Shri Shantadurga Temple, Kavalem.
Goan temples are unique and stand apart from other Indian temples in their distinct architecture, location, spaciousness, and environment. Almost each and every village has one temple to serve the religious and spiritual aspirations of the Hindu devotees. Both old temples with a rich heritage of centuries and new ones attract hundreds of devotees from all over Goa and other parts of India. Dedicated to Shantadurga, the goddess of peace, this temple sports an unusual, almost pagoda-like, structure with a roof made from long slabs of stone.
Shri Devi Shantadurga temple is located at Kavlem in Ponda Taluka. This temple at kavlem is considered as one of the most important temple, and is the biggest temple in Goa. . The temple was constructed during the reign of Maratha ruler Shahu Raje of satara at the request of Naro Ram Mantri, one of his ministers in about 1738 A.D. There is a Shivalinga at this temple which is considered as belonging to the Mahajans of the surname ‘Vorde’ who are the Kulavis of the temple of Shri Manguesha.
The Shanta Durga or Shanteri Temple is at Kapilpura or Kavelem, in Atrunja taluka. This deity is believed to have been carried by Loma Sharma of Kaushik Gotra when the Saraswats came to Goa from Trihotrapuri (present-day Trihut division) in the Mithila region of Bihar. The legend goes that sometime later, the Destroyer and the Preserver had a mammoth fight at mount Gomanchala, during which Shiva used the Pashupati weapon, which could have proved detrimental to the entire universe. Lord Brahma, the creator, then prayed to the supreme Goddess Adishakti to intervene. She, in turn, sent Parvati in the form of Shanta Durga or Shanteri, Shantadurga stepped in as the arbitrator and succeeded in reconciling the warring parties, thus saving the universe from eternal doom. Hence she stands in the temple shrine in between Shiva and Vishnu (Preserver of the Universe) as a symbol of peace, who took Vishnu by her right and Shiva by her left hand and pacified the two. A story in the Skandapurana speaks of how Lord Shiva, when defeated by his spouse Parvati in a game of dice, had left mount Kailash and gone to Gomanchala near Kushasthali for tapasya (penance). It is here that he heard the cries of the Saraswat Brahmin, Loma Sharma, caught by a crocodile in the river Aghanashini. When Shiva saved Loma Sharma, he prayed to the Lord to remain in Kushasthali. Similarly, when Parvati arrived looking for Shiva, she was also requested to stay at the nearby village of Keloshi (Kadalivana Quelossim).
The deity Shanta Durga, therefore, is shown holding two serpents, one in each hand, representing Vishnu and Shiva. Shanteri is then said to have gone to Shankawali to kill the demons harassing the Brahmins there. It is for this good deed that she also earned the name of Vijaya. During the Portuguese inquisition, the trustees of the Shanta Durga temple decided to shift the idol to Atrunja taluka. The temple has an impressive idol of Goddess Durga in a tranquil mood, flanked by Vishnu and Shiva
Description of the Temple
Its description goes this way, a big domed with elegant tiny hall, small doom little away, gleaming white six storeyed lamp tower impressing over the temple with terracotta colours, in entire concept this two towers are the only easily visible with domes, rest of the part is steeply pitched pyramids of red tiles. The big wooden wrath, the chariot of the goddess is light in black and gold, four storeys having windows each side, lamp tower in classic design and octagonal, symbolic horses on the front, great aravali tree standing attractive in courtyard having on its platform twin pointed arched shrines and a small image of Bhagavati (one of the fierce forms of shiva’s consort).
The temple’s main entrance hall has decorated wood doors coated with silver and so the main entrance hall path. On the entrance hall have the impressing art of Hanuman the Monkey God and faithful servant of Rama along with Garuda and the mount of Vishnu. Silver coated doors take you to beautifully designed Mandapa having the main effective features, four big pillars on each side; decorated ceiling with chandeliers, temples bells, in front of Shrine is exclusive three part silver screen. In the night the chandeliers form shining rays of light and falling on the marble every where gives classic collection of different design. A highly job done in silver of tiny Garbhagriha is special, a sitting image of Shantadurga on canopied alcove, the deity is flanked on one side by shiva and on the other by Vishnu, reminding her origins as the peace maker between these two gods and the circumstances in which she took her name.
