum, Calcutta, Karachi and above all, Bombay. Many Goans moved out of India to British colonies in East Africa and onto passenger ships as stewards, cooks and crew.
Portugal became a Republic in 1910 which liberated the Hindus of Goa from centuries of discrimination and repression. Immediately they flooded into schools, formed associations, started journals and libraries and took active role in public life as teachers, members of government councils and administrative officials. But by the year 1926 Salazar regime was established and this imposed fresh restrictions.
After World War II, Portugal tried to hold on to the fragments of her Indian empire By belatedly encouraging industries like mining and by turning Goa into a duty-free port.
The Portugese colonies of Goa, Daman and Diu were finally liberated from the decadent colonialism by Indian armed forces on December 19, 1961. The Portugese had clung to these pockets for 451 years.
In the year 1851 the Christian population of Goa amounted to 64.5%, mostlyThe converted masses from the Old Conquests. By the year 1910 the Christian and the Hindu population were almost equal (50% each). In 2003 Hindus areIn majority (66%) followed by the Christians (26%) and Muslims (7%).
The major Hindu groups are represented by the Brahmin communities (Gaud Saraswats, Karhade, Padhye, Battaprabhu, etc.), Shets (Goldsmiths), Vaishyas(Vanis), Ksahtriyas, Guravs and a large population of the original Pre-Dravidian and Dravidian settlers represented by Gauddes, Kulawadis, Kharvis, Kulambis(Kunbis), Velips, Dhangars, Gavlis. Mhars, etc. who were absorbed into Hinduism.
These tribes made Goa a place of rich and Vibrant culture as represented by ‘Gaunkaris’, their folk dances and songs like the Gaudde Jagor, Kunbi Naach, Dhalo, Gudulyan geet, Perni Jagor and their folk deities – Vetal and Santer cults which are the original cults of Gauddes and Kunbis.
by Mohan Pai

The Flight of Gods – Hindu Temples and Shrines of Goa – 1.

by Mohan Pai

Hindu Temples & Shrines of Goa
Hindu Temples
All over the ancient civilized world, wherever primitive civilization came into existence (in Africa, Western & eastern Asia, Europe) a temple always arose. “The beginnings of civilization and the appearance of temples is simultaneous in history. The two things belong together. The beginning of cities is the temple stage of history” (H. G. Wells). People have lived in the town of Jericho continuously since about 9,000 BC. A shrine stands on the site of ancient Jericho in the Near East on the west bank of river Jordan. Perhaps this is the oldest temple recorded in human history.
Birth of Hindu Temples
In India, the Vedic people did not have temples but had outdoor platforms termed as “Yagasala” for Vedic rituals. Temples do not seem to have existed during the Vedic age. It is the Yagasala of the Vedic period that gradually got metamorphosed into temples owing to the influence of the cults of devotion and the images of the deities of the Vedas came into vogue by the end of the epic period.The earliest temples were built with perishable materials like timber and clay and the cave-temples, temples carved out of the stone or built with bricks came later. Heavy stone structures with ornate architecture and sculpture belong to a still later period.There is a basic set pattern for building of temple followed both in the North and in the South. In spite of the basic pattern being the same, varieties did appear, gradually leading to the evolution of different styles in temple architecture. Broadly speaking, these can be classified into the northern and the southern styles. The northern style, technically called nagara, is distinguished by the curvilinear towers. The southern style, known as the dravida, has its towers in the form of truncated pyramids. A third style, vesara by name, is sometimes added, which combines in itself both these styles. They employ respectively the square, octagon and the apse or circle in their plan. These three styles do not pertain strictly to three different regions but as indicating only the temple groups.

Nagara, Dravida & Vesara designs

The temples at Sanchi, Tigawa (near Jabbalpur in Madhya Pradesh), Bhumara (in Madhya Pradesh), Nachna (Rajasthan) and Deogarh (near Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh) have withstood the vagaries of time and are the earliest temples belonging to Gupta period (320-650 A.D.)

