Mangeshi Temple :
Location: Priol village in Ponda Taluka,Goa
Date: 23rd Dec 2010
It was my cousin sisters marraige in the Mangeushi temple that propelled me for a re visit to the temple.This visit was more lengthy than the flighty visits we were accustomed to, as we were to spend a couple of days in the temple premises to participate in the marraige festivities . The lodging was within the temple itself , in rooms located around the main temple.
We arrived from Belgaum,Karnataka which was our first halt. It took us around three hours to reach Ponda. The curvy road through the Anmod Ghat was better prepared than the last time around (except for the rough patches after Khanapur). The road through Usgaon was somewhat congested with truck traffic that ferried manganese ore out of the state.
We finally made it to Mangueshi. It was almost Christmas time and the place was swelling with tourists , including some admiring firangis. There was a time when firangs (foreign travellers) werent allowed inside the temple premises. But this was a testimony to the changing times.
Mangueshi is essentially a temple that hosts the kuladaivat (family deity) idols of a section of the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins a.k.a GSBs. Saraswats claim their origins from the Punjab region which was where the mythical Saraswati river (which probably dried up) existed . They were brahmins who incidently consumed fish (so uncommon in other brahmins of the regiion) probably because of their river bank inhabitation.
When the river Saraswati began to dry up they migrated towards greener pastures like Kashmir, UP, Rajasthan. Some of their branches migrated eastwards viz towards Bengal (which was then known as Gauda). Hence they came to be known as Gauda Saraswat Brahmins. Later due to Islamic persecution, they again shifted location towards Bihar and eventually moved southwards, towards Goa. However due to Portuguese persecution, some of the Saraswats again shifted base to adjoining regions of coastal Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Mythology states that the land of Goa was created by Sage Parshuram. It was he who performed a yagna and invited the Saraswat brahmins to participate in the rituas. In return he gave them portions of Goa. Each tribe of different 'gotras' received different regions as 'gram daan'.
The Kaundinya and Vatsa gotras that arrived from Trihotra (believed to be Tirhut in Bihar) received Kushasthal (Kuthal in Goa) as a gift. The tribe installed their deity idols (Shiva idol was earlier estabished at Monghir,Trihotra and was known as Mangereesh or Mangesh) here and constructed a simple shack like temple around it. Later after the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century and the religious persecution that followed, the idols were shifted to Priol. In the mid 18th century (1739), the Marathas captured the adjoining regions of Goa including Ponda. The hamlet of Mangeshi was gifted to its people by the Maratha Peshwa and they constructed a decent wooden structure there (1744). Regions of Goa continued to shift hands from the Marathas to the Portuguese.
The Portuguese inquisition was an anti blasphemy law which dissuaded non catholics from practising their religions freely, as a result no renovations were made towards the temple. However a progressive legislation enacted in 1866 permitted religious freedom to some extent and the present structure came into existance in 1890. Since then Mangueshi again underwent major renovation work in 1973 and is today acclaimed as one of the largest and most beautiful temples in Goa.
The Mangueshi temple has adequate parking space in the rear and we parked our car and made up to the temple stairs with our luggage. There is accomodation available in the guest rooms of Mangueshi temple, provided one is a GSB. Our booking was done in advance and we wasted little time in occupying our rooms.
Pic: Mangueshi rear by Sachin Dinde
The rooms were quite clean and spacious, albeit without amenities like the television and the telephone.
The guest rooms have been constructed along the temple wall and are connected to the main nagarkhana. The temple has its own canteen which provides food and refreshments.
Pic: Mangueshi math by Sachin Dinde
The temple walls are thick and high and are joined by a huge temple door which is closed sharply at 10 pm.
A huge kunda (water tank) lies just next to the temple and can be accessed by stairs. In the centre of the kunda lies a elegant 'tulsivrindavan' (stone pot with the sacred basil plant).
The temple premise has a huge courtyard with the main temple in the centre. There are further minor temples belonging to Moolkeshwar (a revered & saintly person amongst the Vatsa/Kaundinya Saraswats) , Shiv Sharma (patriarch of the Kaundinya Saraswats), Kaalbhairav etc.
The main temple is ofcourse dedicated to Lord Shiva (aka Manguesh), with idols of Parvati (consort of Shiva), Deva Sharma (Gram Purush and patriarch of the Vatsa gotra saraswats), Nandimaharaj (the bodyguard of lord Shiva, worshipped as a bull),Lord Ganesh (son of Shiva-Parvati) etc.
The temple is divided into a sabhagriha (courtyard) adorned with some 19th century chandeliers, the antarala (vestibule) and the garbhagriha (sanctum).
A high deepamala (light column) also faces the temple.
Pic: Mangueshi at night by Nitin Pai
The temple premises are very well maintained and appear particularly beautiful in the night time as the entire temple is illuminated with light effects.
We spent good three days in the temple premises . The mornings were reserved either for rituals or visiting the nearby temples (which are a plenty in Goa) while the evenings were spent visiting relatives.
On the fourth day after the marraige, we shifted bags and baggage to a hotel in Panjim . Thereafter we spent time in Goa as tourists enjoying its scenic beaches and historical monuments.
Text and Photographs (except the ones credited) : Abhijit Rajadhyaksha