This temple has made quite a few changes over the years, one among them is Lakshminarayana, whose shrine is in an extension to the right of the mandapa and there are others here as well.
The tale of Shantadurga is told like this Since Shiva and Parvati were reunited, Shiva decided to stay in Goa for meditation, so Parvati stelled little further close to the banks of Zuari River at Kelosi, now called Quelossim or Quela and here a temple was built for her but she was not worshipped as Parvati, but as Shantadurga. Shantadurga is joint of two terms Shanta Durga, means Peace and Violence. Durga is one of the dangerous aspect of Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu’s power. In this form she took on many difficult tasks, on one occasion slaying a fierce demon called durga whose name she adopted. Once a fierce quarrel of Shiva and Vishnu took turn of violent battle and the whole universe was under treat. That time the third member Brahma in order to bring peace he send Durga and she settled their battle and thus peace was restored.
Goa has elected as Goddess of peace along with her favourite folk goddess Shanteri. No doubt this temple has maximum pilgrims in a year in Goa. This main temple is situated at Kolhapur, one of Maharashtra’s state, 150 km away from Goa to the north.
Shri Shantadurga Temple’s walls are one of the attractions to be seen, since it is an ancient temple. All the three directions i.e the north, south and the east walls were completed recently. Most of the temples are built on the valleys but this temple is an exceptional, situated on the slope of the hillside giving the attractive view of white towers and red roofs shining along the greenery nature. The temple is well-equipped with Agrashalas and accommodated with modern amenities and many halls. In front of the ‘Nayanmanohar Deepstambho’ (the tall structures alcoves built in for placing oil lamps.) is a lake which fascinates many people. A distinctive six-storeyed deepstambha and ratha (chariot) with some gilt work adorn the temple grounds. At the entrance of the temple there is ‘Nagarkhana’ which is generally used for instrumental purpose (light music), which makes the atmosphere in the temple nostalgic. It is interesting to note that amongst some other features of the temple, the dome. The dome of the temple is one of it’s kinds and is listed in one of the best among the other temples
The original temple was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1564 but the idol was taken away safely to Kavalem where mahars or harijans took care of it for a year. Subsequently, it was brought to its present abode. A special feature at this temple is that Harijans are permitted to enter the sanctum sanctorum of this temple. The temple consists of a collection of pyramidal roofs with the addition of a dome on the slope in the bosom of a chain of mountains. Both the pillars and floorings are made of Kashmir stone. A Panchadhatu (five element) image of Shanta Durga rests in the ‘Girbhagraha’ with a six inch black color Shivalinga adjacent to it.
Generally during the abhishek (the auspicious bath of Gods with honey, curds and milk) of Shri Shantadurga, the Shivling which is kept close to her also gets the honors. Basically the abhishek is done at the same time for both the Gods.
The temple is engulfed with extraordinary scenic beauty. This land is very productive in terms of vegetation. The atmosphere and the climate is very healthy and the water here is very clear.
The temple was built by Shahurajit, Satara ruler in the year 1738; Shahurajit was the grandson of Great Shivaji, though he was names as Shivaji after the death of his grandfather Shivaji, he was popular as Shahu Raja. He had maintained his at Satara at south Pune. The building of temple was dedicated by Naro Ram, who was one of Shahu Raja’s Ministers, as the contribution towards land of Village in Ponda, Quela for its estate.
Wide spread steps takes you to the path of high gate along with the tank cut into the hillside on left. Nice range of offices, agarshalas and meeting rooms are built covering the huge courtyard, there are also branch of local banks providing required facilities to the large amount of pilgrims and visitors visiting here.