The Dravidan school of architecture, evolved from the earliest Buddhist shrines which were both rock-cut and structural. These earliest temples which have survived are found in Tamil Nadu and northern Karnataka. The later rock-cut temples which belong roughly to the period 500-800 A.D. were mostly Brahmanical or Jain, patronised by three great ruling dynasties of the south, namely the Pallavas of Kanchi in the east, the Chalukyas of Badami in the 8th century A.D, the Rastrakutas of Malkhed made great contributions to the development of south Indian temple architecture. The Kailasanatha temple at Ellora belongs to this period.
Aihole and Pattadakal group of temples (5 – 7 centuries) in northern Karnataka show early attempts to evolve an acceptable regional style based on tradition. Among the better known early structural temples at Aihole are the Huchimalligudi and Durga temples as also the Ladkhan temple, all assigned to the period 450-650 A.D. Equally important are the temples of Kasinatha, Papanatha, Sangamesvara, Virupaksa and others in Pattadakal near Aihole as also the Svargabrahma temple at Alampur (Andhra Pradesh). It is in some of these temples, built by the later Chalukyas, that we come across the vesara style, a combination of the northern and the southern modes.The dravida or Tamilian style became very popular throughout south India only from the Vijayanagar times onward. The northern style came to prevail in Rajasthan Upper India, Orissa, the Vindhyan uplands and Gujarat.During the next thousand years (from600 to 1600 A.D.) there was a phenomenal growth in temple architecture both in quantity and quality. The first in the series of southern or dravidian architecture was initiated by the Pallavas (600-900A.D.) The rock-cut temples at Mahabalipuram (of the aks. The temples, now built of stone, became bigger, more complex and ornate with sculptures. Dravidian architecture reached its glory during the Chola period (900-1200 A.D.) by becoming more imposing in size and endowed with happy proportions. Among the most beautiful of the Chola temples is the Brihadisvara temple at Tanjore with its 66 metre high vimana, the tallest of its kind. The later Pandyans who succeeded the Cholas improved on the style by introducing elaborate ornamentation and big sculptural images, many-pillared halls, new annexes to the shrine and towers (gopurams) on the gateways. The mighty temple complexes of Madurai and Srirangam in Tamil Nadu set a pattern for the Vijayanagar builders (1350-1565 A.D.) who followed the dravidian tradition. The Pampapati and Vitthala temples in Hampi are standing examples of this period. The Nayaks of Madurai who succeeded the Vijayanagar kings (1600-1750 A.D.) made the dravidian temple complex even more elaborate by making the gopurams very tall and ornate and adding pillared corridors within the temple long compound.
Madurai and Srirangam in Tamil Nadu set a pattern for the Vijayanagar builders (1350-1565 A.D.) who followed the dravidian tradition. The Pampapati and Vitthala temples in Hampi are standing examples of this period. The Nayaks of Madurai who succeeded the Vijayanagar kings (1600-1750 A.D.) made the dravidian temple complex even more elaborate by making the gopurams very tall and ornate and adding pillared corridors within the temple long compound.Contemporaneous with the Cholas (1100-1300A.D.), the Hoysalas who ruled the Kannada country improved on the Chalukyan style by building extremely ornate temples in many parts of Karnataka noted for the sculptures in the walls, depressed ceilings, lathe-turned pillars and fully sculptured vimanas. Among the most famous of these temples are the ones at Belur, Halebid and Somanathapura in south Karnataka, which are classified under the vesara style. Today, in the state of Tamil Nadu alone, there are more than 10,000 temples, Of these 1,800 are in Tanjavur district alone. In the north, the chief developments in Hindu temple architecture took place in Orissa (750-1250 A.D.) and Central India (950-1050 A.D.) as also Rajasthan (10th and 11th Century A.D.) and Gujarat (11th-13th Century A.D.). The temples of Lingaraja (Bhubaneshwar), Jagannatha (Puri) and Surya (Konarak) represent the Orissan style. The temple at Khajuraho built by the Chandellas, the Surya temple at Modhera (Gujarat) and other temple at Mt. Abu built by the Solankis have their own distinct features in Central Indian architecture. Bengal with its temples built in bricks and terracotta tiles and Kerala with its temples having peculiar roof structure suited to the heavy rainfall of the region, developed their own localised special styles.The Hindus colonised the South East Asian countries from 7th century A.D. onwards and built many a temple. The earliest of such Hindu temples are found in Java; for instance, the Siva temples at Dieng and (Idong Songo built by the kings of Sailendra dynasty (8th-9th century A.D.). The group of temples of Lara Jonggrang at Pranbanan (9th or 10th century A.D.), is a magnificent example of Hindu temple architecture. Other temples worth mentioning are: the temple complex at Panataran (java) built by the kings of Majapahit dynasty (14th century A.D.), the rock-cut temple facades at Tampaksiring of Bali (11th century A.D.), the ‘mother’ temple at Besakh of Bali (14th century A.D.), the Chen La temples at Sambor Prei Kuk in Cambodia (7th-8th century A.D.)., the temple of Banteay Srei at Angkor (10th century A.D.) and the celebrated Angkor vat complex (12th century A.D.) built by Surya varman II
Hindu Temples and Shrines of Goa- A Goan Medly
Goa’s temples have a chequered history. With the invasion of Mohammedans, beginning from the 13th century to the Portugese conquer and occupation of the territory in the 16th century most of the Hindu Temples were looted and destroyed. No Hindu temple remained in the Old Conquests of the Portugese. The only surviving temple of the 12th/13th century is in a remote corner at Tambdi Surla. It was a forgotten site and was only rediscovered in the 1930s. This is a Shiva temple built in stone with carvings in traditional Dravida style.
In the 16th century, there is a record to show that the Portugese destroyed over 500 temples and shrines and used the building material for the construction of churches and other buildings. There are some fragments of these temples, like the Adil Shah’s Palace Gate to be found in the premises of St. Cajetan’s church at Old Goa today. The temple records give very little, for the oldest temples located in the New Conquests by flight at the end of the 16th century, were built in the 17th century or later to their present dimensions – and built in direct, if not very well understood copy of the Baroque Christian churches of the city of Old Goa (though the general style of Goa churches is that of Borromini’s Jesuit construction). This is understandable, as the Old Goa churches were the most imposing buildings, with Hindu workmen trained in that type of construction. When the emigre temples acquired funds enough for their rebuildings these same workmen built the new temples. What is surprising is that the replication seems to have been acceptable to the local Brahmins.
Temple records, if any survived the transfer, have generally been destroyed by sloth, vermin, time, the climate and on occasion fear of losing property acquired by encroachment without legal title.It was the Rajas of Sonda to whom the Hindus of Goa had turned when their temples in Goa had been destroyed, and who much to the annoyance of the Portugese, had openly encouraged Hindus to rebuild their temples in their domain of Ponda and elsewhere.
There are no Hindu temples in the Old conquests older than the 19th century. Even in the New conquests, few of the structures themselves were built before the 17th century. So most of the ‘old’ temples we see in Goa date from the 17th century at the earliest and majority from the 18th century.


Hindu temples in Goa provide yet another example of Goa’s quaint, sequestered identity, developed over the centuries under Portugese influence. Hindu temples did not remain unaffected by the distinct modes of architecture, craftsmanship, and interior decor which developed through four centuries of Portugese influence. Nowhere else in India does one find Hindu temples of Goan kind with church-like domes, doing for the typical tapering shikara or tower of Hindu temple tradition, with bungalow-like pillared porch fronting stepped entrance.
In its Hindu adaptation, the dome of the uniquely Goan temple assumed a more conspicuous profile, with a much smaller finial. The tower, or drum, was made octagonal rather than round and given a raised elevation in some temples, with each stage having lamp niches, columns and an elaborate, multi-moulded entablature.
Sri Kamakshi Temple, Shiroda
The Goan Miliue
“It takes centuries of life to make a little history
and it takes centuries of historyto make a little tradition”
- Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan
The present land of Goa (Circa 2006) is a unique political, social and cultural entity on the west coast of India. Out of the 25 states of the Republic of India, Goa is amongst the smallest and yet, Goa has a special aura of its own that attracts both national and international events, visitors and tourists in great droves. It is a small pocket with an area of only about 3,702 sq. km with a coastline of 104 km. It is bounded by the Arabian sea on the west, the Western Ghats on the east, the state of Maharashtra in the north and the state of Karnataka in the east and the south.


          Mauxi and Usgalimol Engravings
The first humans, the Homo Sapiens, appeared to have settled in Goa about 100 thousand years ago. The evidence of pre-historic tools and rock engravings in Usgalimal in Sanguem taluka and Mauxi, in Sattari taluka of Goa indicate a primitive culture that belongs to Mesolithic period of the Old Stone Age (10,000 – 5,000 BC). The early settlers were followed around 4,000 BC by the Kharvis and the toddy tappers. The Gauddes and the Kunbis (Kols, Mundas and Ouraons) emerged around 3,000 BC. The Tribal heritage of Goa is represented by the Gauddes, the Kunbis, the Velips and the Gavalys(Dhangars).The tribals represent an admixture of Austric and Dravidian settlers. These primitive people were nature worshippers whose folklore, superstitions and festivals still preserve their reverence for nature – the jungle, the sea, the sacred tree, the seasons, etc.
Local pre-Brahminic priest of Gauddes still continue in places like Kholgar. Most of their deities were absorbed by the Brahminic synthesis. Unabsorbed deities were converted to cacodemons, known generally as devchar but still worshipped by the Gauddes and the lower castes These subordinated semi-devine beings called ‘jagevile’ whose aniconic shrines are situated at various liminal sites, such as way crosses, dams, river banks, sea shores and above all the boundaries of the village territories.
The first group of Indo-Aryans said to have come by the sea and settled in Goa around 2,500 BC. The Goud Saraswat Brahmins who appeared to havecome in waves, between 700 BC and 500 AD, were the last Indo-Aryans to have settled in Goa, preceded by the Kshatriyas and the Karhade Brahmins.
The name ‘Goa’ or ‘Gomantak’ is an ancient term applied to this region. Mahabharata as well as Skandhapurana refers to it as‘Gomant’. Harivansha Purana makes a reference to it as ‘Gomanchal’ and Sutasamhita mentions ‘Govapuri’. During the time of the Buddha it was termed as ‘Sunaparant’ (Golden Land Beyond).Ptolemy, the Greek geographer (Second century AD) refers to Goa as ‘Kauba’. Arabs and the Persians called it Kuwa or Kawe and later as ‘Sindabur’ ( a corruption of the word ‘Chandrapur’). Goa is believed to have been well-known since the earlyhistory throughout the littoral countries of the Indian Ocean due to its importance as an entrepot.
Shenoy Goembab (Varde Valavlikar)explains the origin of the term ‘Gomantak’as a territory abounding in cattle from the Sanskrit word ‘Go’ meaning cattle.
For more than three millennia right till the end of the fifteenth century Goa was ruled by one or other of the Hindu kings who exercised suzerainty over this part of India, or by local chieftains who were the feudatory of these rulers. Goa was never an independent kingdom and its history up to late 18th century is inextricably meshed with the fortunes of major kingdoms and dynasties which rose and fell in the Deccan. It is two complex and too diffused a period to be telescoped into a brief and intelligible image. However, this vast period ofover three millennia is what built its intrinsically Hindu culture like the rest of India. The basic culture survived the numerous onslaughts and in-roads made by foreign powers beginning in the 14th century. Both the traditions and the culture have outlasted and survived the stormy blasts and violent and cruel periods of the history


Goa as a region, until the late 18th century, had changing boundaries that were constantly in a state of flux. Some historians claim that Goa was a part of the vast Maurya Empire in the third century BC, probably a part of Kuntala or the Banavasi administrative region of northern Karnataka. But in the absence of any material evidence this could be only a legend.The Bhoja dynasty – a feudatory of the Satvahanas (2nd Century BC) which is believed to have ruled from Chandramandala (Chandor), had South Goa, Karwar, Khanapur, Supa and Halyal region under their reign.

‘Rath’ celebration,Veling

The main Kadamba dynasty of Goa appeared to have ruled from 325 AD to 540 AD. They had three capitals. Halsi (Belgaum dist.), Banavasi (North Kanara) and Uchchangi (Bellary dist.). The area comprising Belgaum, Goa, North Kanara, Shimoga, Chitradurga and Bellary districts formed the main Kadamba Kingdomat its zenith. According to some inscriptions Mayurasarma was the founder of the main Kadamba dynasty.
Abhiras, Nagas, Traikotakas, Kshatrapas from Gujarat, Chutus from Karnataka and the Konkan Mauryas held sway over some parts of North and South Goa between the 3rd and the 6th century AD. The Chlukyas of Badami drove the Konkan Mauryas out and ruled Konkan region from 578 – 750 AD.

Kadamba Gold & Copper Coins

Goa came under the Rashtrakuta rule from 750 – 1020 AD and the Shilaharas of Kolhapur who administered as their feudatories. According to some historians, the Rashtrakutas are said to be originally from Goa (Loutulim) but later settled in Maharashtra with Malkhed as their capital. Shilahara king Jaliga had acquired the lordship of Gomantadurga and the territory covered a large area which included part of Ratnagiri up to Kharepatna river in thenorth and extended to Supa, Halyal , Ankola and Belgaum in the south.
Kadambas again became the feudatories of the Chalukyas who re-conquered Goa around 974 AD. Jayakeshi I shifted the capital of Goa to Govapuri or Gopakapattam. Subsequently the Hoysalas conquered Goa and made Kadambas their vassals. In the early 13th century, the Yadavas of Devgiri brought Goa under their reign and the Kadambas continued to be their vassals until 1314 when the Muslims attacked and sacked Govapuri
 Kadamba Emblem
Muslim invasions from the north mark the beginning of a new era in the history of Goa. These Muslim forays, though crippling, lacked permanency and hence resulted in the periodic revival of the Kadamba dynasty. Malik Kafur, the General of Allauddin Khilji invaded Goa in the year 1314 AD followed by another attack by Jamal-uddin, Nawab of Honavar with a fleet of 52 vessels as per the directive of the Delhi Sultan Mohamed Bin Tughlaq. Ibn Batuttah, the Moroccan traveller who has left a graphic account of the storming of the capital was, at his own request made the commander of the fleet. This conquest of the muslims finally ended the rule of the Kadambas of Goa. The Mohamadans looted and destroyed the Hindu temples en masse and their rule was nothing short of anarchy which lasted over a period of 50 years.
The rise of Vijayanagar Empire helped in liberating Goa from the strangleholdof Muslim rulers. In 1370 AD Harihara I of the Vijaynagar Empire sent MadhavMantri, a Gaud Saraswat Brahmin whose ancestors were from the Shenvi Regefamily of Goa, who vanquished the Muslims and established Vijayanagar rule in south Konkan. As Manohar Malgonkar says in his book ‘InsideGoa’ – “There is no monument in Goato the memory of a man called VasantMadhav, or of another who was called ‘Mai Sinai Waglo’ who was appointed as the Vijayanagar Governor of Goa (1402-1404). No plaque mention their birth places or favourite haunts and no street is named after either”. Madhav Mantri ruled Goa as a Viceroy of Vijaynagar (Govapuradhish) for next twelve years during which periopeace and prosperity prevailed which was centred around the import of Arabsteeds from the Gulf. He made Govapuri the capital of this region.
Madhav Tirtha at Brahmapuri
Among the many temples destroyed by the Bahamanis, Saptakoteshwar Temple was one. Madhav Mantri retrieved the hidden Linga and built a new temple in Divar. He also rebuilt Gomanteshwar temple at Brahmapuri. The only monument that exists today is the temple tank that is called Madhav Tirth near Gomanteshwara Temple at Brahmapuri (near Old Goa). Madhav Mantri was a Vedic scholar, an ardent Shaivite and a patron of learning. He not only restored quite a few of the destroyed temples but revived the tradition of Vedic and Puranic learning by establishing two Brahmapuris.
Peace and prosperity prevailed in Goa during the Vijayanagar reign for the next 100 years during which its harbours were important landing places for Arabian horses imported from Hormuz as well as a flourishing export trade in spices.

In 1472 AD Mohamad Gawan of the Bahamani Sultanate attacked Goa by land and sea and the Vijayanagar governor fled without a fight. Govapuri was completely destroyed with its palaces and temples. Vijayanagar made two attempts to recapture Goa but could not succeed. Bahamani Sultanate disintegrated soon after the take over of Goa and Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur brought Goa under his direct control in 1498 AD.


Idalcao Palace, Panaji – Built by Adil Shah of   Bijapur in around 1500 AD


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